The City of Vancouver is the most-preferred real estate market for Lower Mainland residents looking to make a move in the next five years, according to our Future of B.C. Housing Report. But as the just-released Canadian census reveals, the preferred Greater Vancouver cities are struggling to attract new residents and, in many cases, keep their existing ones.

By Chris Fair

Greater Vancouver is the most-popular destination for British Columbians who are intending to move over the next five years, according to our survey.

But where in Greater Vancouver are residents intending to move?

That question is of particular resonance today, with the release of the latest Canadian census earlier this month, and details about B.C.’s fastest-growing cities in full view.

When you consider where people have been moving to in Metro Vancouver over the past half-decade based on the new census, it differs greatly from our Future of B.C. Housing Report about where they want to move.

The two data points couldn’t be more different.

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ABOVE LEFT: Respondents’ answers to “What parts of Metro Vancouver would you most like to live in?”

British Columbians who are intending to move over the next five years (a whopping 51% of our 1,700+ province-wide respondents) would like to call the City of Vancouver home (58.3%), followed by Burnaby (26.7%) and the North Shore—namely North Vancouver (23.5%) and West Vancouver (20%).

The evidence of population growth (and, in some cases, deep decline) according to the latest Canadian census indicates that intent and action are worlds apart.

Despite the most-preferred destinations above, only North Vancouver ranked in the Top 10 of fastest-growing populations (see graph above, on the right). And this was likely due to the densification (and relative affordability of this density) of the Lower Lonsdale area.

The City of Vancouver, our respondents’ top preference for location to live in the Lower Mainland, was a middling middle of overall Metro Vancouver cities’ population growth, at 4.6%, compared to the District of Langley (12.6%), Surrey (10.6%) and Coquitlam (9.8%).

Interestingly, these overall census population growth winners finished at the bottom of our respondents’ Top 10 overall choices for preference to move to, with Langley at #8, Coquitlam at #9 and Surrey at #10.

The City of West Vancouver is a particular paradox. Despite its appeal as a destination for Lower Mainland residents looking to move over the next five years (fourth overall), it holds the dubious title of fastest-shrinking city in Metro Vancouver. Over the past five years, it experienced a -0.5% decline; in the past year alone, population has contracted by 2.1%, among the biggest population drops in the province.

But West Vancouver knows it has a problem—actually, two: lack of affordability and a rapidly aging citizenry have made it a desirable destination with an ominous demographic future. Mayor Michael Smith says that the city has only approved one all-rental project in 40 years. Forty. Years.

He now has the data to insist on housing diversity and rezoning that has been blocked by what he calls a “small but vocal group” of residents and local politicians. Resonance has recently worked with the municipality to develop a new brand and community plan for current residents and those looking to follow their heart over the next five years.

To learn more about the sentiment of B.C. residents towards housing, plus the opportunities and threats to the provincial real estate industry, download your free copy of the Future of B.C. Housing Report, or get in touch with us.

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