Population in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area continues its steady upward climb.
Statistics Canada released population information numbers on Wednesday, Feb. 9, showing Parksville’s population in 2021 at 13,642, up 9.5 per cent from 2016.
Mayor Ed Mayne said the numbers were not as important as what lies behind them.
“It’s a percentage. We’re growing by 200 people a year,” he said. “The big thing for me is not the (9.5) per cent, but what makes up that growth. We’re hoping it’s going to be young families. That’s what the target of this council has been all along. We’ve built 900 rental units in last three years, so we’re achieving what we’re trying to achieve.
“Before that, we were one of the slowest-growing communities because we were only attracting seniors, only attracting households of two.”
Qualicum Beach’s population grew by 4.0 per cent to 9,303 from 8,943.
Mayor Brian Wiese said the numbers represented “slow, steady, well thought-out growth of our beautiful town.”
Wider agglomeration numbers for the Parksville area showed an increase of 7.4 per cent to 31,054, up from 28,922 in 2016. Agglomeration numbers include neighbouring areas grouped together around a core.
Kim Burden, executive director of the Parksville and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce, said: “Growth is always good for business, more residents equals more potential customers.”
“The challenge is the current labour force shortage,” he added. “Many businesses are having to restrict hours of operation and scale service due to labour shortages. The primary reason for the labour shortages is a lack of housing and the cost of housing which has been driven up by growth.”
The Regional District of Nanaimo’s population as a whole reached 170,367, up from 155,698, a 9.4-per cent increase.
Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) saw a 10.4-per cent jump, to 6,765 from 6,125 in 2016. Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) was up 6.4 per cent to 8,216 from 7,724. Area G (Englishman River, San Pareil, French Creek, Little Qualicum and Dashwood) was up 7.7 per cent to 8,109 from 7,526. Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) rose 10.5 per cent, to 4,291 from 3,884.
Langford was the fastest-growing municipality in B.C. and third-fastest-growing in Canada with a 31.8-per cent population increase the past five years.