By Alison Taylor
The village of Pemberton is bucking national trends when it comes to population counts, growing by 33.5 per cent in the last five years.
That’s much higher than Whistler and Squamish, which grew just 4 and 4.9 per cent respectively, and which experienced slower growth than the national average of 5.3 per cent.
Statistics Canada released the population counts from the 2006 census this week.
Pemberton’s population has been growing in leaps and bounds in the past decade. The 1996 census pegged its population at 857 people. That number almost doubled to 1,637 by the 2001 census. Last year the population reached 2,192.
Mayor Jordon Sturdy said the numbers are a little skewed; most of the growth he said took place from 2001-2004 with only a little growth in the last two years.
Whistler by comparison has experienced growth on a much slower scale.
In the last five years the population grew by just over 350 people for a total count of 9,248. That’s just a 4 per cent change.
By comparison, Whistler grew 24 per cent from the 1996 census to the 2001 Census. B.C. Statistics, however, estimates Whistler’s 2006 population at almost 9,600. The difference may be attributed to the time of year the census is taken. May generally sees the resort population dip slightly.
The resort municipality had been waiting for the results of the census as part of its review of its relationship with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
If Whistler’s population had topped 10,000 people, the resort would have had another seat at the SLRD board table, giving it more influence on regional decisions. It is not clear what the newly released statistics mean to that review.
Squamish saw more growth this census than in the 2001 census. Its population climbed almost 5 per cent from 14,247 people to almost 15,000 people. In the last census Squamish grew just 1.8 per cent.
Nationally the country grew by 1.6 million people, or 5.4 per cent, in the last five years. The total population is now 31.6 million. The growth is largely concentrated in urban areas, in particular Greater Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.