CRANBROOK, British Columbia, June 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — 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, the Kootenays saw relatively strong population growth in 2021, adding 1,643 new residents, bringing the total population to 164,808.
“This is a welcome increase after 2020, when the region added just 1,080 new residents, our lowest growth since 2012,” said Mike Calder, CPA, CA, partner at BDO Canada. “The growth in 2021 was largely due to the region’s ability to attract residents from other provinces, while our natural growth continued to decline.”
In 2021, a net of 2,056 residents from other provinces moved to the Kootenays, a significant increase over the 1,277 in 2020. The region also added 369 new residents from other parts of B.C., down from 404 in 2020. The majority of all new residents were 39 years old and younger. Meanwhile, deaths continued to outnumber births in the region and this negative natural growth reduced the population by 601 in 2021.
“It is positive news that the Kootenays is drawing younger residents from across Canada and from other parts of our province,” noted Calder. “Particularly as our steadily aging population is the second oldest in the province, and our natural growth has become increasingly negative over the past decade. While attracting new residents is critical, the region’s limited housing supply poses a challenge.”
The only age group to increase as a per cent of the population in the Kootenays over the past ten years has been residents aged 65-plus, who currently make up nearly one-quarter (24.7 per cent) of the population, compared to less than a fifth (18.4 per cent) in 2011. The Kootenays’ average age in 2021 was 45.6 years, well above the provincial average of 42.8 and up from 43.4 in 2011.
From 2017 to 2021, the Kootenays added 7,689 residents but only 808 housing units were constructed in Cranbrook and Nelson.
“We need to ensure there is accessible and affordable housing,” continued Calder. “Over the past decade, housing supply has not kept pace with the number of people moving here. However, it was promising to see the number of housing units completed reach 254 in 2021, the greatest amount in the past ten years. Nevertheless, the ongoing demand and limited supply our region is experiencing have contributed to housing prices reaching new highs this year.”
In 2022, the average price of a house sold in the Kootenays exceeded $500,000 for the first time, reaching $511,987 in May 2022. This was a 12.3 per cent increase compared to May 2021 ($456,112), and 39.0 per cent increase compared to May 2020 ($368,336). Rental rates also continued to rise, with the average Cranbrook one-bedroom unit costing $785 a month in 2021, up by 3.2 per cent from 2020 and 7.2 per cent from 2019.
“Historically, the opportunities our region offered for business, employment, and recreation, along with relatively affordable housing have drawn new residents,” said Calder. “However, the current shortage of supply in our housing market and soaring prices are diminishing our region’s edge. Encouraging greater housing construction is essential so that our current and future residents can afford to live in the Kootenays.”
To learn more, see www.bccheckup.com.
About CPA British Columbia
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 38,000 CPA members and 6,000 CPA candidates and students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.