Editorial — Planning for the future is essential
Age and gender information from the 2011 census was released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday.
Several factors become crystal clear on looking at the numbers — B.C. is becoming even more of a seniors’ haven than it already is, and people in general are living longer.
At the same time, some areas of the Lower Mainland, notably parts of Vancouver centring on False Creek, are becoming islands unto themselves. That area is made up primarily of younger people without children.
Langley is somewhere in the middle. This area does not have nearly as many children as neighbouring Surrey, and on a proportional basis, has more seniors. However, the population is fairly well-balanced across age groups.
The City has proportionally more seniors, which isn’t surprising, given the many housing opportunities, ability to walk to shops and flat terrain.
Almost 23 per cent of the City’s population is aged 60 and over, and that percentage will likely grow. The city will need to take that into account when doing future planning.
In Langley Township, the percentage of seniors is lower — about 19.5 per cent. There are more than 20,000 people who are 60 and over in the Township. Given new developments in Willoughby and the number of senior-related facilities that have been built, that percentage will likely rise.
At the same time, the number of children is growing, albeit at a slower pace. There are 27,175 people from babies to age 19 in the Township, and another 5,355 in the City.
This means more pressure on schools, particularly in Willoughby, which is far from built out. The school district must redouble its efforts to ensure there are enough facilities in that area of Langley, and at the same time, manage its inventory of schools carefully.
Although school populations in Brookswood have fallen, it would be foolish to sell any facilities there, even mothballed ones, because the area will one day develop to a much higher density.
One community facility which cries out for more attention as a result of these latest numbers is Langley Memorial Hospital. Expansion of the hospital has been a very low priority for Fraser Health Authority, but with a growing number of seniors in the near future, it will be needed.