Newly released census figures show population growth on the Saanich Peninsula largely failed to match growth figures for Greater Victoria.
While the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) grew by eight per cent to 397,237 people in 2021 compared to 2016, two of the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula grew at lower rates with North Saanich’s growth rate of 8.8 per cent being the major exception.
Central Saanich — the region’s largest municipality by population and area with 41.2 square kilometres — grew by 3.4 per cent to 17,385 people.
Sidney — the region’s most ‘urban’ community with a population density of nearly 2,413 people per square kilometre — grew by 5.5 per cent to 12,318 people in 2021. North Saanich — the region’s second-largest municipality by area with 37.16 square kilometres but the least dense with 329.2 people per square kilometre — grew by 8.8 per cent to 12,235 people.
Compared to the previous census period, Sidney remains on a growth path, having grown by 4.4 per cent in 2016 from 2011. Population growth in Central Saanich appears to be slowing down as the municipality had grown by 5.5 per cent in 2016. North Saanich, meanwhile, had grown by just 1.4 per cent in 2016.
These figures appear against the backdrop of all three communities reviewing their respective official community plans spelling out future land uses. Sidney has started to draft its document, Central Saanich is currently asking for public feedback on its draft and North Saanich remains unsure about the future direction of the review.
North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr has deemed the process to be hanging by a “thread” amidst controversies around the issue of housing, perhaps the most crucial issue in any review, and the latest census figures for North Saanich promise to offer both sides of the debate ammunition.
For supporters of more development, a population growth rate of 8.8 per cent might further underscore the need for more housing. For opponents of more development, a population growth rate of 8.8 per cent might be further proof that the community is already growing too fast.
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