The latest census data reveals a couple of interesting statistics. Here in Waterloo Region, we are both younger than national average but older than we were.
Waterloo Region ranked just ahead of the City of Toronto as the sixth and seventh youngest demographic among Canada’s major centres. The census revealed that Canadian cities like Kitchener and Waterloo are still relatively young whereas suburban areas and bedroom communities like Brampton, Vaughan, and Whitby are getting older quite quickly.
The big demographic shift in the 1970s and 1980s lured young families to the city suburbs, and bedroom communities that surround major urban centres. Over the past 30 years, the kids have grown up and often moved away leaving the parents with their manicured back yards, well organized garages, repurposed bedrooms and the inevitable funky wallpaper, wall-to-wall carpet and out of date finishings and furniture. Seniors are staying in their family homes longer, often till the very end.
The mobility issue
For urban planners and policy makers, it will become a bit of an issue as suburban areas tend to be car dependant and seniors will eventually hit an age where driving will become an issue. City planners are considering how to help our cites become more age friendly. That means looking at public amenities and public services.
We still have more children than seniors in the region, but not for long. Although our burgeoning tech sector and universities are keeping the region young, Waterloo Region, like Canada is getting older because people are living longer and having fewer children.
Ontario is aging less rapidly than the national average.
In terms of housing, Waterloo is seeing more apartments and condominiums built and marketed to empty-nesters. It is thought that seniors can downsize, move to the core, close to transportation and amenities. I believe that there are some Boomers that have sold their suburban homes and are renting in the Barrel Yards and fewer still that have sold and bought an urban condo. My feeling is that these are the exceptions, not the rule.
What I see mostly is ‘aging in place’. But maybe this will change in time too. I know for myself, if I was twenty years older, I would be seriously considering cashing out and enjoying the freedom of renting or condo living.