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Shrinking Aging Rural Towns

108683234_17f056a81f_m The Tyee online magazine has an excellent article about the shrinking, aging communities of Northern Vancouver Island…
North Island Dreams of Better Days :: News :: thetyee.ca

The demographics of the North Island aren’t encouraging. According to B.C. Stats, the population of the region in 2006 was 12,489 — about the same as one square kilometre of downtown Vancouver. The region’s total population has fallen about 2 per cent a year over the last decade.
That population is aging as well as shrinking. In 2006, about a quarter of North Islanders were young people under 18. By 2016, they’ll be down to about one in five. Seniors were 7.7 per cent of the population in 2006, and by 2016 they’ll be 13.6 per cent.

[ad#125-right]Hit hard by struggling forestry and fishery industries, tourism is doing little to maintain economic viability, with ferry and fuel prices continually on the rise just getting there is half the issue.
The challenges of maintaining a level of community are huge…

Now the money is coming from outsiders who buy waterfront houses, sight unseen, for $300,000 — and then live in them for maybe a month or two every summer.  Becoming a getaway for rich Vancouverites and Americans isn’t just a step down for the North Island. It means young people like Kirié McMurchy and her classmates will never be able to afford to come back. Visitors and residents alike seem to have mixed feelings about the future. They’d like the North Island to stay the way it is, but they realize it can’t.

The North Island was reliant for years on strong readily available primary industries and cheap gas, without these two things the communities must shrink or adapt. Sound like a small mountain community in the Kootenays?

Technorati Tags: rural, Vancouver Island, BC, British Columbia, Canada, forestry, fising, natural resources, primary industries, economy, gas, North Island, tourism

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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