Burns Lake’s official community plan (OCP), which is currently being reviewed by council, expects the population of Burns Lake to increase by one per cent per year over the next 10 years.
Although Statistics Canada and B.C. Stats numbers show the population of Burns Lake has decreased over the past 10 years, Burns Lake’s OCP plan say those numbers are “incorrect.”
Jason Llewellyn, director of planning for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako – who’s part of the working group reviewing the OCP plan -, told the Burns Lake council last week that the population of Burns Lake has remained fairly stable in the past 15 years, and largely unchanged from the 2011 census.
“The local view is that the population has been relatively stable and has not declined,” said Llewellyn.
According to Statistics Canada’s census for 2011, the population of Burns Lake decreased from 2107 persons in 2006 to 2029 persons in 2011. In 2015, the population of Burns Lake was estimated to be 1829 persons, according to B.C. Stats.
Burns Lake’s OCP plan states “there is no reason to believe that the population of Burns Lake has declined, and there is no reason to believe that the population will decline in the near future.”
Over the last few years in Burns Lake, real estate sales have been relatively steady, property values assessments have risen, and vacancy rates have remained consistently low.
“There is uncertainty surrounding the long-term state of the forest products industry, and the impact of anticipated LNG investment in the north; however,
Burns Lake is a resilient community and the village is taking notable action to improve the outstanding quality of life that exists for current and new residents,” states the OCP draft. “This is seen as key to ensuring future growth and redevelopment; therefore, it is prudent to be prepared to facilitate growth and redevelopment.”
According to OCP’s projection, Burns Lake would have 2282 residents by 2025. The population estimate for Burns Lake does not include First Nations living on reserve within the village’s boundaries.
During last week’s council meeting, councillor Chris Beach asked Llewellyn if the OCP plan could incorporate the number of local First Nations living on reserve. Beach explained that although Statistics Canada doesn’t include First Nations living on reserve in its estimates, the village has to consider the total number of residents living within its boundaries in order to make decisions.
Llewellyn said it’s “absolutely possible” to include those numbers in the OCP plan.