Nanaimo was the fastest-growing metropolitan area on Vancouver Island and one of the top five fastest-growing in Canada over the past five years.
Statistics Canada released population information Wednesday, Feb. 9, showing that the Nanaimo census metropolitan area – which includes Lantzville and some surrounding rural areas but does not include Gabriola Island – increased to 115,459 residents in 2021, up from 104,936 in 2016.
Four of the five fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Canada were in B.C. Kelowna’s population grew 14 per cent, Chilliwack grew 12 per cent and Nanaimo and Kamloops were both at 10 per cent. The other metropolitan area in the top five was London, Ont., which also had a 10-per cent increase in population.
“Much of the growth of these four [metropolitan areas] in British Columbia occurred because they attracted people from elsewhere in Canada and from within the province,” noted a newsletter from StatsCan.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the population growth means employment and business opportunities, but also means increased traffic and pressure on city programs and services.
“People have discovered Nanaimo, recognized all of its amenities and they’re coming. They want to be here…” the mayor said. “The fact that we’re experiencing this growth is no surprise.”
According to the census data, the number of private dwellings in the City of Nanaimo increased by 10.4 per cent over the past five years, up to 45,138 from 40,885. Krog said the city’s records show it issued building permits for 6,463 dwelling units over those five years.
“The good news is you’re seeing increased densification and multi-residential development in the downtown core and around the nodes in our community…” he said. “Certainly it will be interesting to see how the ReImagine Nanaimo [planning] process turns out. What have people told us, and what will be the course that we’ll have to chart as we look at that demand?”
The City of Nanaimo’s population in 2021 ended up just shy of six digits, reaching 99,863, up from 90,504 in 2016. Krog said the city’s best estimate in 2022 is that the population is at 103,513.
Lantzville’s population increased to 3,817, up from 3,605, and Gabriola Island’s increased to 4,500, up from 4,033. The Regional District of Nanaimo’s population reached 170,367, up from 155,698, a 9.4-per cent increase.
Langford was the fastest-growing municipality in B.C. and third-fastest-growing in Canada with a 31.8-per cent population increase the past five years, but it is classified as part of Victoria’s census metropolitan area.
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