Hope’s population has dropped by more than 200 people in the last five years, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.
The 2011 census shows the population has fallen 3.5 cent to 5,969 in 2011, from 6,185 people in 2006.
“I don’t find it worrisome because I think the numbers reflect the downturn during the recession that we’ve come through and at some level are still in,” said Mayor Susan Johnston.
“People had to leave for work that normally would have been in our community. I am not feeling a great deal of pessimism or concern over it because it will turn around. It’s very cyclical.”
Despite Hope’s shrinking population, Johnston pointed out there’s been substantial growth in the district’s building activity.
Overall building activity totalled $7.7 million in 2011, up from $4.5 million in 2010.
Fewer development permits were issued by the district last year, but the number of subdivision applications doubled over the previous year. There was also an additional 43 subdivision lots proposed in 2011.
Tyler Mattheis, executive director of Advantage Hope, feels the community is on the right track to addressing rural decline. Projects like the sewer expansion in the Flood-Hope area are a sign Hope is moving forward with its economic development plan to attract industries, he said. Mattheis believes the district needs to continue leveraging its strengths and work closer with Fraser Valley Regional District Area A and Area B in the future.
“We need to get on board quickly with the assets and opportunities that are here now,” he said.
“Our assets continue to be our location, our low cost of doing business when compared to the Lower Mainland, and our natural beauty. We don’t create jobs here as bureaucrats – they come from private investment for the most part. So we need to work to ensure those private investors know about us and get a good visit when they get here.”
Population growth by the numbers:
Hope: down 3.5 per cent to 5,969
Area A: down 7.5 per cent to 442
Area B: down 9.4 per cent to 721
Laidlaw: up 2.5 per cent to 167
Sunshine Valley: down 30.5 per cent to 116
Dogwood Valley: down 9.6 per cent to 113
Yale: down 26.9 per cent to 136
Boston Bar: up 9.6 per cent to 206
North Bend: down 42.9 per cent to 76