CPABC: Northeast BC Population Growth Slowed In 2022

August 18, 2023

FORT ST. JOHN – According to BC Check-Up: Live, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on demographic and affordability trends across the province, Northeast B.C. added 54 residents in 2022, bringing the region’s population to 72,162 residents.

“Our region had negative population growth in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is encouraging to see some stabilization,” said Ben Sander, FCPA, FCA, partner at Sander Rose Bone Grindle. “While international migration and positive natural growth are helping grow our population, we are losing a large number of residents to other regions in the province and to other provinces.”

Northeast BC welcomed a net of 523 residents from other countries in 2022, well above the 174 annual average in 2020 and 2021. The region also continued to have strong natural growth, with the number of births exceeding mortalities by 466 in 2022. Conversely, the region saw a net outflow of 458 residents to other regions in the province, and lost 477 residents to other provinces.

“In comparison to the province as a whole, which now has negative natural growth, Northeast BC continues to boast the highest birth rate across the province,” continued Sander. “This is largely due to the region’s relatively young population. However, it is worrying to see so many residents leave to other parts of the country, especially given the shortage of labour in the region. We need to find ways to improve retention of residents.”

The average age in Northeast BC was 37.1 in 2022, over five years younger than the provincial average (42.8) and the youngest in the province. However, the average age has increased by 1.9 years since 2012, and the population aged 55+ was near a quarter of the population (24.6 per cent) compared to less than a fifth in 2012 (19.4 per cent).

“While housing supply remains a significant issue in many parts of the province, Northeast BC’s housing supply growth has been robust,” remarked Sander. “Our region’s housing affordability is much better than in other parts of the province, and should be highlighted as a selling feature to attract residents.”

Since 2017, Northeast BC added 571 residents, while the number of housing units completed in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek was 646. The average price of a house sold in the South Peace region was $294,375 in June 2023, up by 6.7 per cent compared to June 2022 (three-month moving averages). For comparison, the benchmark price of a home in BC was $977,700 in June 2023.

“Our population growth in Northeast BC has trailed behind the average seen across the broader province. To entice migrants, it is imperative that we promote Northeast BC as a destination offering affordable housing, an enriching lifestyle, and promising economic prospects,” concluded Sander. “To help retain residents, we must also ensure they reap the benefits of the ongoing investments in the region, such as the substantial major projects currently underway.”

Learn more about the BC Check-Up: Live report.


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