It was a race to the bottom that Prince Rupert lost out on by only .1 percent. In the national snapshot taken in June of 2006, Rupert and Kitimat were neck and neck when it came to the dubious title of kings of population decline.
The recent Canadian census has highlighted the dramatic downward turn in the economy of the northwest. As three of the five cities listed in decline in the census all came from the northwest and in fact all of the five cities leading population decline came from northern BC.
Kitimat is the city with largest population decline at 12.6 per cent, followed by Rupert at 12.5 per cent; Quesnel lost 8.1 per cent of its population base, while Terrace saw a decline of 7.0 per cent. Williams Lake rounded out the top or is that the bottom five, with a 5.1 per cent loss of population.
It’s a stark difference from the province to our immediate east which saw seven of the ten fastest growing cities come from Alberta.
On Census Day there were 31,612,897 Canadians counted. Overall we are a very urban nation with 85% of British Columbians living in an urban area. The Census information provides a wealth of information about Canadians and their chosen hometowns.
BC provided an overall jump in population growth of 5.3%, most of which is based in the south with over 4 million Canadians or 13%, now calling BC home and Kelowna and Abbotsford joining those cities with the fastest growing Census Metropolitan Areas.
The Census statistics indicate the trends of rural and urban Canada from 2001 and 2006, with the Fairview Container Port and other projects in the works, no doubt Rupert Civic officials will be hoping for a different result in 2011, but with a 12.5 per cent drop there’s going to be a bit of ground to make up before we return to the traditional base and the levels we once knew.
For the record, Prince Rupert's population dropped to 12,128, down from the 13,799 counted back in 2001. Hopefully, we’ve reached the bottom of the declining years and we will see a reversal in the near future, the competition in the Northwest is always intense, but this is one competition we all probably would have preferred to miss out on.