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Silverton perplexed over 2021 census figure

The mayor of Silverton says he can’t understand the 2021 census results for his village, which showed a decline in population from 195 to 149.

“We were surprised,” Colin Ferguson says. “It didn’t make much sense to us. We couldn’t really wrap our heads around it. We’ve had quite a bit of activity in the village over the past couple of years.”

Silverton is the smallest municipality in the West Kootenay and the second smallest in BC. It held perfectly steady on the 2011 and 2016 censuses, recording 195 citizens each time.

However, it was one of three local municipalities to show a decline this time, and had by far the sharpest drop, both in terms of actual people and percentage-wise (down 23.6 per cent).

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Ferguson says that doesn’t square with what he’s observed.

“Right now we have two new house builds. We had another new house build in 2018. Off the top of my head, I can think of 16-17 new households who have moved to town. Two of those are households of four, the rest are two.”

Even allowing for people selling, moving, and being replaced by others, “we just don’t understand it. The level of activity in the village has not changed that we can see. We’re a bit doubtful.”

Ferguson says Silverton does have quite a few retirees who travel and leave the community for a month or two at a time, as well as a number of people who own summer homes and only stay for a few months, making it hard to get an exact headcount.

He adds that every house on the market has sold within the past year, and while some of the purchasers may be absentee owners, he knows of many that are not.

He says he is not sure whether Statistics Canada made a mistake, nor does he know whether the census figure will actually have any effect, although “it may reflect on funding at some level.”

“Anecdotally, it doesn’t jive with what we have experienced and are experiencing. It could be they’ve missed a lot of people.”

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