Original Published 10:26 May 16, 2022

By Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Gabriola Island’s median age of residents continues to creep up.

The latest release of Census 2021 data by Statistics Canada shows the median age of residents in Electoral Area B went up from 61.2 in 2016 to 63.2 in 2021. Ten years prior, in 2011, the median age was 57.3 years.

In comparison, in 2021, the median age in Nanaimo was 45.2, Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) was 61.6 and Electoral Area A (Cedar, South Wellington, Yellowpoint, Cassidy) was 51.2. 

Back in 2016, 37.5 per cent of Gabriola’s population was 65 years or older versus 44.3 per cent in 2021. The percentage of children ages 0-14 remained relatively stable, dropping by 0.8 per cent since the previous Census. Those 85 years and older also remained steady, increasing 0.1 per cent to 2.6 per cent. The 15-64 year age group remains the largest group on the island, at 49 per cent, versus 55 per cent in 2016.

Across Canada, 2.3 per cent of the population is 85 years or older. It’s considered one of the fastest growing age groups, seeing a 12 per cent increase over 2016 and twice as many individuals than in 2001. The age group could triple to 2.5 million by 2046, Statistics Canada says, as the first baby boomers begin to the enter the age group. Life expectancy increased by almost seven years between 1980 and 2020 and is projected to increase further, creating implications for Canada’s health care systems, home care services and housing. 

Among municipalities with 5,000 or more residents, Sidney, Duncan and Qualicum Beach rank as the top three across the country with the most residents 85 or older, at 9.3 per cent each. Though baby boomers (56-75 years) continued to account for the largest generation group in Canada, 2021 marked the first time the group accounted for less than one-quarter of the country’s population. Millenials, people aged 25-40, are the fastest growing age group, primarily due to higher rates of immigration within it.

This item reprinted with permission from Gabriola Sounder, Gabriola, British Columbia