Cameron Baughen fills out a survey at Penticton’s ExpOCP. The event continues Friday and Saturday, gathering ideas to update the Official Community Plan. (Steve Kidd/Western News)

Seniors to make up 77% of Penticton’s population growth

City council will hear a new report next Tuesday, updating the Housing Needs Assessment

More than three-quarters of Penticton’s population growth from 2016 to 2046 is expected to be in the 65-plus population, according to a report heading to council next week.

The Urbanics Consultants group, which ran the Housing Needs Assessment last year, is set to update council on that assessment, using updated population projections for the next 30 years, and it shows a trend toward the elder in the coming years.

According to the study, Penticton’s population is expected to grow to just under 42,000 in 2046 from about 34,000 in the last census year in 2016, at a rate of about 0.7 per cent per year.

By comparison, the senior population in that time is expected to jump to under 16,000 from 10,000 seniors in that same time span, moving the 65-plus cohort from 29 per cent of the overall population in the city up to 37 per cent.

But Anthony Haddad, city hall’s development services director, said that kind of expansion of the senior population is being seen across Canada, and particularly it comes with the territory in Penticton.

“It forces us to think, obviously, long term about planning for the future. Our transportation systems, our infrastructure, our need for the future, certainly guided by the people that are going to be moving here,” he said.

Indeed, the country as a whole is looking at an aging population, but in Penticton that doesn’t just mean an increase in the number of seniors.

“It’s important to look at the working age population, in the projection, declining slightly. There’s still greater portion for the 15 to 64 population than the seniors overall, when we look at 2046,” he said.

In Penticton, the under-15 population expected to keep a stable stake in the overall population, at 12 per cent, until 2036, before declining slightly to 11 per cent of the population in the following 10 years.

The cohort between 15 and 65 years is projected to decrease from a 59 per cent stake in the overall population to 52 per cent, according to the report.

Haddad said the city is — and has been — working to try to minimize the decrease in the workforce-age demographics.

“We’ve been doing that recently through our recent economic development initiatives, through remote worker, through the tech community, we’re obviously seeing that increase,” he said, adding UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College offer opportunities to attract — and hopefully keep — young populations.

“There’s huge opportunities for growth in the younger sector in our population, which is certainly exciting for the future.”

Meanwhile, the seniors population will make up 75 per cent of the population growth over the next 30 years, if the report holds true.

In all, the updated assessment predicts an increase of just under 4,400 households by 2046 — about 10 per cent higher than the original assessment, which predicted a growth of 4,000 households.

That equates to about 145 new households per year, according to the update report.

“Much of this growth will be in senior households (3,389 out of 4,354 households),” the report said, noting the senior household would refer to the age of the primary maintainer of the home.

Meanwhile, the number of households where the primary maintainer is aged 25-34 is expected to decrease by five per cent over that timespan.

The update continues to show the majority of the growth is expected to be seen in semi-detached, row houses, duplexes and apartment buildings with fewer than five storeys, at just under 3,000 combined.

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