The percentage of the population aged 65 and older and the growth rate of the number of seniors in some cities in British Columbia are increasing

The number of seniors in the 10 main cities of British Columbia increased by 17 to 24% between the 2016 and 2021 censuses

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Seniors living in their own home in Campbell River who need transportation or help with errands will likely have to wait weeks to team up with a volunteer, says the woman who runs Campbell River Better at Home.

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Dilys Palmer says there is a strong demand for volunteers who provide basic non-medical services such as light housekeeping, running errands or simply keeping in touch with seniors who live alone in couples or alone.

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“He is definitely growing. We have quite a waiting list.

Palmer provides service in the Campbell River area, which includes the city of Vancouver Island and outlying areas. It is the region where the population of seniors has increased the most in British Columbia, by about 24%, between the 2016 and 2021 censuses, according to Statistics Canada figures released Wednesday.

“It’s a destination where a lot of people want to retire,” she says.

The Squamish area, with 22% growth, and the Nanaimo area, with just under 20%, were also among the top three on British Columbia’s list for a growing senior population. Seven others in the top 10 saw growth of at least 17%.

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Census figures show politicians, planners and developers where to expect growth as baby boomers retire and move to milder climates.

Figures released Wednesday also show what percentage of people in BC communities are 65 and older. The top three were the Parksville area at 47%, the Powell River area at 31% and the Penticton area at 30%. Seven others had at least 25% of their population aged 65 or over.

The national average is 19%, according to the 2021 census.

Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne said his city’s numbers were high because nearby retirement communities of Qualicum Beach and French Creek are included in StatCan’s numbers, but he said his city’s appeal for retirees is a “problem we have to solve”.

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He said residents in their prime working years ages 22 to 55 make up just 27% of Parksville’s population, below the provincial average of 48%.

The numbers confirm what his city already knows: it needs more families for the workforce.

He said baby boomers selling $2 million homes elsewhere can easily buy $1 million homes in his city, “but young families don’t have that advantage.”

“We are working very hard to attract young families,” he said, adding that the city would like to increase its stock of multi-unit residential buildings.

Wednesday’s figures showing a growing number of residents over the age of 65 should come as no surprise.

“Baby boomers make up a large part of the population and you could predict this was going to happen,” said Penny Gurstein, housing expert and professor emeritus at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning.

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The growing number of 65-year-olds, born in 1957 and nearing the end of the baby boom, should also cause provinces and municipalities to rethink the type of housing they build, she said.

She said baby boomers “will want a lot more control and autonomy” over their living arrangements.

She said long-term care homes came under scrutiny early in the COVID-19 pandemic as residents were susceptible to infection in their close quarters and even assisted living units. will likely be considered too institutional for many baby boomers.

The old model “doesn’t work” and housing for seniors where they make more of their own decisions is a model we don’t have, except perhaps for the wealthy, Gurstein said.

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British Columbia seniors’ advocate Isobel McKenzie, who was unavailable for an interview on Wednesday, is due to release her latest report, BC Seniors: Falling Further Behind, on Thursday on income and affordability issues for seniors in British Columbia.

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