FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The average age in Northeast B.C. is still the lowest in the province, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC).
BC Check-Up: Live is an annual report released by the CPABC on demographic and affordability trends across the province.
“With a relatively young population, Northeast B.C. continues to boast the highest birth rate across the province,” said Ben Sander, partner at Sander Rose Bone Grindle.
“It is also promising that immigration rebounded last year, as many businesses in our region have struggled to find enough workers to fill job vacancies. This is even more important as a growing proportion of our population approaches retirement age.”
The average age in Northeast B.C. was 36.9 in 2021, which is six years younger than the provincial average age of 42.8.
The average age in the region is the lowest in the province, despite an increase of 1.8 years since 2011.
Residents aged 55 and older were near a quarter of the population at 24.2 per cent, compared to less than a fifth, 19.1 per cent, in 2011.
Northeast B.C. added 292 residents in 2021, bringing the region’s population to 72,409.
“Our region saw a significant downturn in population growth in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is encouraging to see it recover in 2021,” said Sander.
“This was primarily the result that, for the first time in over a decade, Northeast B.C. had more immigrants than emigrants from other provinces.”
In 2021, Northeast B.C. welcomed 255 residents from other provinces.
From 2010 to 2020, the average outflow was 334.
According to a release, the region also had strong natural growth, with the number of births outnumbering mortalities by 489 in 2021.
The region also welcomed 211 international residents in 2021.
On the other hand, the region did still see more residents leave to other parts of the province, with an outflow of 663 residents.
“Unlike much of the province, inadequate housing supply is less of a major concern for Northeast B.C., and the region has seen a strong number of housing completed in recent years,” noted Sander.
“Overall, housing affordability is much better in our region compared to the rest of the province.”
In total, over the past five years, Northeast B.C. added 818 residents, while the number of housing units completed in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek was 548.
The average price of a house sold in the South Peace region was reported at $261,775 in June 2022, down 1.6 per cent compared to the previous year.
In comparison, the average house sold across B.C. was $947,216 in June 2022.
“Despite the rebound in 2021, our population growth has lagged well behind the average across B.C. To attract immigrants, we need to market Northeast B.C. as a place that offers relatively affordable housing, a good lifestyle, and economic opportunities,” concluded Sander.
“However, for that to resonate, we also need to ensure that residents are benefiting from the investment activity in the region, for example, from the significant major projects underway.”