CPABC: Cariboo’s population growth slowed in 2020 while housing prices reached record highs

PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia, June 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to BC Check-Up: Live, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on demographic and affordability trends across the province, the population in the Cariboo region continued to grow, with 2020 population growth being 1,065 residents in 2020 as compared to the population growth in 2019 of 1,382, bringing the total population to 169,550 residents.

“The slowdown in growth is largely attributable to a decline in international immigration, which is not surprising given how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal migration patterns across the world,” said Stan Mitchell, CPA, CA, partner at KPMG. “Despite the recent decline, the average population gain from 2016 to 2020 was much stronger than in years prior.”

Between 2016 and 2020, the region saw an average annual gain of 1,644 residents compared to just 719 residents from 2011 to 2015. This was in large part due to the region attracting more residents from other parts of the province. In 2020, the Cariboo region saw a net gain of 230 residents from other regions in the province, compared to an average loss 597 residents from 2011 to 2015.

Conversely, natural growth became negative in 2019 and 2020, as the number of mortalities in the region surpassed births for the first time.

“It’s a promising sign that the region is attracting residents from other parts of the province, which reflects a strong economic climate strengthened by major project activity and the natural resource sector,” continued Mitchell. “Still, the region’s population is aging with over a third of the population 55 and older, highlighting the need to continue to draw migrants. One challenge is the rising cost of housing, which has been hampered by supply not keeping up with increased demand. House prices in the Cariboo region continue to be priced lower than many other areas of the province, which offers the Cariboo region another competitive advantage in attracting residents.”

From 2016 to 2020, the number of residents increased by 8,218 residents in the region, while only 2,083 residential housing units were completed in the region’s largest municipalities, Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake. This indicates a gap between population growth and housing supply. However, the 552 units that were completed last year was a new record for the region over the past decade, up from 321 in 2016.

The tight housing supply in the region helped push up housing prices, despite the pandemic. In 2020, the average assessed property value were all well above inflation compared to 2019:

  • Prince George: $318,461 (up 5.4 per cent)
  • Williams Lake: $244,066 (up 5.7 per cent)
  • Quesnel: $224,646 (up 11.2 per cent)

“Prices had already increased in early 2020, before record low interest rates and a surge in demand pushed the cost of housing further to record highs in late 2020 and into 2021,” concluded Mitchell. “As we continue to attract new residents to bolster our workforce and aging population, it will be critical to create more housing supply to make it more accessible for both current and future residents.”

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The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 37,000 CPA members and 5,500 CPA candidates and students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.