Millennials outnumber boomers in downtown Kelowna

FILE. Downtown Kelowna. Global News

Kelowna is the only Okanagan city that’s seeing its population get younger and it’s showing in a variety of ways.

With the average age of a Kelowna resident falling to 43.2 years old in 2021 from 43.4 years old in 2016, the city is bucking the trend of increasingly older Okanagan populations. Penticton, for example, is one of the oldest cities in the valley, with an average age of 48.9 years and Vernon is not far behind, with the average age being 47.2 years old.

Whether Kelowna’s relatively young age is having an impact on the city itself, that’s hard to say. What’s clear from the census is that the downtown is becoming a place where more working-age people reside and the type of housing available in the city is changing.

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According to the latest census information, 33.1 per cent of the people living in Kelowna’s downtown area — the central core of the city as defined by Statistics Canada — are millennials, while only 23.9 per cent are baby boomers.

It’s a similar situation to Vancouver where 35.8 per cent of the downtown is populated by millennials and 21.7 per cent are baby boomers.

READ MORE: B.C. Real Estate Association criticizes cooling-off period for housing

The rise in younger downtown dwellers could have been driven by changes in the housing supply. Last year’s census found there were 2,400 apartments in Kelowna highrises, which is defined as any building over five storeys, up from about 1,690 in 2016.

That’s a rise of more than 50 per cent, which is more than three times the national average increase of 10 per cent for dwellings in highrises.

The number of people living in an apartment building that has fewer than five storeys is 17,810 compared to 14,645 in 2016.

Single detached houses are still king in the city, however. Their number rose to 26,440 in 2021 from 24,570 in 2016.

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