While population numbers in the the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s Areas A (Wells Gray Country) and B (Thompson Headwaters) saw a decline after the 2016 census, projections anticipate a modest rise in population numbers over the next five years.
A new housing needs assessment report by the TNRD shows that while population changes in both electoral areas have been, and are expected to continue to be, similar, their dwelling needs have been very different.
Families with children tend not to rent in Area B, but those numbers change drastically for Area A, where there has been an increase in renter households, specifically those with children. The percentage of families with children who rent their home grew from 14 to 19 per cent in 2016.
Area A also saw a “significant” increase in single and roommate households, reducing the total number of families without children who rent. The report suggested this was a partial reason for the increase in the rise of single seniors in the area.
Despite the differences, however, the future housing needs of Areas A and B will be quite similar to account for a rise in the senior population.
The population of Area A had remained stagnant between the last two Canadian census surveys, at 1,550, but is projected to increase by a small margin to 1,575 by 2026. Those aged 25 to 64 have dropped in numbers (three per cent) between 2011 and 2016, despite no growth in the region, meaning the population is aging overall.
Those 65 and older are expected to represent 31 per cent of the total population in Area A by 2026.
Area B saw a large change in how its population is distributed. The 25 to 64 age group represented 69 per cent of the community’s 270 population in 2006. The area experienced a 10 per cent drop over the following decade and is projected to decrease even further, about another 20 per cent, to just 39 per cent of the total population in the next five years.
The 65-and-older age group is expected to represent about 51 per cent of the area’s 330-person population by 2026.
The changes in demography and how the population lives will have an affect on future housing demand for both areas. As average household sizes continue to decline, the population will require more dwellings to accommodate.
In addition, median incomes in both areas had increased between census surveys, and renters in Area A showed a bigger increase in income than their owner counterparts, contrary to information found in the District of Clearwater report, for example.
The full reports can be found on the TNRD website (tnrd.ca/planning-development/planning/housing-needs/).