The City of Surrey’s population grew by more than nine per cent between 2016 and 2021, surpassing 560,000 people.
But the majority of Surrey neighbourhoods are seeing growth upward of 10 per cent, according to the 2021 Census released by Statistics Canada. Census data was collected in May of 2021.
Surrey’s population grew to 568,322 in 2021 from 517,887 in 2016. That’s a growth of 9.7 per cent.
Out of the country’s 25 largest municipalities, Surrey ranked fourth. Only Brampton (10.6 per cent), Oakville (10.3 per cent), Kitchener (10.1 per cent) and London (10 per cent) – all Ontario cities – ranked higher than Surrey. But Surrey is the fastest-growing largest city in the province, with only Vancouver (4.9 per cent) and Burnaby (seven per cent) being the other B.C. cities to make the list.
Simon Fraser University’s Andy Yan said Surrey is “always an interesting one for sure” when census data is released every five years.
“It really talks to the dynamics, the energy that’s happening in the city.”
Yan, the director of SFU’s city program, said the data becomes more interesting when you look at the census tracts for different neighbourhoods.
He pointed to one tract in Whalley/City Centre, which is partially bordered by 96 Avenue on the east and King George Boulevard on the south. It grew by 2,894 people between 2016 and 2021. Another census tract just on the other side of King George Boulevard grew by 2,000 in the same time period.
A little further south, a tract partially bordered by King George Boulevard on the west and 64 Avenue to the north grew by 2,704 residents between 2016 and 2021.
But it’s in South Surrey where the city saw the most notable increase in residents in one census tract. A neighbourhood bordered by Highway 15 (176 Street) on the east and 16 Avenue to the south grew by 5,318 residents, and next to it, another neighbourhood grew by 2,782 residents.
Those five neighbourhoods are areas of Surrey that grew by more than 10 per cent in those five years, according to a map from Statistics Canada.
“Those are sizable numbers in the region,” said Yan, adding it covers the overall patterns of growth South of the Fraser River.
Surrey is the second-largest city in B.C. population-wise, surpassed only by Vancouver, which has a population of 662,248. That’s up from 631,486 in 2016.
However, Vancouver’s population percentage change was only 4.9 per cent – about half of Surrey’s.
With that, Vancouver has a population density of 5,749.9 people per square kilometre, while Surrey’s is 1,797.9.
“We’re talking about geography that’s three times bigger than the City of Vancouver,” Yan noted.
He said when people think of the suburbs, they think of single-family detached homes when the “dominate form of housing in Surrey is the townhome.”
“The kind of idea that Surrey is a suburb of single-family detached homes isn’t true.”
Yan said some of those fast-growing neighbourhoods are wealthier areas, while others have some younger, urban professionals moving in.
He added one of the most interesting things with census data is who makes up the population – but that won’t be released until April 27.
“Surrey has one of the youngest populations in the region,” said Yan, noting B.C.’s largest school district in Surrey. “While Vancouver may have its size (in population), Surrey has its youth.”