The public came to Ladysmith to stay in droves last year, on a per capita basis, it was the fastest-growing town over 5,000 people in the province. (John McKinley photo)

Ladysmith B.C.’s fastest-growing community

Town topped the province last year with a growth rate of 3.6 percent

Will 2019 be the year Ladysmith surpasses 10,000 people?

It could be close, but if it keeps growing its current pace, that population milestone is coming sooner rather than later.

Ladysmith can claim the highest relative population growth in B.C. last year for towns over 5,000 population after jumping from 9,093 to 9,417.

B.C. Stats recently released its annual sub-provincial population estimates for 2018, a year in which the province climbed above five million people for the first time.

Ladysmith is classified among larger municipalities (greater than 5,000 population) and topped the category with a growth rate last year of 3.6 percent. The City of Langford came second with 2.9 percent.

The growth won’t come as a surprise to anyone in Ladysmith. After all, it wasn’t too many years ago when the town was in the under-5,000 category.

Mayor Aaron Stone has pointed out that Ladysmith’s growth lagged behind its neighbours to the south for several years and is playing catch-up now. He also noted that one to two percent growth is considered optimal for sustainability over the long term based on achieving a balance between growth and expenditures.

The population rose by a whopping 24.3 percent between 2001 and 2011.

Between 2011 and 2016, the rate was 7.8 percent. In 2017, the population was nudging the 9,000 mark and has in all probability exceeded that by now.

In absolute numbers, Surrey led the pack, gaining close to 15,000 new residents, among municipalities. Surrey was already the province’s largest municipality. Greater Victoria grew by more than 5,000 people during the same period, June 2017 to July 2018, the six-month period in which growth rates are measured.

Greater Vancouver Regional District saw the largest increase in population in the twelve months ending June 30, 2018 (39,462), followed by the Capital Regional District (5,173) and Fraser Valley (4,606).

Among municipalities of fewer than 5,000 residents, Tofino stood out with 6.8 percent growth. Other tourism-based communities showed strong growth as well. Sun Peaks near Kamloops grew by nine percent and Radium Hot Springs was on top at 11.3 percent growth.

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