Youth population numbers drop

Census figures show fewer children and teens in Summerland

The greying of Summerland continues.

According to the latest census information, released by Statistics Canada last week, the number of seniors in Summerland is continuing to increase while the number of children and teens is declining.

The latest population figures showed a total population of 11,615 people in Summerland in 2016, up from 11,280 in 2011.

However, the number of people 19 and younger decreased, while the number of seniors 65 and older showed an increase.

According to the census figures, there were 2,000 Summerlanders 19 years of age and younger in the latest census, down from 2,125 in the 2011 census.

School-aged children, between five and 19 years of age, accounted for 1,595 people, down from 1,755 in the 2011 census.

Despite these decreases, the number of children four years of age and younger increased, from 370 in 2011 to 405 in 2016.

Mayor Peter Waterman said the census statistics do not tell the entire story.

He said there is population growth in Summerland, including families with young children moving to the community.

“When you see all the building activity in Summerland, it’s hard to know the demographic that’s buying them,” he said.

He added that Summerland is an attractive location for young families because of the environment , the low crime rate and the quality of life.

“People are going to choose to live here,” he said.

However, Wendy Hyer, superintendent of schools for the Okanagan Skaha School District, said Summerland’s student population is continuing to decline.

“We have four buildings, but we only need three to accommodate the students we have,” she said.

Trout Creek Elementary School has 22 fewer students than a year ago, she said.

At Giant’s Head, the enrolment increased by eight students, but despite this increase, the total number of elementary students in Summerland is down by 14 over last year’s figures.

At the middle school, the enrolment figures show a decrease of 12 students, while at the high school, there are eight more students than there were last year.

Hyer said the school district does not expect student population figures to increase in the foreseeable future.

The school district’s projections call for declining or stagnant enrolment figures to continue.

While Summerland’s youth population declined, the number of seniors increased.

According to the census data, there were 3,520 Summerlanders 65 and older in 2016, including 620 who were 85 or older.

In the 2011 census, there were 3,105 people 65 and older, including 630 who were 85 and older.

Declining youth populations a long trend

The declining number of children and teens in Summerland is a trend which has been visible for at least two decades.

Past census figures show fewer children and teens in each census since 1996, even though the community’s total population continues to increase.

In 1996, when Summerland had a population of 10,585 people, those 19 and younger accounted for 2,555 people.

Five years later, the 2001 census showed a population of 10,715. The number of children and teens had decreased to 2,505.

In 2006, the number of children and teens had dropped to 2,290, even though the community’s total population had reached 10,825.

The 2011 census showed 2,125 people 19 and younger, from a total population of 11,280.

And the most recent census figures, from last year, showed 2,000 Summerlanders 19 and younger, out of a total population of 11,615.