Old, and in apartments
Trevor Nichols - May 04, 2017 - Biz Releases

Photo: Facebook

The Central Okanagan is growing at nearly twice the rate of the rest of Canada, but that growth is heavily skewed towards seniors.

Meanwhile, the number of people living in large apartment buildings in the region has spiked dramatically.

According to recently released census data from Statistics Canada, between 2011 and 2016 the population of the Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area rocketed up 8.4 per cent, from 179,839 to 194,882 people.

The Kelowna CMA covers the same area as the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, and encompasses Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, and Peachland.

Population growth numbers from the region almost double those of Canada as a whole, which grew by 5 per cent to just over 35 million.

For the first time ever in 2016 seniors outnumbered children in the country, but the national statistics pale in comparison to those from the Kelowna CMA.

Country-wide, seniors barely edged out children, with 16.9 per cent of the population sitting at 65 or older, and 16.6 sitting at 14 or younger.

In the Kelowna CMA, however, 21.4 per cent of the population is 65 and older, and only 14.2 per cent are 14 and younger.

Those numbers represent a 4.7 per cent bump in the percentage of children in the region from 2011 to 2016, a 20.9 per cent boom in people 65 and older, and a whopping 19.8 per cent spike in people aged 85 and older.

The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission points out that Kelowna and Victoria are the only two regions with more than 20 per cent of their populations over 65 that are still seeing population growth.

“While a significant proportion of the population is over 65, the region continues to grow and attract individuals and families of all ages,” the commission says.

Whatever the ages, all those new people in the region are changing the kinds of homes people live in.

In the Kelowna CMA there were a total of 81,380 dwellings in 2016. Of those, 52.1 per cent (or a total of 42,370) were single detached houses.

However, 32.5 per cent of people lived in some type of apartment or duplex: 1,695 in apartments that are five storeys or more, 17,290 in apartments less than five storeys and 7,480 in duplexes.

The other 15.4 per cent live in some other type of home, like semi-detached houses, row houses, or mobile homes.

While half of the population in the region still live in single-detached homes, the the COEDC says the 2016 census data illustrates the “changing landscape of housing options in the region in order to meet demand.”

That fact is especially clear in the massive jump of 41.8 per cent of people living in large apartment buildings, and a significant spike of 15.7 per cent of people living in apartments that were less than five storeys.

Interestingly, the City of Kelowna is the only part of the Kelowna CMA that currently has apartment buildings of five storeys or more.

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