Immigration adding diversity to Tri-Cities, but not as fast as Metro Vancouver

The ethnic and cultural makeup of the Tri-Cities is changing, though not as fast as the rest of Metro Vancouver.

Statistics Canada released a new cache of 2021 census data on Wednesday showing immigrants and racialized Canadians make up an increasing portion of local residents.

But while the numbers are far above the national and provincial average, the municipalities – with the exception of Coquitlam – lag behind the region.

Coquitlam stands out as one of the most diverse cities in the province.

Immigrants now make up 46 percent of Coquitlam’s population, the third highest proportion in B.C.

In the last five years, 8,600 newcomers became residents of the city, accounting for almost 13 percent of the city’s total immigrant population.

More than half of Metro Vancouver’s population now identifies as a visible minority, but Coquitlam’s diversity beats the region by a healthy margin.

Nearly 57 percent of Coquitlam’s residents count themselves as racialized, up more than six percent since the 2016 census.

The only cities more diverse are Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey.

Port Coquitlam’s rate of ethnic change is occurring faster than Coquitlam’s.

The number of residents who identify as a visible minority increased 7.3 percent in five years, to nearly 40 percent of the city’s total population.

The city has welcomed 2,135 new immigrants since 2016, accounting for over 10 percent of the total immigrant population.

Its total immigrant population has grown by 5.2 percent over the last decade – more than doubling the national and provincial average – accounting for 34 percent of all residents.

Immigration is increasing to Port Moody at a steady rate.

The city welcomed 1,185 new Canadians over five years, accounting for 11 percent of its total immigrant population and 33 percent of all residents.

A total of 33 percent of its population identify themselves as racialized, up two points from 2016.

The top places of birth for recent immigrants to the Tri-Cities were China (19 percent), South Korea (11 percent), and Iran (11 percent).

Immigrant populations in the villages of Anmore and Belcarra decreased over the last five years by 1.7 and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Anmore welcomed 45 new immigrants over the last five years, and its immigrant population accounts for 28 percent of its residents.

The number of racialized residents jumped over six points in five years, to 28 percent.

Beclarra appears to be the only municipality getting less diverse. It saw no new immigrants over the last five years, and visible minorities decreased by over two points to 7.8 percent.

Immigrants account for 21 percent of Belcarra’s population.

Many Canadian immigration records were broken over the last census period.

For the first time in history, the number of people in Metro Vancouver who identify as a visible minority passed 50 per cent.

Nearly 155,000 newcomers settled in Metro Vancouver over the last five years, and now close to 42 percent of the population were born outside Canada.

It was the third highest place of settlement in the country, accounting for 11.7 percent of all newcomers since 2016; Toronto was first with 29.5 percent, and Montréal second, with 12.2 percent.

Across the B.C., 29 percent of people are now immigrants.

In the last five years – even though the pandemic significantly stalled new entries in 2020 – 1.3 million newcomers became citizens, adding 16 percent to the total immigrant population for a new record.

The country now has the highest number of immigrants since its founding in 1867, accounting for 23 percent. It also has the highest immigration rate among the G7 countries.

Canada’s total population grew by 5.4 percent since 2016, and immigration accounted for 71 percent of that growth. At the current rate, immigrants could make up more than a third of the country in 20 years.

Immigrants from Asia and the Middle East accounted for 62 percent of the total newcomers since 2016, with almost one in five being from India.

The federal government sees increasing immigration rates as the cure to its labour-shortage woes, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada’s workforce is aging, and more people are dying than being born. More than one in five people are between 55 and 64-years-old, an all time high.

Immigrants account for 80 percent of the growth in the labour force over the last five years.

More than two-thirds of new Canadians are in the core working age, more than 17 percent were under 15-years-old, and only a small percentage were at or near retirement age.

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch