Population growth slows 

Whistler and Pemberton have held the distinction over the last couple of years of being the fastest growing municipalities in the province, but it looks as though growth in Sea to Sky country may be grinding to a halt.

Population estimates released last week by B.C. Stats show that growth in Whistler eased to 2.7 per cent between 1999 and 2000, due in part to infrastructure constraints.

The Pemberton municipal population – which was booming faster than any other community of its size in the country – is estimated to have had a negative growth rate of —0.1 per cent between 1999 and 2000. Squamish is pegged at having had zero change in population growth over the same period.

The B.C. Stats reports says the municipalities of Pemberton and Squamish "have practically stopped growing as new housing stocks have filled up."

Overall the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District saw an estimated 1.1 per cent growth between 1999 and 2000. The population for the SLRD is estimated to be 36,321 people, up from 35,902 in 1999.

The Whistler population estimate for 2000 is pegged 9,883.

The highest population growth rates in the province were concentrated in the Thompson-Okanagan region.

Kelowna boomed with a 3.2 per cent increase due to "many resort, commercial and retirement projects underway," states the B.C. Stats report. "Kelowna is continuing the strong growth of the 1970s and is becoming a large retirement centre." Parksville is also growing due to its appeal as a retirement community on the island.

B.C.’s resource-based communities suffered the greatest declines.

The population estimates are calculated using indicators like residential electrical connections and Old Age Security data. Critics, however, have said this model is a "cookie cutter" approach that doesn’t really work in communities like Whistler.

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