CPABC: Thompson-Okanagan population growth rebounded strongly in 2022, while housing completes up slightly

Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA

KELOWNA, British Columbia, July 27, 2023 (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 Thompson-Okanagan’s population grew to 631,367 in 2022, an increase of 12,536 from 2021.

“As migration channels normalized in late 2021, the Thompson-Okanagan saw its population growth increase and the region added the largest number of new residents since 2016,” said Karen Christiansen, FCPA, FCA, partner at MNP LLP in Kelowna. “Bolstered by the lifestyle, recreational opportunities, and ability to work remotely, the region was able to attract residents from around B.C., Canada, and the world.”

From July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022, the region saw a net inflow of 5,444 new residents from other countries, 4,801 from other regions in the province, and 4,757 from other provinces. Of these new residents, almost two-thirds (65.4 per cent) were 39 years old and younger. Conversely, natural growth (births minus mortalities) was negative in the region, reducing the population by2,466 residents last year.

“Attracting new residents to our region is essential, particularly younger people given our aging demographics,” noted Christiansen. “Our population has aged considerably over the past decade, with nearly a quarter of our population 65 or older. We also need to ensure we also have enough housing supply for our growing population.”

The average age in the region was 45.3 in 2022, down slightly from 2021 due to the arrival of younger migrants but an increase from 43.9 in 2012. The largest age group was 65+ year olds, accounting for 24.7 per cent of the population, compared to 20.5 per cent in 2012.

There were 3,949 housing units completed in 2022, up from 3,697 in 2021. However, that represented just 0.3 units per new resident and remained below the average of over 4,200 units created between 2017 and 2020.

“Housing supply growth continues to be well below the record set in 2019, when nearly 5,700 units were constructed,” noted Christiansen. “While high interest rates have weakened housing prices over the past year, prices remain elevated, and given the growing population, will face renewed pressure.”

The price of the average home sold in the Okanagan was $765,979 in June 2023, down by 1.1 per cent from June 2022, but up 7.5 per cent from June 2021. Rental prices also increased, most significantly for larger units. In Kelowna, a three-plus bedroom unit rented on average for $2,188 in 2022, up 28.0 per cent from 2021, while the price for a one-bedroom unit increased by 9.7 per cent to $1,306.

“The region must strive to attract more residents, particularly those who are in the working-age bracket and can contribute to the local economy by producing goods and services. But insufficient growth in the housing supply, combined with the high rate of population growth, presents a major challenge to the affordability of housing for both current and future residents.” concluded Christiansen. “To improve the accessibility and affordability of housing, it is imperative that policies prioritize an increase in housing development.”

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About CPA British Columbia

The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 39,000 CPA members and 6,000 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.