The census information showing a more level population growth is good news, Meet Rob Buchan, Prince Rupert city manager, said. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

The census information showing a more level population growth is good news, Meet Rob Buchan, Prince Rupert city manager, said. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Census information shows stability in Prince Rupert population growth

City manager said stability is a good news

The Prince Rupert and Port Edward areas are growing, although somewhat stagnantly, the latest Census Canada information released on Feb. 9 shows.

Since the last census in 2016, the population of Prince Rupert has grown by just 80 citizens to 13,442. Neighbouring Port Edward has increased by just three people or 0.6 per cent to 470.

However, the information is not surprising to Rob Buchan, Prince Rupert city manager, who said the low number of building permits issued during the past two years of COVID was indicative of the news.

He told The Northern View that despite the census information showing a more level population growth, the news is good news and displays stability of the population, which has been in decline over the past couple of decades.

“We know that there are dramatic workforce increases coming to the port; that is what’s going to drive the development in Prince Rupert,” he said.

“We’ve reached the stable point. Growth in industry has allowed that. Port industries allow that to stabilize, and its future growth is what’s going to see this community potentially see new development. When I say potentially, that’s because we have to be able to attract developers to come up and invest. We get construction companies, they’ll work here, but we have to get private development occurring.”

Available housing remains an issue in the region. The City of Prince Rupert has a multifaceted approach to dealing with that, the city manager said.

One facet dimension is a housing needs assessment currently underway, with the city already having an interim housing strategy. A first-time endeavour for the city, housing needs assessments are relatively new tools that the province has been encouraging and funding, Buchan said

Census information shows that in 2021 there were 5,498 private dwellings in the city. The Port Edward municipality has 207 private dwellings occupied by 181 usual residents. While the land area for the bedroom community in square kilometres is 167.16, the population density is low at 2.8 people. Meanwhile, in Prince Rupert population density is a little higher at 4.1 people per square kilometres over a land area of 3,303.63 km.

According to Census Canada, private dwelling refers to a separate set of living quarters with a private entrance either from outside the building or from a common hall, lobby, vestibule or stairway inside the building. The entrance to the dwelling must be one that can be used without passing through the living quarters of some other person or group of persons.

“From my point of view the growth in Port Edward helps us with our housing challenges,” Buchan said. “We are aggressively moving on. We have the dominant centers. I am reaching out and speaking with a number of developers in the province. So, you know any way we can work with Port Ed. we will welcome that. There will be times where we can do that.”

Buchan said typically communities often look at their housing in isolation.

“There’s benefit in working together, absolutely … I think that deserves discussion with our neighbours,” he said.

Another plane of the cities multifaceted housing approach is the selling of land parcels, which will occur in the upcoming weeks, Buchan said. The first ten or eleven city-owned parcels will be placed on the market for private sale and further lots will be opened up development, he explained.

“I’m very optimistic about the future of Prince Rupert. We are working diligently with industry to encourage and support development up here because we know what’s needed,” Buchan said.

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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