A Statistics Canada graph shows Abbotsford-Mission (the blue line) has significantly higher-than-average numbers of young people, compared to the rest of the country.

A Statistics Canada graph shows Abbotsford-Mission (the blue line) has significantly higher-than-average numbers of young people, compared to the rest of the country.

Abbotsford younger than average, but still getting older

City has more young people than B.C. and Canadian average

Abbotsford is pushing 40.

The city’s average age rose to 39.9 last year, but that number remains well below the provincial and national averages, according to new census figures released Tuesday.

While the city is aging like the rest of Canada, the Abbotsford-Mission census metropolitan area has the fifth-highest proportion of young people aged 14 or under in the country.

Most of the country has significantly fewer children and teenagers than adults aged 20 to 40. And British Columbia as a whole now has more seniors than children 14 years and younger. But that’s not the case in Abbotsford-Mission, which avoided a baby bust for years, the census numbers suggest.

There are, however, indications that Abbotsford-Mission’s surplus of young people might be diminishing.

The numbers of newborns and toddlers in the area has begun to decline, the census suggests. It’s unclear if the trend will continue, but if it does, its effects could be felt by the Abbotsford school district, which had recently seen enrollment increase in recent years after years of previous decline.

In the past, that would have triggered fears of classroom closures. But those worries might be mitigated at the present time by the need for school districts around the province to create hundreds of new classrooms in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision.

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The figures also suggest that Abbotsford had already begun to significantly densify even prior to council’s adoption of a new Official Community Plan last year.

Only 45 per cent of homes in Abbotsford-Mission in 2016 were traditional single-detached houses, according to the census. That’s down from 49 per cent just five years prior. In just Abbotsford (excluding Mission), six in 10 homes were apartments or otherwise attached to other dwellings.

In just 10 of Canada’s 35 census metropolitan areas do single-detached homes make up less than half of all dwellings. But B.C. in particular has seen the proportion of houses decline rapidly. In the 1980s, 60 per cent of homes were single-detached houses. Last year, that figures was 44.1 per cent – close to the Abbotsford number.