How Chilliwack's neighbourhoods have changed since 2011

A new report from the City of Chilliwack shows the ways individual neighbourhoods have changed since the 2010s

From new ways of living to increasing education levels, Chilliwack’s neighbourhoods have changed a lot between 2011 and 2021. 📸 Grace Kennedy

This story first appeared in the June 6 edition of the Fraser Valley Current newsletter. Subscribe for free to get Fraser Valley news in your email every weekday morning.

Chilliwack residents are increasingly living in multi-generational households and with roommates, according to a new report put together for the City of Chilliwack. 

It’s not the only insight from the report, which details statistics at the neighbourhood level from 2011 to 2021. City-wide, residents are more likely to be more educated than ten years earlier, and three sectors employ one-third of all workers. And some neighbourhoods are feeling the housing crisis much more than others: Sardis housing costs remained dirt cheap for many lucky homeowners, while hillside residents were largely living in unaffordable housing.  

The new profiles provide a fascinating snapshot of Chilliwack in 2021, with a number of key insights on how Chilliwack has changed since the 2010s. 

Statistics on neighbourhood-level were compiled for the City of Chilliwack based on 2021 census data. They are compilations of dissemination-level information for Chilliwack and First Nations communities. The report is available here.

New ways of living

The proportion of “non-traditional” households—essentially, any household that isn’t a couple or nuclear family—has increased significantly between 2011 and 2021, but still only makes up less than 15% of all households in most of Chilliwack. 📷 Grace Kennedy

Chilliwack’s population boomed between 2011 and 2021. The way people are living together isn’t necessarily the same as it was in 2011. 

Couples or people living alone accounted for more than half of the increase in new households in Chilliwack between the 2011 and 2021 censuses. 

Those aren’t necessarily young people. For the most part, adults aged 20-29 are getting out of Chilliwack. And while people in their 30s are moving in, they aren’t necessarily bringing their children with them. Only 12% of new households had three people, and only 9% had four people. However, 17% of new households had five or more people in them, echoing a similar increase in the number of “non-traditional” households in the community, as the report calls them. These households include multi-generational families, as well as roommates or multiple families living together.

Since 2011, “non-traditional” households have quadrupled in number. In 2021, there were 5,065 such households in the city.

Despite the increase, these “non-traditional” households still comprise a relatively small slice of all living arrangements in Chilliwack  And although multi-generational households are often linked to large populations of immigrants, that connection is muddier in Chilliwack. Such families are plentiful both in the Eastern Hillsides, which has a significant proportion of immigrants, and in Yarrow, which has the city’s smallest population of people born in another country.

Households with roommates or multiple families living together are most common in Rosedale, although Chilliwack Proper and Fairfield Island also have a relatively high proportion of these households.

Hillside explosions

While most communities in Chilliwack experienced relatively modest population increases between 2011 and 2021, the Eastern Hillsides boomed, nearly quadrupling its total population in those 10 years. đź“· Grace Kennedy

The populations of both Promontory and the Eastern Hillsides have significantly increased over the last 10 years, with the two hillside communities home to 5,500 more people than in 2021. Both areas boast the most expensive rents in the city, but only one of the neighbourhoods has had an increase in the proportion of people living in unaffordable conditions. 

In both Promontory and the Eastern Hillsides, the average rent comes in at $1,960 a month. (Owners in Promontory spend $1,900 for housing, while owners in the Eastern Hillsides pay $2,160 a month.) But while unaffordable living is on the decline in Promontory, according to the city’s collection of census statistics, the Eastern Hillsides has actually seen an increase. 

More than half—54%—of Eastern Hillsides renters were living in unaffordable housing 2021. That’s up from 40% five years earlier. The rise is likely partly attributed to increasing rents. But it’s also related to the fact that many Eastern Hillsides are new to the community and not locked into leases that predate the housing crisis. 

In 2011, the Eastern Hillsides had only 1,300 residents. By 2021, the area’s population nearly tripled, increasing to nearly 3,500 people. Although the community has the third-highest average income in Chilliwack, resident wages haven’t increased much from 2011—meaning that rising housing costs would have a greater impact there than in other communities. 

