OUT ON A LIMB: People are staying here despite the downturn

I was curious to see the results of the Canadian census figures released on Wednesday

I was curious to see the results of the Canadian census figures released on Wednesday.

Given the loss of two major employers in recent years – the TimberWest sawmill and the Elk Falls pulp mill – I was expecting to see an exodus from Campbell River. Apparently that has not happened.

The population of the “census metropolitan area” of Campbell River (meaning the city and Strathcona Regional District Area D) is 36,096. That’s up from 34,707 in the 2006 census. The city grew by about four percent since 2006.

Now, it remains to be seen if in the last year, the population has declined at all. If it has, it’s not by very much going by my unscientific observation.

So, the population within the City of Campbell River itself is 31,186, up from 29,572 in 2006.

In case you’re wondering, the metropolitan area has a population density of 20.8 people per square kilometre. It includes all those rocks and trees and water in the Buttle Lake-Campbell River watershed. The city’s density is 217.9 people per square kilometre. A little less elbow room there but heck, the City of Vancouver has a population density of 5,249.1.

Area D, by itself has a population of 4,037 (actually down from 4,326 in 2006). Quadra Island and the adjacent Discovery Islands and mainland has a population of 2,601, although that undoubtedly swells significantly in the summer. Cortes Island has a population of 1,007 with a similar summer influx I’m sure.

Campbell River is classified as a “medium” sized population centre. It ranks as 77th in size nationally and is the 13th largest urban area in British Columbia (Vancouver, of course, is first).

Our neighbour to the south, meanwhile, is ranked 69th nationally and 11th provincially. Courtenay’s population (including Comox – I know they love that) is 55,213. That’s up from 51,383 in 2006. In fact, Courtenay is one of the fastest growing communities in the province. The city itself is 24,099, up from 22,021. Comox, meanwhile, is 13,627, up from 12,385.

The Comox Valley as a whole – and that’s really how it should be viewed – has a population of 63,538, up from 59,482 in 2006.

So, that’s the cold hard numbers. What do they mean? They certainly support what we already know, people have not left Campbell River and we know, anecdotally, that many people who used to work here – at the pulp mill – are finding ways to stay here. The Alberta commute is an established way of life here as people work in the oil patch but keep their homes on the coast spending days or weeks there alternating with the same back here.

That stands as a testament to how nice it is to live here.


Alistair Taylor is editor of the Campbell River Mirror. Connect with him at: editor@campbellrivermirror.com; twitter: @CRMirror/@AlstrT; and on facebook