Population Growth (Nanaimo)

In 2011, Nanaimo’s population was 98,021, representing a 6.1% increase from the 2006 Census. Nanaimo finished above the national growth rate of 5.9%, as well as the average growth among all BC Census Agglomerations (4.2%). Nanaimo’s population for 2015 is estimated at 104, 671 based on BC Statistics. Nanaimo is the most populated municipality outside Saanich, Victoria on Vancouver Island. Based on future population projections, strong growth is expected to continue in the Nanaimo area. In the 2011 Census the median age in Nanaimo was 44.8 years. In comparison, the median age of British Columbia was 41.9 and Canada 40.6.

Growth is affected by factors such as migration levels, housing costs, work opportunities and the economy in other parts of the country. Between 2015 and 2041, the population of BC is estimated to increase by over 30% to 6.1 million. Nanaimo is expected to grow by 32% to 138,476 residents by 2041. The major driving force for growth in Nanaimo will be migration.

Population Growth (Nanaimo Regional District)

The 2011 census population for the Nanaimo Regional District was 146,574, a 5.7% increase over 2006 when the population was 138,631. BC Statistics estimates the Regional District of Nanaimo population for 2015 to be 154,572. The RDN is expected to grow by 30% to 200, 811 residents by 2041. Growth will continue in the region.


Migration is the result of newcomers to the area. While migration to the area softened around the 2008 financial crisis, Nanaimo has since been seeing an increase in the number of people moving here from within BC and other Provinces. There are three components to migration:

“Intra-provincial migrants” move to the Nanaimo area from within British Columbia. From July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, Nanaimo has seen a steady increase in migrants from other parts of British Columbia. Nanaimo had 4,940 people moving here and 4,219 moving elsewhere leading to a net gain of 721 persons.

“Inter-provincial migrants” move to the Nanaimo area from other parts of Canada (outside of BC). From July 2014 to June 2015, Nanaimo had 2,733 people moving here and 1,444 moving elsewhere for a net gain of 1,289 persons. The Nanaimo Regional District has been a net importer of migrants, 60% of net migrants originated from other provinces. This trend is similar in BC as the province has been experiencing a net inflow of migrants. For the Province of BC 35% of new migrants were from other parts of Canada.

“International immigrants” move to Nanaimo from outside of Canada. Between 2014 to 2015, 120 (approximately 6%) of the newcomers to the area were from other countries. All migration figures below are based on a one- year period between July 1st to June 30th.

Migration patterns for British Columbia are detailed below. Migration to British Columbia from other countries has been fluctuating somewhat in the last five years. Migration from other provinces has seen a significant positive shift as BC continues to outperform most of the other provinces in Canada. Nanaimo region continues to capture a larger and larger share of the total provincial migrants.