CRD Population Changes in Context

When I get hold of some data I like to prepare a variety of charts to help me “see” the data. This is more likely about seeing how things are changing over time (ie trends) or how things compare to each other.

Typically, certain things in the charts will stick out as being unexpected and then the attempt at learning will begin.

This is a great way to either confirm your present worldview on a given topic or identify the areas where your thinking on that topic needs updating to current reality. Also, as you view one dataset, you will no doubt begin identifying links and connections to your other datasets and personal knowledge thus helping to update your mental model of how something actually works.

With that in mind, I will now update my understanding of population changes in the Capital Region District (CRD) which we can then hopefully connect back to Victoria (CRD) Residential Development Patterns for some  residential development insights for a future blog post.

This population dataset comes from the 2015 Sub-Provincial Population Estimates by BC Stats. It was released on January 29, 2016 and each year’s estimate is as of July 1st.

First lets look at the change in population from 2011 to 2015 for 29 regions in BC by percentage change (%). I’ve only coloured the top 10 regions by 2015 population for easier viewing. The regions in the legend are sorted in descending order by 2015 population. Those top 10 regions account for about 85% of BC’s 2015 population.


bc x reg% tableau pngtest

In this chart we see that 9 of the top 10 regions (by population) increased in population since 2011. The remaining 19 smaller regions were about equally split between population increases and decreases over that time. Central Okanagan saw the biggest increase of +6.5%, followed by Greater Vancouver at +5.9% and Fraser Valley at an increase of +4.4%. Of the top 10 regions, Fraser-Fort George had the only decline (-2.8%).

But what does this mean in actual numbers of people. The next chart below illustrates the change in population of each region in persons as opposed to percentages. It shows the disproportionate share of the 184,000 person increase over the last 4 years in BC has gone to Greater Vancouver. Greater Vancouver, home to about 54% of British Columbians, accounted for almost 76% of BC’s recent population increase, or about 141,000 new people.


bc x reg pop


For clarity, we can remove Greater Vancouver from the chart so we can actually compare the changes in the other Regions. The chart below is the same chart as above, just without the Greater Vancouver data. Like the previous charts, only the top 10 most populous Regions are coloured.


bc x reg pop novan


In the above chart we can now see that the 2nd fastest growing Region was the Fraser Valley with an increase of 12,509 people over the last 4 years followed by the Central Okanagan (up +12,002), the Capital Region (up +10,177) and then Nanaimo which was up just over +5,800 people over that same period. The Region with the biggest population decrease was Fraser-Fort George, down -2,610 people.

Seven of the 29 Regions are located on Vancouver Island representing a total population of about 767,000 people in 2015. That’s about 16% of the BC population. The population changes in these Regions over the last 4 years ranged from an increase of +3.9% for Nanaimo to a decrease of -4.7% in Alberni-Clayoquot. These changes are illustrated in the chart below.


vi x reg%


Looking now at the population changes on the island over the last 4 years in numbers of people in the chart below, we see the Capital Region (CRD) leading the way with an additional 10,177 people followed by Nanaimo with an increase of over 5,800 persons during the same period. The rest of the island combined accounted for a net increase of another 1,235 people. So in the last 4 years the population of Vancouver Island has increased by +2.3% and accounted for about 9% of the total BC population increase over that time.


vi x reg pop


We can drill down further into just the south island and identify the Capital Region population changes by local municipality in the chart below.

In terms of percentage change in population, Langford led the way increasing by +22.5% since 2011 followed by View Royal at an increase of +13.4%, and then Sooke and the Highlands at both just over +4% increases. All other municipalities in the CRD ranged from an increase of +3.1% (Victoria) to a decrease of -3.1% (Oak Bay).


crd x muni%


Langford not only is leading growth in the CRD in percentage terms but also in absolute numbers with an increase of 6,845 persons (see chart below). That accounts for 67% of the total population increase in the CRD since 2011. Langford’s current population is still only about 10% of the CRD’s total. The other noticeable number here is that the District of Saanich, the largest municipality in the CRD, had the largest population decrease in the Region, down -1,178 people.


crd x muni pop


We can also aggregate the population changes for logical geographic areas within the CRD. Grouping municipalities into the following 4 groups further develops the mental picture of where the population is changing and by how much. The grouped areas I have used our as follows:

Core: Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt

Westshore: Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchsoin, Highlands

Peninsula: Sidney, Central Saanich, North Saanich

Sooke & Unincorporated Areas

The aggregate numbers, in the chart below, illustrate the dominant growth of the Westshore within the CRD with a population increase of more than 8,700 people since 2011 or 86% of all new population growth in the CRD over that time. The Core group of municipalities grew by some 874 people, which was only 100 more than Sooke and the unincorporated areas, while the Peninsula shrank by over 200 people over the last 4 years.


crd x area pop


Hopefully this overview provides an update to your current understanding of population changes and trends in the Capital Region within the context of Vancouver Island and provincial growth over the last several years.


Some numbers of note:

Greater Vancouver is home to 54% of BC’s population and accounted for almost 77% of the population growth of the last 4 years.

Vancouver Island is home to about 16% of BC’s population but accounted for only 9% of recent growth.

93% of Vancouver Island population growth since 2011 occurred in the Nanaimo and Capital Regions.

Langford is home to about 10% of the CRD’s population but accounted for 67% of the population increase over the last 4 years.

The Westshore municipalities (not incl. Sooke) accounted for 86% of population growth in the CRD over the last 4 years.