The Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, or CMA, grew by a whopping 8% between 2016 and 2021 to a population of just under 400,000 people from 367,770 five years prior, according to the latest census population data released by Statistics Canada.
29,467 more people now call Sooke to Sidney home, with the region experiencing an average annual increase of nearly 5,900 individuals which propelled the Capital’s CMA to a population 397,237 people.
Although the regional population increased by 8%, dwelling counts rose by 14,115-units over the same period to 186,674 homes from 172,559 in 2016, representing an increase of 7.6%.
Of the 13 municipalities which make up the Capital Region – representing the majority of the CMA outside of First Nations reserves and unincorporated areas – Langford and Sooke saw their populations lift at the fastest local rates, while Esquimalt and Oak Bay’s populations declined.
By sub-region, the urban core of Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula and the West Shore grew at distinctly different rates over the last five years, with the core seeing the slowest rate of growth, the Saanich Peninsula outpacing the core’s growth rate for the first time in modern census history, and the West Shore represented the fastest growing sub-region by a significant margin while also adding more people than the core since the 2006-2011 census counts.
The urban core, comprised of Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich, the City of Victoria-proper and View Royal (a former West Shore municipality) grew by 9,436 people to a population of 256,700 from 246,169, an increase of 4.3%. Without View Royal pushing up the core's average, the growth rate would have landed at just 4%.
The Saanich Peninsula, comprised of Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney grew by 2,203 people to a population of 41,938 from 39,735, an increase of 5.5%.
The West Shore, comprised of Colwood, Highlands, Langford, Metchosin and Sooke (not including the unincorporated area of East Sooke) grew by 16,035 people to a population of 88,170 from 72,135, a growth rate of 22.2%.
The West Shore’s growth surpassed the core’s growth in terms of people by a significant margin of 6,599 individuals. In the 2016 census, the core outgrew the West Shore by nearly 4,100 people despite the West Shore’s high rate of growth.
By the numbers, from the highest growth rates to the lowest, here is what the 2021 census shows for south Island municipalities:
Langford grew to a population of 46,584 from 35,342, an increase of 11,232 people at a growth rate of 31.8%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 19,968.
Sooke grew to a population of 15,076 from 13,001, an increase of 2,075 people at a growth rate of 16%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 6,431.
Highlands grew to a population of 2,482 from 2,225, an increase of 257 people at a growth rate of 11.6%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 927.
Colwood grew to a population of 18,961 from 16,859, an increase of 2,102 people at a growth rate of 12.5%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 7,688.
View Royal grew to a population of 11,575 from 10,480, an increase of 1,167 people at a growth rate of 11.2%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 5,175.
Metchosin grew to a population of 5,067 from 4,708, an increase of 359 people at a growth rate of 7.6%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 1,938.
North Saanich grew to a population of 12,235 from 11,249, an increase of 986 people at a growth rate of 8.8%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 5,235.
The City of Victoria grew to a population of 91,867 from 85,792, an increase of 6,075 people at a growth rate of 7.1%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 53,070.
Sidney grew to a population of 12,318 from 11,672, an increase of 646 people at a growth rate of 5.5%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 6,321.
Central Saanich grew to a population of 17,385 from 16,814, an increase of 571 people at a growth rate of 3.4%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 7,621.
Saanich grew to a population of 117,735 from 114,148, an increase of 3,587 people at a growth rate of 3.1%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 50,064.
Esquimalt fell to a population of 17,533 from 17,655, a decrease of 122 people at a decline of 0.7%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 8,995.
Oak Bay fell to a population of 17,990 from 18,094, a decrease of 104 people at a decline of 0.6%, with a 2021 dwelling count of 8,168.
Outside of incorporated areas, Juan de Fuca 1, which includes East Sooke and Shirley past Sooke, among other small enclaves, grew by 9.9% to 5,132 people from 4,670, with a 2021 dwelling count of 2,459.
The small town of Port Renfrew at the terminus of the Capital Region’s Highway 14 corridor, saw its population jump from 144 people five years-ago to 262, an 82% increase. The village has 373 dwellings, many of which are vacation properties.
Across the Malahat, the Cowichan Valley grew by 6.3% over the last five years to a population of 89,013 from 83,739, and has 40,174 dwellings as of 2021.
Statistics Canada will be releasing additional census data in instalments throughout the year. C
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