City's population grew, Census says

The city's population has grown, according to Census results released Wednesday.

As of midway through 2016, Prince George's population stood at 74,003, up 2,029 or 2.8 per cent from 2011.

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For Mayor Lyn Hall, the outcome confirmed what he had suspected.

"It reinforces what has been happening in the city for a couple of years," he said. "We've seen an increase in private sector investment and now to see an increase in population, that will increase the confidence from the private sector in investing in Prince George."

The higher number also means the city will draw more money from the federal and provincial governments in instances where funding is distributed on the basis of population, according to Hall.

"And I think, just overall, it strengthens our economic base," Hall said. "People not only have confidence in investing and developing in Prince George but people have confidence in moving here.

"We're seeing that strength in the economy play out in many areas."

After peaking at 75,150 in 1996, the city's population declined to 72,406 in 2001 and then to 70,981 in 2006 before the trend reversed in 2011, when the count reached 71,974.

City economic development manager Melissa Barcellos said the numbers affirm initiatives taken to draw more people to the city and keep them here.

"A lot of the employers have reported over the years that one of the major constraints that they're facing is filling their positions and they're having to recruit from outside Prince George because they can't fill them locally," Barcellos said.

"So we've been working really hard to promote them and to attract new populations."

In terms of retaining people, Barcellos pointed to the Riverbend seniors complex as an example of a step taken to encourage seniors to stay in the city rather than move south upon retirement.

She noted increases in the number of houses constructed locally as well as a Conference Board of Canada report that predicted Prince George will see the strongest economic growth among seven mid-sized cities.

The city also saw a record-setting high in terms of the value of private sector construction last year, when building permits for an unprecedented $122.5 million worth of work were taken out.

"Everything is very consistent and everything we're hearing is showing that the economy is doing well and hearing that the population is growing is another positive," Barcellos said.

Hall said the city now needs to take advantage of the momentum.

"People know we're in a good position economically and that just drives further economic development," Hall said. "And it is also a place people will consider moving to and to live in."

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