Keremeos grew by a little over 100 people between 2016 and 2021 according to the government’s official census.
That growth puts the community above the average growth for Canada as a whole at 7.1 per cent, and below the B.C. average of 7.6 per cent.
The community’s population is now sitting at 1,608, compared to 1,502 in 2016.
“For Keremeos, that’s a good growth, and we’re happy to be seeing an influx of all sorts of people,” said Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer.
The exact demographics of the population, and how it changed between 2016 and 2021, aren’t available yet, but some trends have stayed steady in Keremeos and other communities for years, including people retiring to the smaller more rural areas.
Another reason that could be leading people to move to more rural communities is the lack of housing in more urban centres. Communities like Keremeos are also having to compete to get the workers necessary to meet up with that demand for more houses, and even the local construction can’t be built fast enough.
In addition to the many affordable housing units that are set to come online this year, there have been plenty of private developments as well — a sign of how much interest there is from people wanting to move to the Similkameen community.
“Two blocks from me there’s a subdivision in development, as soon as they put shingles on the roof it’s sold,” said Bauer. “I see they’re building seven days a week on that place, they must have a ton of places where they are asked to go to.”
The number of private dwellings also grew by 10.5 per cent according to the 2021 census, although the exact details on housing information collected by the census aren’t due to be released until later in 2022.
Over the years that development has seen shifts in the community, including in the many orchards in and around the area shifting into vineyards, and some back again. Planning for future growth is already taking into account some of those few smaller farm areas in the village’s boundaries, the handful of three-acre lots that remain, for development in the future as the need for housing grows.
“The fruit makes up a little of the rural character of Keremeos, and as the pressures of residential development increase, the push will come,” said Bauer. “Because it is still better to take a three-acre lot out that is surrounded by residential development, connected to roads and sewer and everything, than going outside of town.”
The surrounding areas in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen also grew over the last five years, with Area G Rural Keremeos growing by 164 to 2,298 and Area B Cawston growing by 104 to
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