The latest Canadian census shows Canada's suburbs and smaller centres near large urban areas are going grey, but Waterloo Region is still comparatively younger than the national demographic average.

According to the 2016 census numbers released Wednesday, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge had a slightly higher proportion of children and a slightly lower number of seniors than the overall national scene:

  • 17.6 per cent of the population were children age 14 and under.
  • 14.5 per cent were aged 65 or older.
  • 67.9 per cent were what Statistics Canada calls "working age" between 15-64.

In comparison, for Canada as a whole the proportions of children, seniors and working age were 16.6%, 16.9% and 66.5% in 2016.

Waterloo Region ranked just ahead of Toronto as the sixth-and-seventh-youngest demographic of Canada's major centres, the census showed, although the age gap has narrowed since the 2011 census.

However, the census shows the population in Ontario is aging less rapidly than the national average.

age range chart census 2016 kitchener

Age group changes in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge from 1996-2016. (Statistics Canada)

Car culture problem

Ontario government figures suggest that about 42 per cent of people in car-dependent suburbs around Toronto won't have a driver's licence by 2036 – either because they are no longer fit to drive or want to avoid the cost and stress of vehicle ownership.

Glenn Miller, senior associate with the Canadian Urban Institute, says there's a growing risk that many people will find themselves stuck in the suburbs because they no longer drive.

chart-kw-age-census-2016

Age makeup by five-year divisions in Waterloo Region, Census 2016. (Statistics Canada)

With files from The Canadian Press