5 maps and charts that show where Syrian refugees have gone in B.C.

A year after Syrian refugees started arriving in B.C. in large numbers, we take a look at where they've ended up.

Most have gathered in the Lower Mainland, but several smaller communities have become home to many as well

The community of Queen Charlotte on Haida Gwaii brought in 8 blended refugees earlier this year, which makes it the place with the highest percentage of Syrian refugees in B.C. (Mark Forsythe/CBC)

In the year since Syrian refugees began arriving in B.C. in large numbers, there have been many stories of communities in B.C. welcoming them.

But what has been the net impact to the province's population?

Using numbers provided by the federal government and the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., we've been able to chart where in the province the refugees initially settled.

Here are a few ways of looking at those numbers. 

Most total refugees in the Lower Mainland

Refugees from Syria have come to Canada in three different ways: as government-assisted refugees, privately-sponsored refugees and blended visa-office referred refugees, which refers to refugees who are identified by the United Nations and matched with private sponsors. 

In the past year, approximately 3,050 Syrian refugees have arrived in British Columbia: about 2,150 government-assisted refugees, and about 900 sponsored and/or blended refugees.  

More than 75 per cent of all of them have settled in the Lower Mainland.

More sponsored refugees outside Metro Van 

Different regions of B.C. have had a different mix of refugee classifications. 

Nearly all the government-assisted refugees have arrived and settled in the Lower Mainland or the capital region, although some eventually settled in the Okanagan, Prince George or between Duncan and Nanaimo. 

Sponsored refugees have dispersed more evenly across the province, following already established population trends; smaller communities took a smaller number, larger communities a larger.

The third category — blended refugees — are more likely to be found outside the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island.

So while most of the Syrian refugees in the Lower Mainland are government-assisted (roughly 78 per cent), on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands just over half of the Syrian refugees are government-assisted (56 per cent). In the rest of the province, only about a quarter are government-assisted.

Surrey most common spot

Of the more than 1,800 refugees government-assisted refugees who came to the Lower Mainland in the past year, nearly half made Surrey their city of initial settlement (899 government-assisted refugees), according to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. 

After that, there was a steep drop-off to Coquitlam (185), Abbotsford (154), Burnaby (145) and Vancouver (132).  

In total, nearly 1,000 Syrian refugees settled in Surrey, more than three times the number of the next closest city. 

But the place with the highest percentage of Syrian refugees isn't Surrey.

That would be the community of Queen Charlotte on Haida Gwaii, which brought in eight blended refugees earlier this year — meaning Syrians make up nearly 1 per cent of the village's population. In Surrey, by contrast, approximately Syrian refugees make up 0.2 per cent of the population. 

Other smaller communities with active refugee sponsor groups, including Pender Island, Smithers and Salmon Arm also have a high per capita rate of refugees. 

Sponsored/Blended refugees by region

While there are plenty of privately sponsored or blended refugees in the Lower Mainland, that's to be expected given the region's population.

However, on a per capita basis, there are more of them living in many other parts of British Columbia.

Dividing the population for every regional district in the province by the number of sponsored/blended refugees shows the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District with the most, with one per every 923 residents.   

How was the data compiled?

Figures on privately sponsored and blended refugees were taken from Citizen and Immigration Canada's list, last updated on Nov. 24, 2016. 

Figures on government-assisted refugees were taken from the Immigrant Services Society of BC's figures, last updated on Dec. 9, 2016 for the Lower Mainland, and Oct. 7, 2016 for the rest of the province. 

Citizen and Immigration Canada does not give specific figures when the number of refugees in a specific category and city is between one and four. An average of 3 has been used for the purposes of this analysis, except where noted. 

Because of the different data sets, and the different dates where the information was compiled by respective agencies, the exact figures used in this analysis should be considered an estimate.