For the first time, visible minorities are the majority in Vancouver as a new wave of South Asian immigrants is changing the face of the city.
According to 2006 census data released yesterday by Statistics Canada, visible minorities account for 51 per cent of Vancouver’s roughly 612,000 people, up from 37 per cent in 2001 and 31 per cent in 1996.
In Richmond and Burnaby those numbers are even higher, where 65.1 per cent and 55.4 per cent of the population respectively are visible minorities.
Statistics Canada also found South Asians have surpassed Chinese for the first time to become the country’s largest visible minority group.
In Metro Vancouver, while Chinese still outnumber South Asians at 18 per cent of the population, the gap is closing.
The region’s Chinese population grew by 11.3 per cent between 2001 and 2006, down from 22.8 per cent in the previous decade.
South Asians make up nearly 10 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population, at 207,200 people, up from 8.4 per cent in 2001.
Andrew Ramlo, director of the Urban Futures Institute, said immigrants come to the Lower Mainland because they are met with social support networks in their own language.
“There’s an immigrant receiving community here for a lot of those individuals,” he said.