Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows now a combined population of 100,000
Maple Ridge is ahead, while Pitt Meadows is just a bit behind Canada’s average growth rate of five per cent, according to the 2016 Census.
Pitt Meadows grew by 4.7 per cent in the last five years to a population of 18,573, says Statistics Canada.
Maple Ridge’s population, meanwhile, jumped 8.2 per cent, to 82,256. For the first time, that puts the combined area’s population over the 100,000 mark.
The numbers are the first bits of information that will be doled out by Statistics Canada over this year.
While Maple Ridge is growing, it didn’t match Langley’s rate of 12.6 per cent or Surrey’s 10.6 per cent.
And if you’re wondering why all the workers in Whistler can’t find a place to live, that area’s population jumped by 20 per cent from 2011 to 2016, to a total of 11,854.
Canada’s population is now at 35 million and there are more than 15 million homes.
The census also provides the latest number of homes or dwelling units. There are now 30,262 homes in Maple Ridge, which also represents an 7.9-per-cent increase from 2011.
In Pitt Meadows, there were 7,194 homes, a 7.1-per-cent increase over five years.
According to Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy, Maple Ridge won’t hit the 100,000 population mark until 2031, although the city’s own projections calls for a population of 109,000 by that time.
“We’re getting there,” said Coun. Craig Speirs.
He sees the growth areas in Maple Ridge continuing to be Albion and Silver Valley “for many, many years” and is confident that the city will be able to reach its population without expanding its urban boundary, which can lead to ever-expanding suburbs which are costly for taxpayers to service.
The eastern edge of the urban or built-up area of Maple Ridge is around 240th or 248th streets.
“I think most people understand that sprawl is hurtful to communities,” Speirs said.
With Maple Ridge still growing, Speirs said the city’s proposed new recreation infrastructure is important.
Growth can pay for many of the costs involved in building multi-million-dollar facilities, such as swimming pools or ice rinks.
“The thing I really want to focus on is getting the infrastructure in place for when we’re built out. It will make it a complete community.”
Speirs also wants to remove from the city’s official community plan the Thornhill urban reserve, as the next major area for suburban expansion once Maple Ridge’s population hits 100,000.
He said that having Thornhill identified as future urban distracts from proper planning. Instead, Thornhill, east of 248th Street and north of Lougheed Highway, should remain rural and agricultural.
He says the issue could be debated at the next election and says most on council feel the same way.
Coun. Tyler Shymkiw disagrees with that and says that public consultation is needed to make such a major change to the official community plan, which itself was written with months of public input.
“It should not be up to any individual council to disregard that,” he said.
“It does need to be an election issue, if it does come up.”
Shymkiw agrees that Silver Valley and Albion will absorb most of the growth.
“But we’re also adding a lot of population in the [downtown] core.”
Higher prices are making it more feasible to add condo towers, he added.
An area population of 100,000 will continue to help attract major retailers, a major issue for voters, he added.
As the city grows, a major challenge will be to help integrate newcomers into their new city.
“We have to bring them all together and really do what we can in this community.”
In 2016, close to two in five Canadians (37%) lived in the 15 largest cities across the country.
Maple Ridge’s recent population stats makes it the 71st largest city in Canada in terms of population, while Pitt Meadows is the 236th largest city.
While some cities in Metro Vancouver are seeing double-digit growth rates, they don’t match those of some of sprawling suburbs in Alberta that boomed when energy prices were higher.
Airdrie, just outside Calgary, grew by 42 per cent, while Cochrane, between Calgary and Banff, grew by 47 per cent, and Spruce Grove, near Edmonton, grew by 30 per cent.