At a stunning 18 per cent, the Youbou and Meade Creek communities saw the largest population growth in the Cowichan Valley since 2016.
From 2016 to 2021, the populations of Youbou and Meade Creek, which comprise the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Electoral Area I, increased from 1,206 to 1,423, according to the Census 2021 report that was released by Statistics Canada on Feb. 9.
The next highest growth area in the Valley over the same time period, according to the data, is the CVRD’s Electoral Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls) that is next door to Electoral Area I which saw a 10.7 per cent increase; from 1,629 to 1,804.
Ian Morrison, the CVRD’s director for Area F, said there are a number of reasons for the surge in population in that part of the Cowichan Valley.
He said that housing and rental prices there had historically lagged behind the more populated areas of the Valley, which has led to a lot of young families moving into the region over the last few years.
“The demographics of my area are changing and we’re not seeing as many retirees moving here as we once did, so the population is increasing as more families come here,” Morrison said.
“I’ve never seen as many kids waiting at bus stops before. The COVID-19 pandemic also gave people pause and many asked themselves where they want to live and the quality of life they want to have. They see this area as a great place to live.”
In fact, all of the municipalities in the Cowichan Valley and the CVRD’s nine electoral areas have seen their populations grow from 2016 to 2021 to some degree, according to the Census.
The Municipality of North Cowichan saw its population increase from 29,696 to 31,990, or 7.7 per cent, in those five years, while the City of Duncan had a growth of 2.1 per cent, from 4,944 to 5,047.
Now that its population is more than 5,000, the City of Duncan is responsible for paying 70 per cent of its policing costs for the first time.
The Town of Ladysmith had a 5.3 per cent increase in population, from 8,537 to 8,990, while the Town of Lake Cowichan saw a 3.1 increase, from 3,226 to 3,325.
British Columbia led Canada’s largest provinces in growth, with its population increasing from 4,648,055 people in 2016 to 5,000,879 in 2021; a growth rate of 7.6 per cent.
The data show Canada’s population grew by 5.2 per cent from 2016 through 2021, bringing the nation’s total to 36,991,981 people.
Canada remains the fastest-growing country in the G7, thanks in large part to immigration.
Most of the population increase in Canada came in the first four of those years, the data indicates.
The final year, during the pandemic, had the lowest growth since the First World War.
The increase in population in the CVRD’s other seven electoral districts are:
• Area A (Mill Bay/Malahat – 4.6 per cent to 4,949.
• Area B (Shawnigan Lake) 5.1 per cent to 8,994.
• Area C (Cobble Hill) 0.5 per cent to 5,046.
• Area D ( Cowichan Bay) 8.8 per cent to 3,530.
• Area E ( Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora) 3.2 per cent to 4,253.
• Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands) 5.5 per cent to 2,442.
• Area H (north Oyster/Diamond) 6.4 per cent to 2,603.