Promontory, whose average income is just beneath the Eastern Hillside’s, also saw a jump in population over those 10 years—but, proportionally,  not nearly as much as Eastern Hillsides. Promontory went from 8,500 people in 2011 to nearly 12,000 in 2021, a rise of around 40%. (That is similar to Vedder’s increase, compared to the 169% boom in the Eastern Hillsides). Rent prices took a massive leap in that time too, going from $795 a month to nearly $2,000. But while Eastern Hillsides incomes remained relatively stagnant, Promontory’s boomed, with incomes increasing 40% over the last 10 years.

So while more than half of renters and a third of owners in the Eastern Hillsides live in unaffordable housing, in Promontory, only 39% of renters and 15% of owners are in a similar position.

Construction, retail, health care biggest employers

City-wide, Chilliwack workers are primary employed in the retail, construction, or healthcare industries. However, Greendale and Rosedale both have a large proportion of their workers employed in agriculture. đź“· Grace Kennedy

Across Chilliwack, roughly one-third of all workers are employed in either retail, construction, or health care and social assistance. 

In most of the city’s neighbourhoods, around one in nine workers work in a retail job. That’s true both in places with many stores and outlying more-rural neighbourhoods. 

Despite Chilliwack’s fame as an agricultural community, few residents actually work in agricultural fields. Greendale and Rosedale both have agricultural work as the top employer in their neighbourhoods (19% and 13% respectively), but the industry doesn’t crack the top three anywhere else. 

Chilliwack’s rural neighbourhoods tended to have more people employed in construction. Those communities also generally saw their residents travelling around 15 to 30 minutes to get to work. 

The Eastern Hillsides had the longest commute, with 19% of its residents driving more than an hour to get to work. Those residents were most likely to work in health care (14%), construction (13%), or retail (12%). Sardis had the shortest average commute, with 48% of its residents travelling for less than 15 minutes. (This was likely not the result of people working from home, as it actually had the second-lowest proportion of people working out of their houses.)

Sardis seniors stay put

Sardis and downtown Chilliwack have the highest proportion of single-person households in Chilliwack, although their demographics are significantly different. đź“· Grace Kennedy

Household sizes may be increasing across Chilliwack, but two communities are still seeing a high proportion of people living alone. 

Downtown Chilliwack has the highest proportion of people living alone out of any neighbourhood in the city. Around 38% of households—a figure that hasn’t changed much from a decade ago—are made up of a single person.. 

Those singletons make less, on average, than any other community in Chilliwack, and although rent is the second-cheapest in Chilliwack, more than 40% of renters are living in unaffordable housing. 

Sardis also has a high proportion of singles, but the demographics of the community are quite different. 

While downtown Chilliwack is getting younger, with an average age of 40.8, Sardis is getting older. (More than one-third of Sardis residents are over the age of 60.) And while downtown has the highest proportion of renters in the city, far more people in Sardis own their own home. 

The high number of single-person households in Sardis is likely the result of single seniors who haven’t downsized from their family home. The median shelter cost for owners is only $715 a month in the community, which is far lower than the monthly cost of a newly purchased or rented home. (The average sale price for a single-family home in Sardis in 2021 was roughly $900,000, making the monthly mortgage payment for a new buyer likely around $5,000 a month.)

Incomes for Sardis singles have risen by around 40% in the last decade, and are parked right around the city median.

Chilliwack becoming more educated

The proportion of Chilliwack adults without a high school education has decreased nearly everywhere between 2011 and 2021, with the exception of Promontory and the Eastern Hillsides. đź“· Grace Kennedy

Across Chilliwack, more and more adults are more and more educated. 

Roughly 15% of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2021, compared to only 11% of residents a decade earlier. 

More residents are also completing their high-school diplomas. In 2021, 17% of Chilliwack adults didn’t have a diploma, down from 21% a decade earlier. (The neighbourhood exception is Eastern Hillsides and Promontory, which both have slightly higher proportions of non-diploma holders than 2011.) 

Ryder Lake and western Chilliwack are among Chilliwack’s most highly educated neighbourhoods, with 21% of residents having a bachelor's degree or higher in 2021. Only the Eastern Hillsides had a great proportion of super-educated residents (22%). Other communities with many university graduates include Promontory (19%), Yarrow (19%), and Little Mountain (19%). Fairfield Island, where 14% of residents graduated with a university degree in 2021, had the largest increase to its alumni population over the 10 years. 

The breakdown

Here’s the breakdown of some of the other neighbourhood specific data presented in Chilliwack’s report. You can read the full report here.

This story first appeared in the June 6 edition of the Fraser Valley Current newsletter. Subscribe for free to get Fraser Valley news in your email every weekday morning.


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