BC’s population grew by an impressive 14,440 individuals or 0.33 per cent from October to January 2009. This was the highest fourth quarter rate of growth since 1996 and reflected a net increase of 10,255 international immigrants, 64 per cent more than a year ago.
In fact, net international was the highest on record in 2008, surpassing 1996 when the province experienced a significant influx of immigrants from Hong Kong. However, weaker economic conditions have dragged down migratory flows from other provinces, reflecting the tendency for individuals within Canada to gravitate to employment hotspots. Net interprovincial migration fell to 6,450 individuals in 2008 from 15,520 in 2007, but still remained in positive territory.
Despite the current challenges in the economy, migration will become increasingly important over the coming decades, as BC’s population ages and deaths begin to outpace births. By 2026-2027, migration may be the only source of population growth for the province.
If the current population projections from BC Stats are any indication, the recent migration gains will be the norm and not an exception. Annual net migration is expected to range between 50,000 and 60,000 individuals over the long term. Over the next 20 years, this could push BC’s population up by 1.27 million people.
This means that demand for housing will continue to be robust over the long term, in spite of the current economy-induced weakness. Meanwhile, housing types and services will increasingly cater to the preferences of a diverse and aging population.
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