In B.C., most people don’t leave small towns for big cities—they go the other way. It’s a trend that’s been happening for decades, but it has accelerated since 2015.
What’s driving this trend in B.C.?
For decades, most intra-provincial migration has gone to smaller cities like Victoria, Kelowna and Chilliwack. Citizens are searching for more affordable housing, more living space and a high quality of life. Although metropolitan Vancouver and Victoria remain the top choices for people migrating to B.C. from other provinces and territories, interprovincial migration to small towns has surged since 2015.
What are the challenges for those communities?
According to Marleen Morris, co-director of CDI, and HRC researchers, professor Penny Gurstein and Craig Jones, affordability is a big concern. Most of the housing stock is old and needs major repairs. Most homes are single detached houses, which reduces housing options. The influx of new residents can also strain municipal services.
While population growth can be good news for smaller towns, high migration can impact economic growth and quality of life.
What is the way forward in light of these challenges?
The researchers emphasize that municipalities need more support as they try to resolve these growth issues, as one size does not fit all. A solution tailored for one town will not necessarily work for others.