Little population growth in North Okanagan

Provincial statistics indicate the Regional District of North Okanagan’s population in 2014 was 82,783, up 0.9 per cent from 82,031 in 2013

The North Okanagan’s population has barely budged.

The latest provincial statistics indicate the Regional District of North Okanagan’s population in 2014 was 82,783, up 0.9 per cent from 82,031 in 2013.

“It’s not a surprise to anyone. B.C. has been largely flat,” said Kevin Poole, Vernon’s economic development manager.

“But it’s a positive — 0.9 per cent. Hopefully the trend will continue.”

Vernon’s population in 2014 was 38,861, up 0.9 per cent from 38,523 the year before.

The largest growth within RDNO was Coldstream, increasing 2.2 per cent from 10,320 to 10,551.

Lumby is up one per cent to 1,773, while Spallumcheen’s population climbed two per cent to 5,185. The combined population for the five electoral areas is 18,647, up one per cent.

However, there hasn’t been growth across the board.

Armstrong’s population dipped 1.6 per cent to 4,879 in 2014 while Enderby’s dropped 1.2 per cent to 2,887.

Poole links the stable population in the North Okanagan to people being lured to Alberta’s oil and gas sector.

“This is a similar trend in many communities. People go where the jobs are,” he said.

However, Poole is confident that as the oil sector rebounds,  some people will continue to work in Alberta but will live in the North Okanagan for the lifestyle.

He also points out that housing construction locally is strong.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports there were 31 starts in February, up from 14 during the same month in 2014.

Year-to-date, there have been 55 units so far in Vernon, up from 22 during the first two months of 2014.

The biggest population news is in Lake Country, the fastest growing municipality in B.C.

According to provincial statistics, the Central Okanagan municipality  grew 5.6 per cent between 2013 and 2014.

“It’s exciting to see how our community has evolved over the last 20 years since incorporation, embracing change while attempting to respect the key characteristics that make Lake Country so desirable,” said Mayor James Baker.

Incorporated May 2, 1995, the municipality has a population of more than 13,000 today.

“While we have evolved a lot since incorporation, welcoming thousands of young families and retirees seeking to enjoy our Okanagan lifestyle and sunshine, we have also worked very hard to protect the beaches, orchards and wineries that make our area so special,” said Baker.

“In fact, while our community is growing rapidly we are currently seeing an expansion to our agricultural base, with the construction of a major new winery.”