Banff immigrant population growing
Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 06:00 am
The community of Banff has a growing number of immigrant residents – far more, percentage-wise, than the rest of the province and country.
According to the 2011 Census, 27.3 per cent of Banff’s population are immigrants to the country, compared to 18 per cent for Alberta and 20.6 per cent for all of Canada.
The number of residents who are immigrants or declared permanent residents in the resort community increased significantly between 2006 and 2011, according to Town of Banff officials.
“Here is the big thing – the change between 2006 and 2011,” said Family and Community Support Services supervisor Alison Gerrits. “Our community was reporting 16 per cent immigrants in 2006 and we are now 27.3 per cent and that is a huge growth in that period of time.”
The increase in immigrant numbers has seen the establiment of settlement services in the community and seen increased need for English as a second language instruction at local public schools.
The number one country of origin for immigrants living in Banff is the Philippines, followed by Japan. Gerrits said immigrants are different from temporary foreign workers in the community. In 2011 there were 1,375 temporary foreign workers compared to 805 in 2006 and 1,760 in 2009.
However, she added temporary foreign workers can transition to attain permanent resident status and that is occurring in Banff.
The population breakdown was part of a presentation to council by Gerrits earlier this month of the final 2013 Banff Community Social Assessment. The assessment includes qualitative and quantitative data from public consultations and the federal census.
It included information on income levels in the community, with 65 per cent of those filing taxes in 2012 earning less than $40,000 a year.
“This isn’t a surprise,” Gerrits said. “We are a service sector community and wages are lower, but this just gives you a chance to know where we compare to provincial numbers.”
The median income of single people in Banff was $28,220 for 2011 compared to $33,950 for the province. Compared to 2006 the income in Banff only rose 3.3 per cent and 14.6 per cent provincially.
For families, the change in median income from 2006 to 2011 was also small compared to the fact that inflation over that five year period was 11.4 per cent. In Banff the median income for families was $72,200 in 2011 compared to $89,830 for the province. That increased 5.6 and 12.4 per cent respectively from 2006.
“You can see that wages are not keeping up with the cost of living,” Gerrits said. “This information is corroborated during interviews we had with people where affordability was ranked as one of the biggest challenges and housing being one of the biggest issues around that.”
A total of 6.5 per cent of Banff’s population can be said to be living below the poverty line, compared with 10.7 per cent provincially.
Banff’s population is also highly educated with 72.1 per cent of adults 25 years and older having some kind of post secondary degree, compared with 61 per cent of Albertans.
Another difference between the province and the resort community is the percentage of residents who rent versus own their home. In Banff, 56 per cent rent and in Alberta it is 26 per cent. Gerrits said median market home ownership is affordable to roughly 10 to 25 per cent of Banff’s population.
Information from Statistics Canada also showed 12.2 per cent of renters are living in what the federal agency would call unsuitable dwellings compared with 9.1 per cent for the rest of Alberta.
The assessment, said Gerrits, is a snapshot in time of the community’s social wellbeing that includes quantitative and qualitative data. The assessment of the social context creates an opportunity for community dialogue and identifying solutions to issues.
The assessment identified 23 recommendations to address challenges around awareness of municipal programs and services, enhancing community connections and affordability issues.