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Sunshine Coast population growth hits a plateau

Sunshine Coast population growth hits a plateau

sunshine coast populationThe Sunshine Coast’s population growth has stalled at just under 30,000, while the proportion of residents over 55 continues to grow, according to figures released this week in the latest Vital Signs report from the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation.

Overall population on the Coast increased marginally to 29,017 in 2013 from 28,590 in 2010. Meanwhile, the proportion of older Coast residents grew to 46 per cent in 2013, an increase of four per cent from 2010, the report said.

The trend has serious implications over the next several years, as measured in a statistic called the “elderly and child dependency ratio,” which will hit 85 per cent locally by 2022, the report said. The projected ratio for the whole province by that time is 59 per cent.

The ratio compares the number of seniors and children in a community to the number of people of working age (18 to 64).

“It is quite dramatic,” said Community Foundation’s survey co-manager Catharine Esson, who presented highlights of the report in Sechelt Tuesday. “People will make choices potentially not to come to the Sunshine Coast if there’s nobody to look after mom.”

The Vital Signs report compiles data from more than a dozen sources, including BC Stats, the federal census, Sunshine Coast Community Services, police and fire departments, and real estate boards.

As of July 2014, the MLS Benchmark House Price, representing a “typical” detached house, was $353, 900, a 6.5-per-cent decrease in three years, the report said.

Vital Signs also published results of a local opinion survey, which found that the economic health of the Sunshine Coast was the greatest concern to residents, with 75 per cent of respondents saying it needs attention. The areas of greatest satisfaction included arts and culture, with 77 per cent of respondents at least satisfied with the local scene. The sense of personal safety also scored high, with 65 per cent at least satisfied.

The report also determined that, statistically, the Sunshine Coast ranked third best among 26 regional districts in B.C. in 2012, according to the Regional Socioeconomic Index. The index, compiled by B.C. Stats, is a weighted composite of statistics measuring crime, health education, human economic hardship, and young people at risk.

Other report highlights:
The Sunshine Coast Food Bank’s per-bag food cost increased by 50 per cent from 2010 to 2013.

Older residents tend to be economically better off than younger residents.

13 per cent of residents are classified as low-income (B.C. average is 16.4 per cent)

Average monthly shelter cost $986 for renters and $979 for owners.

Crime rates are low and declining. SCRD ranks 4th best in overall health among B.C.’s 26 regional districts.

Average water use declined between 2008 and 2013. Less than 20 per cent of local ALR lands are actively farmed. A detailed version Vital Signs 2014 can be found online by following the links at sccfoundation.com.

Rik Jespersen

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