The 2016 Stats Canada census is out and it reveals that Kelowna is one of the fastest-growing cities in all of Canada.
Kelowna’s population jumped by 8.4 per cent since the last census in 2011. The population of the central Okanagan city now sits at 127,380, compared to 117,312 five years ago. Those numbers make Kelowna the sixth-fastest-growing community in the country behind just Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Lethbridge.
The growth has resulted in the largest upswing in development the city of Kelowna has ever seen.
“Normally in a year we need to process about a thousand residential building permits, this year we did almost double that. These are really high numbers,” community planning manager with the City of Kelowna Ryan Smith said.
“We are seeing a similar building boom to the one we saw in 2007 so again they are numbers that are the same or higher.”
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said he is not surprised by the growth.
“Quite excited about it” he said. “I think it just speaks to all the great things we have going on in our community.”
Basran also said that with growth comes a number of challenges including increased homelessness, housing affordability, and growing demand for infrastructure.
“We are being stretched when it comes to to resources,” Basran said. “Some of the things we are trying to do is limit sprawl and getting people to live in neighborhoods and we are trying to densify neighborhoods that already exist, getting people living in more multi-family developments as opposed to single family developments.”
With the exception of Sicamous in the Shuswap and Midway in the Boundaryregion, every community in the Okanagan and surrounding area has seen a population jump.
Vernon saw an increase of 5.1 per cent with its population now sitting at 40,116 compared to 38,180 in 2011. Penticton saw a hike of 2.7 per cent. Its population is now pegged at 33,761. In 2011, it was at 32,877.
West Kelowna is now almost as large as Penticton. It saw an increase of 5.7 per cent with the population now at 32,655 compared to 30,902 five years ago.