British Columbia

Lower Mainland population growth outpaces national rate, census shows

New data shows the population of the metropolitan area of Vancouver outpaced the national growth rate over the last five years.

Population of B.C. increased by 5.6 per cent overall

Statistics Canada said Vancouver city population, as well as that of surrounding areas, has continued to grow since 2011. (Jakub Vodsedalek)

New census data shows the population of the metropolitan area of Vancouver outpaced the national growth rate over the last five years.

Statistics Canada released the first batch of numbers from the 2016 census on Wednesday and the population of what the government agency refers to as the census metropolitan area of Vancouver increased by 6.5 per cent since the last census in 2011.

The area's growth rate was above the national growth rate of 5.0 per cent, while the population of British Columbia increased by 5.6 per cent.

The municipalities with the largest individual growth were Surrey at 10.6 per cent, the Township of Langley at 12.6 per cent, and the area comprising UBC and the Endownment Lands, at 24.2 per cent. 

Census metropolitan areas do not conform to established municipal boundaries. Statistics Canada defines them as a metropolitan area with a population of at least 100,000, where the urban core of that area has at least 50,000 people.

Commuting patterns and other factors are used in determining these census metropolitan areas.

A worker picks strawberries at Maan Farms in Abbotsford in May 2016. The city's population has grown by 5.9 per cent sine 2011. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Looking at metropolitan areas this way takes into account the growing impact of suburban areas on Canada's largest cities.

When the 2016 census was taken last May 10, the population of the census metropolitan area of Vancouver was 2,463,431, compared with 2,313,328 from the 2011 census. The population of the actual city of Vancouver was 631,486, up from from 603,502 in 2011.

The next largest census metropolitan areas in B.C. were Greater Victoria, Kelowna, and Abbotsford-Mission. 

The census indicated that Vancouver ranked No. 3 among the country's 35 census metropolitan areas.

Canada's population on census day was 35,151,728, Statistics Canada reported.

The national census is conducted every five years.

The information published Wednesday is the first of several releases of data to come from Statistics Canada over the next year that will eventually paint a detailed picture of the country, right down to the local level — including age breakdowns of the population, family makeup, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, the level of education attained and income earned.

Future census releases will give more insight to explain the reasons behind the population changes — whether it's related mostly to changes in birth and death rates, immigration or interprovincial migration.

B.C. outpacing 5 provinces 

At the provincial level, population levels in Alberta saw the highest increase at 11.6 per cent, followed by Saskatchewan (6.3 per cent) and Manitoba (5.8 per cent).

Growth in New Brunswick shrank by 0.5 per cent — the first time since 2006 a province has reported a negative growth rate.

British Columbia's population levels increased by 5.6 per cent, compared with Ontario (4.6 per cent), Quebec (3.3 per cent), Prince Edward Island (1.9 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (1.0 per cent) and Nova Scotia (0.2 per cent).

Among the northern territories, the population grew by 12.7 per cent in the Northwest Territories, 5.8 per cent in the Nunavut and 0.8 per cent in Yukon.

Ontario is still the country's most populous province, with a population of 13,448,494.

The population of other provinces and territories:

  • Quebec, 8,164,361.
  • British Columbia, 4,648,055.
  • Alberta, 4,067,175.
  • Manitoba, 1,278,365.
  • Saskatchewan, 1,098,352.
  • Nova Scotia, 923,598.
  • New Brunswick, 747,101.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador, 519,716.
  • Prince Edward Island, 142,907.
  • Northwest Territories, 41,786.
  • Nunavut, 35,944.
  • Yukon, 35,874.