The population of the Sunshine Coast continues to grow slowly but steadily, according to the latest estimates from BC Stats.
BC Stats estimates population growth between censuses using indicators such as the health client registry and residential hydro hook-ups, and the agency said in its recent population estimates for 2018 that the Sunshine Coast had a population of 31,977 – up 1.1 per cent from 2017, and up roughly seven per cent from 2013.
The population of Gibsons is now estimated at 4,943, Sechelt has 10,912 residents and the rural areas of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) have a combined population of 15,438.
The shishalh Nation’s population has dipped slightly since 2017, from 689 to 684.
The BC Stats estimates are significant news for Gibsons, as they put the Town very close to a population of 5,000. Once municipalities cross the 5,000 population threshold, they become responsible for funding their own police services.
Gibsons is currently served under the contract with the province, in a similar arrangement that sees the SCRD rural areas served by the Sechelt-based Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment.
Mayor Bill Beamish is establishing a Policing Services Select Committee to look at how the town will manage the transition, and council voted to approve going forward on Jan. 8. The terms of reference for the committee are expected to come back to council before the end of March.
Town CAO Emanuel Machado said in his Jan. 8 report that when the transition happens, which could be as early as 2021, “policing costs for Gibsons residents are expected to rise dramatically.”
The Town already took a major step in planning for the transition with the building of a $2.3-million facility, which was opened in 2012. The RCMP has been leasing the building from the Town as a satellite office for the main detachment, with the money going to pay off the long-term loan.