FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Northeast B.C. welcomed 54 new residents in 2022, bringing the region’s population to 72,162, according to a recent report from 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.
Ben Sander, a partner at Sander Rose Bone Grindle LLP in Fort St. John, said the region had a negative population growth in 2020, at the start of the pandemic, and said it’s encouraging to see it stabilize.
“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,” Sander said.
In 2022, northeast B.C. welcomed a net of 523 residents from other countries, above the annual average of 174 in 2020 and 2021.
“Our population growth in Northeast B.C. has trailed behind the average seen across the broader province. To entice migrants, it is imperative that we promote Northeast B.C. as a destination offering affordable housing, an enriching lifestyle, and promising economic prospects,” said 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.”
The region also had 466 more births than mortalities in 2022.
On the other hand, northeast B.C. saw a net outflow of 458 residents to other regions of the province and 477 to other provinces.
“In comparison to the province as a whole, which now has negative natural growth, Northeast B.C. 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 B.C. was 37.1 in 2022 — a slight increase from 2021’s average of 36.9, which is still younger than the provincial average of 42.8 and remains the youngest in the province.
Despite this, northeast B.C.’s average age has increased by 1.9 years since 2012, and the 55+ population is 24.6 per cent compared to 19.4 per cent in 2012.
Northeast B.C. has added 571 residents since 2017, while the number of housing units completed in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek was 646.