Metro Vancouver's population now projected to reach 3.8 million people by 2050

Apr 14 2021, 12:23 pm

Newly revised population forecasts project Metro Vancouver will grow to about 3.8 million people by 2050.

This is an increase from 2.8 million people in 2021, which is up from 2.38 million in 2011 and 2.59 million in 2016.

Metro Vancouver Regional District’s new modelling shows the growth trend will continue, which means an average annual growth of about 35,000 people. It also accounts for short-term shocks and uncertainties such as COVID-19, as well as natural increases from births and deaths, immigration, inter-provincial migration, and intra-provincial migration.

With 3.8 million people, Metro Vancouver would be comparable to the current populations of the Seattle and Montreal regions, which each have about four million people.

To accommodate this population growth, there will be over 500,000 new homes between now and 2050, growing from 1.1 million to 1.6 million. This is a rate of about 17,000 annually.

The future of new home types centres on building multi-family; it is projected that 50% of all new homes over the next few decades will be apartments, followed by 28% for multi-attached homes and 15% for townhomes. Single-family homes will account for 6% of the growth, but they will flatline by the late 2030s and see a decrease into the 2040s.

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Metro Vancouver 2050 population growth forecast. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

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Metro Vancouver 2050 housing growth forecast. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

Population growth will also be paired with new employment opportunities, with the number of jobs rising from 1.4 million to 1.9 million over this period. Over half of the new jobs will be in commercial services, such as tech, finance, and retail, while 25% will be from the public sector and institutions (such as education and healthcare), and 23% will be from industry.

These projections will be incorporated into the forthcoming updated regional plan, Metro 2050.

Six sub-regions of Metro Vancouver

The regional district has established six new sub-regions to better forecast growth, instead of the previous methodology of individual municipalities.

This approach will provide “greater clarity that the projections are meant to be considered more broadly,” and better support long-term planning of infrastructure and utilities by the regional district and TransLink.

The six sub-regions are as follows:

  1. Burrard Peninsula: Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and the University Endowment Lands at UBC.
  2. North Shore: North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, West Vancouver, Electoral Area A, Lions Bay, and Bowen Island.
  3. Tri-Cities: Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, and Belcarra.
  4. North East: Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
  5. South of Fraser — West: Richmond, Delta, and Tsawwassen First Nation.
  6. South of Fraser — East: Surrey, Langley City, Langley Township, and White Rock.
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Metro Vancouver sub-region map: Yellow – North Shore; Red – Burrard Peninsula; Green – South of Fraser West; Blue – South of Fraser East; Purple – Tri-Cities; Orange – North East. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

As previous forecasts suggested, and as current trends prevail, most of the growth will come from South of Fraser — East, where the population will climb from about 783,000 today to nearly 1.2 million in 2050.

The Burrard Peninsula will still be the largest sub-region, but it will experience more modest growth, with its population growing from 1.06 million to nearly 1.4 million over the same period.

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Metro Vancouver 2050 population growth forecast by sub-region. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

200-metre transit-oriented development radius within employment lands

To support long-term sustainable and economic growth, the regional district is recommending a balanced approach of permitting mixed-use, transit-oriented developments within a 200-metre radius of SkyTrain stations located in protected employment lands.

Such developments would have industrial and employment spaces on the lower floors, but residential uses on the upper floors, with an emphasis for affordable rental housing. It would also support transit expansion by generating ridership, and provide better access to jobs.

This policy shift would increase the available land for residential development across the region by about 112 acres — roughly the same size as Queen Elizabeth Park. Most of these lands are located within Vancouver and Burnaby.

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200-metre, mixed-use, transit-oriented development locations near SkyTrain stations and other major transit hubs within employment lands. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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