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Metro Kelowna's population has burgeoned to an astounding 235K

Kelowna is on a tear.

With 2.75% growth from 2021 to 2022, the Kelowna census metropolitan area (essentially the Central Okanagan) has ballooned to a population of 235,473.

The latest update makes Kelowna the 19th largest census metropolitan area in Canada.

In 2021, when metro Kelowna had a population of 229,003, the city was ranked No. 20 behind No. 19 Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The bump up in placement now puts Sherbrooke in No. 20 with 1.56% growth over the year to 231,005.

The numbers come from Statistics Canada estimates as of July 1, 2022 and based on the full census of 2021.

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

"That means we're probably even bigger now," said Krista Mallory, manager of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

"The 2.75% growth from 2021 to 2022 is the highest since 2015 to 2016. It all shows our growth has not slowed down."

Metro Kelowna is made up of the cities of Kelowna and West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Lake Country and Peachland.

The City of Kelowna's population is nearing 150,000 and Lake Country is the fastest growing community within the metro region with 5.9% growth between 2021 and 2022.

Metro Kelowna's 14% population growth between the 2016 and 2021 censuses, when the metro population bulged from 194,892 to 222,162, was the fastest of any metropolitan area in the country.

Metro Kelowna's 2021 population would be revised to estimates of 223,622 and 229,003 as the year went on.

There was exponential growth earlier too considering metro Kelowna's population was 136,540 in 1996 and 147,730 in 2001.

</who>Metropolitan Kelowna has almost doubled in size in the past 30 years to a population of 235,473.

By the way, Kelowna's population started out as a measly 261 in 1901 and took off 536% to be 1,661 in 1911.

Back to the present, Kelowna has lost its title as fastest growing with bunch of metro areas outpacing its 2.75% growth from 2021 to 2022.

They are Moncton at 5.12% growth to 171,608, Halifax with 4.31% to 480,582 and Kitchener, Calgary, Barrie, London and Oshawa posting increases between 3.64% and 2.77%.

Kelowna's rapid growth is a testament to it being a desirable city in which to live, work, play and and invest.

The economy is healthy, the weather is good, the quality of life and standard of living second to none.

However, growth and popularity come with problems.

"Our biggest challenge with growth is keeping up with it, if that makes sense," said Mallory with a laugh.

"Housing affordability is a challenge and so is a shortage of daycare spaces. Those two things are actually slowing our growth because people can't afford to move here and that in turn means employers have a hard time hiring."

The resulting labour shortage -- and its drag on the economy -- isn't unique to Kelowna because it's a worldwide problem.

However, it seems more acute in Kelowna because it has had such swift growth and that expansion has contributed to unaffordability and the worker shortage.

In fact, the commission's latest batch of economic indicators for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2022 show the metro Kelowna labour force shrunk ever so slighty, by 0.4%, to 114,525 workers from 115,017.

Meantime, job postings skyrocketed 34.3% to 33,452 in 2022, meaning companies are having a hard time finding workers and that hampers population and economic growth.

The rest of Kelowna's economic indicators (everything from house prices and construction, rents and building permit values to business licenses and airport passengers) point toward vibrancy.

However, Mallory admits uncertainty clouds the horizon.

"Higher interest rates and inflation are a concern," she said.

"Despite this uncertainty we're still seeing some growth locally."

The 30 biggest census metropolitan areas in Canada with 2022 population and percentage growth from 2021:

1. Toronto: 6,685,621, up 2.07%

2. Montreal: 4,378,796, up 0.87%

3. Vancouver: 2,842,730, up 2.74%

4. Calgary: 1,608,342, up 3.09%

5. Edmonton: 1,516,719, up 2.41%

6. Ottawa-Gatineau: 1,498,610, up 1.64%

7. Winnipeg: 871,778, up 1.48%

8. Quebec City: 848,776, up 1.43%

9. Hamilton: 821,839, up 1.27%

10. Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge: 622,497, up 3.64%

11. London: 574,238, up 2.93%

12. Halifax: 480,582, up 4.31%

13. St. Catharines-Niagara: 450,501, up 2.01%

14. Oshawa: 447,079, up 2.77%

15. Victoria: 423,136, up 2.19%

16. Windsor: 359,672, up 2.35%

17. Saskatoon: 347,536, 2.21%

18. Regina: 268,804, 1.65%

19. Kelowna: 235,473, up 2.75%

20. Sherbrooke, 231,055, up 1.65%

21. Barrie: 228,979, up 3.07%

22. St. John's: 219,119, up 2.21%

23. Abbotsford-Mission: 208,961, up 1.5%

24. Kingston: 180,070, up 1.85%

25. Sudbury: 175,357, up 1.44%

25. Guelph: 172,400, up 1.76%

27. Moncton, 171, 608, up 5.12%

28. Trois-Riveres, 167,732, up 1.61%

29. Saguenay: 165,185, up 0.04%

30. Brantford: 158,391, up 2.28%

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