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Parents and children continue to leave Vancouver, Census shows

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of children under 15 and 35-44 year olds continued to drop.

Sarah Simon, husband Julien and their five-month-old daughter Chloe enjoy some family time in their living room at their Kamloops, B.C. home on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. The family has recently relocated to Kamloops from Vancouver for more affordable housing.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett

Sarah Simon, husband Julien and their five-month-old daughter Chloe enjoy some family time in their living room at their Kamloops, B.C. home on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. The family has recently relocated to Kamloops from Vancouver for more affordable housing.

High-priced Vancouver continues to lose children and their parents, Statistics Canada’s latest census release shows — but has no problem attracting 20-somethings.

“For the City of Vancouver, we do have this bright lights, big city effect,” said Andy Yan, an urban planner and director of Simon Fraser University’s city program.

“People in their 20s are moving into the city for school or to start their careers. But where people are leaving is when they hit that 35-44 age group.”

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Between 2006 and 2016, 25-34 year olds increased 21 per cent; children under 15 declined four per cent; and 35-44 year olds decreased nine per cent. Comparing the 2016 Census to the National Household Survey in 2011 shows the number of children dropped one per cent and 35-44 year olds decreased three per cent.

Number of children (age 0-19) in Metro Vancouver by census tracts, 2016 Census. Darkest red areas indicate over 1000 children, while the lightest show areas where 0-250 children were counted.

Andy Yan, SFU

Number of children (age 0-19) in Metro Vancouver by census tracts, 2016 Census. Darkest red areas indicate over 1000 children, while the lightest show areas where 0-250 children were counted.

But when it comes to the region as a whole — Vancouver and its surrounding suburbs — the census data shows Metro Vancouver is doing just fine when it comes to attracting young familes, said Nathanael Lauster, a sociology professor at the University of British Columbia.

The data shows growth in most age groups, with the highest growth in 13-17 and 18-22 categories, as well as people over 85. But there is one demographic that’s leaving the region: the baby boomers. Lauster doesn’t know for sure, but he says that decrease could be related to the “cashing out” phenomenon: boomers who sold their houses at the height the Metro Vancouver real estate market and left for other communities.

“The slow leak that we might be seeing in terms of baby boomers, to my mind that’s the best indication that there might be something related to the housing market when it comes to age-related migration trends,” Lauster said.

Across the Metro Vancouver region as a whole, most age groups grew - except the baby boomers.

Nathanael Lauster, UBC

Across the Metro Vancouver region as a whole, most age groups grew - except the baby boomers.

The City of Vancouver has identified the decrease of children and 30/40-somthings as a problem for the city and a sign that housing in Vancouver has become out of reach for families. It’s one of the factors that went into the city’s new housing plan, which focuses on creating more housing for lower and middle-income residents as well as families.

But there’s another demographic group that has been growing dramatically in the city, and one that the City of Vancouver neglected to include in its analysis, Yan says. While Metro Vancouver’s population grew 16 per cent overall between 2006 and 2016, the over-65 cohort increased by 35 per cent.

The city left out both children under 15 and seniors over 65 when it did the analysis behind its new housing plan, Yan points out, arguing this has implications for housing since both those age groups have specific housing needs.

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