British Columbia

West Vancouver population drop causes concern

A District of West Vancouver councillor says homeowners are looking to cash in by selling their houses — and there's a good chance the buyers won't live in the property.

Aging population, increasing housing prices and foreign buyers blamed for population decline

A view from Dundarave Park in the District of West Vancouver (District of West Vancouver)

The province says the population of one of Canada's wealthiest municipalities has taken a noticeable drop.

A report by B.C. Stats says between 2015 and 2016, West Vancouver's population dropped by 2.1 per cent — the largest year-over-year decrease of any B.C. municipality with at least 15,000 people. 

Just under 41,000 people now call the municipality home.

The decline is in stark contrast to other municipalities across the province seeing sizable growth when it comes to its population. Vernon, for example, has seen an increase in the number of its residents consistently for the past five years.

Meanwhile, West Vancouver's population numbers have been falling every year since 2011.

West Vancouver Councillor Craig Cameron calls the population decrease in his district "concerning."

"It speaks to some of the challenges we have in the community."

Cameron says one of the factors that play a role in the decline is that the district is dealing with a "considerably aging population."

"As our population ages, the kids move out of the house and maybe one of the spouses dies," said Cameron. "So you go from having a four or five-person household to a little old lady living in a larger house."

Housing affordability 

Cameron says housing affordability is also an issue. West Vancouver is known for its large, luxurious and expensive houses.

"It's very difficult for younger people with families to buy into the community now."

He says homeowners have been looking to cash-in on the red hot housing market by selling their homes in the past number of years.

"What we're seeing a great deal... of foreign buyers coming in and either purchasing for investment or moving in," said Cameron.

"And often they only live part of the year, if they move in, in Vancouver and live part of the year elsewhere."

Cameron says he believes the province doesn't technically categorize those homeowners as residents, since they don't spend the majority of their time at their West Vancouver property.

Cameron says council has created an affordable housing fund. 

"[It's] for the disabled people that need housing, older people."

Cameron hopes that will allow more people to afford living in the municipality, although he doesn't expect the population drop to reverse itself right away.