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Metro Kelowna's population balloons to 229,400

Kelowna maintains its status as Canada's fastest growing metropolitan area with a recent population bump to 229,400.

"The data is lagging, so that 229,400 is Statistics Canada's annual population estimate for 2021 for the Kelowna CMA (census metropolitan area)," said Krista Mallory, the manager of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

"I'm sure we're bigger now. After all, the Central Okanagan is a desirable place to live and move to."

</who>Krista Mallory is the manager of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

Metro Kelowna includes the City of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Lake Country and Peachland.

When Statistics Canada released census numbers last year, Kelowna was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada with 14% growth from 194,892 in 2016 to 222,162 in 2021.

Since then, Statistics Canada has released that updated annual population estimate for Metro Kelowna of 229,400 in 2021, up 2.6% from 2020's population of 223,622 (updated estimate).

That's 5,778 more people in just one year.

And that's net gain in population, taking into account people born here and those who moved here, minus who died and those that moved out.

<who>The Statistics Canada annual population estimate for Metropolitan Kelowna for 2021 is 229,400.

The latest stats makes Kelowna the 20th biggest metro area in Canada, up from 22nd in 2016.

To jump from 22nd to 20th, Kelowna leapfrogged both St. John's and Barrie, which both now have populations of around 213,000.

With the latest 229,400 estimate, Kelowna may be able to soon beat out No. 19 Sherbrooke, which had a 2021 census population of 227,398. (Sherbrooke's updated estimate from Stats Can for 2021 isn't known.)

Cities just above Kelowna in population include No. 18 Regina at 249,217, No. 17 Saskatoon with 317,480 and No. 16 Victoria at 397,237.

If Kelowna keeps up its rate of growth, it could conceivably eclipse Regina in a few years, but it's too far behind Saskatoon and Victoria to catch up, especially considering those cities have healthy five-year expansion rates of around 8% each.

Of course, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are No. 1, 2, 3 with populations of 6.2 million, 4.3 million and 2.6 million, respectively.

(See the list of Canada's 30 biggest census metropolitan areas below.)

However, all these are just numbers and data until given some perspective.

That perspective is that Kelowna -- with its ideal four-seasons weather, stunning setting, vibrant economy and enviable quality of life -- is a magnet for people who want to live here, work here, retire here and invest here.

That became abundantly clear during the pandemic when people from elsewhere decided to move here, especially the work-from-home crowd from Vancouver and Toronto, to enjoy more space for less money.

You also just need to look at Kelowna's skyline for evidence.

Highrise condominiums are going up, making the city more urban, and infill construction is everywhere.

However, population growth isn't all sunshine and roses.

The city's desirability is part of the reason homes have become unaffordable, even if the housing market is cooling somewhat.

More people also means more strain on infrastructure from traffic on the roads to more hikers on trails.

Despite the surge in population, Kelowna still has a worker shortage that's likely to get worse, not better as demographics shift and people don't want to return to traditional full-time and part-time work post-pandemic.

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