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B.C.’s population set to hit 7.9 million by 2046, report forecasts

British Columbia’s population is forecast to hit 7.9 million people by 2046, according to new numbers released by the provincial government on Tuesday.

The data, produced by BC Stats, anticipates a 44-per cent growth from the current population of 5.5 million in the next 23 years.

The BC Stats report found the surge in population is being driven in part by higher federal immigration targets.

The majority of growth in the coming decades is forecast to be concentrated in the Lower Mainland/ Southwest region of the province, according to BC Stats.

That region’s population is forecast to more than double to 4.9 million people by 2046 — driven primarily by migration. Between 2016 and 2021, it found, 78 per cent of new immigrants to B.C. settled in Metro Vancouver.

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The report found B.C.’s population grew by 3 per cent between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023 — the highest annual growth rate since 1974.

B.C. saw nearly 150,8000 migrants arrive in the province in 2022, about 52,000 of whom were permanent immigrants.

The report also found B.C.’s population was older, on average, than other populations and that the province’s fertility rate was lower.

The number of births in B.C. has been lower than the number of deaths since 2021, the first time natural population change in the province has been in the negative, according to the agency. While birth rates have remained steady since 2000, the number of annual deaths is climbing as the population ages, according to BC Stats.

As of 2022, people aged 65 and up accounted for nearly one in five British Columbia residents, according to the report.

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