Delta population growth lagging behind national, provincial average

Census puts population at just 3.3 per cent higher than 2006

Delta has seen its population increase slightly over the last five years, according to Statistics Canada.

A census conducted last year pegged Delta's population at 99,863, representing a 3.3 per cent increase from 2006.

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The municipality's growth lagged behind the B.C. and Canadian averages.

B.C.'s population increased by seven per cent between 2006 and 2011 to 4.4 million, while the national average was 5.9 per cent.

Some areas in Greater Vancouver saw significant population increases, including Pitt Meadows, which experienced a growth rate of 13.5 per cent, while cities like New Westminster, Burnaby, Langley, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge saw 10 to 12 per cent jumps. Vancouver's growth rate was 4.4 per cent.

Total private dwellings in Delta were tabulated at 35,781.

The population density was 554.4 people per square kilometre, well below the Greater Vancouver average of 801.5.

The census notes the total land area for Delta is 180 square kilometres, however, what's not mentioned is that much of that area is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Mayor Lois Jackson said she is happy with her municipality's moderate growth and said it's been a manageable number of new residents to accommodate.

"We haven't grown an awful lot," Jackson said, adding a lot of the municipality is bog and farmland.

"The only place we have to grow is within the boundaries that we have and there's virtually little land that's left available for increasing our population other than densification or something we've done recently, legalizing secondary suites."

Jackson said cities that are growing at a more rapid rate face challenges.

"It doesn't matter what area it is, there's no doubt it takes X number of policemen, X number of firefighters, X number of parks and so on to service the new people. I think people get a little bit concerned about limited funding, particularly when you're talking infrastructure and major schools, hospitals and all of those things.

"I'm not criticizing Surrey, that's their policy and their direction, but certainly there are impacts for growth."

North Delta, and in particular the Scott Road corridor, is the main focus for the municipality in finding ways to create more housing types and densification. It's all part of the North Delta Area Plan review that's underway.

The latest Statistics Canada data on population and dwelling counts from 2011 will be the first of several releases by the agency. Upcoming releases will focus on population by age and sex, families, households, marital status, structural type of dwellings and language.

The 2006 census showed Delta's population had dipped between 2001 and 2006, while at the same time it got older. The average age of Delta's workforce also got older.

The previous census also found Delta continued to be at the low end compared to many of its Greater Vancouver neighbours when it came to its percentage of visible minorities.

- With Files from Surrey Now

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