Whites will be a distinct visible minority in Metro Vancouver in less than two decades, according to a new report.
After being an overwhelming majority in Metro Vancouver up until the 1980s, whites will make up only two out of five residents by the year 2031, according to projections done for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
University of British Columbia geographer Daniel Hiebert also predicts that ethnic groups in Metro will increasingly concentrate in neighbourhood enclaves, creating a degree of racial segregation paralleled only by blacks and whites in major U.S. cities
The rate of immigration into Metro Vancouver will continue to be so rapid that, by 2031, only one out of four residents of the region will have grandparents who lived in Canada, the veteran social geographer writes in his research paper titled, A New Residential Order?
“There is no European city with anything like this demographic structure, nor will there be in 2031,” writes Hiebert, who, as co-director of research and policy forum Metropolis B.C., has travelled the world studying immigration patterns.
Hiebert’s analysis of census data forecasts the largest ethnic group in Metro Vancouver will be Chinese, followed by South Asians, Filipinos, Koreans and West Asians (such as Iranians).
Without declaring whether these demographic trends will be negative or positive for Metro, Hiebert nevertheless says the “scale of ethnographic change over (the next) period will be larger and more rapid than anything we have seen previously.”
The only major city that will match Metro Vancouver in dramatic growth of ethnic populations will be Toronto, says Hiebert’s report, which can be found on the immigration department’s website.(http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/ ... ential.asp)
“Toronto and Vancouver are likely to have a social geography that is entirely new to Canada.”
Calling it a “grand story” of demographic change, Hiebert predicts that Metro Vancouver’s so-called ethnic population will grow seven times faster than the combined white and aboriginal population.
Based on immigration and birthrates, Hiebert’s report predicts that by 2031 the number of visible minorities (or non-whites) in Metro Vancouver will rise by 1.150 million people; to 59 per cent of the population compared to 41 per cent in 2006.
The white population, meanwhile, will grow by only 150,000.
According to Hiebert’s model, Metro Toronto’s visible minority population will mushroom by 3.3 million, with whites accounting for just 37 per cent of its residents by 2031.
The largest religion in Metro Vancouver in less than two decades will remain Christian, since many Asian immigrants either arrive as Christians or convert after they’re here.
The next largest religious group, according to Hiebert, will be Sikhs, followed by Muslims and Buddhists. Metro will continue to have a large proportion of people who will say they have “no religion,” in part because Chinese immigrants tend to fall into that category.
Hiebert arrived at his ethnic and religious forecasts by using algorithms to extrapolate ethnographic trends of the recent decades up to 2031.
He acknowledges demographic developments could change unexpectedly, but sees no obvious indications that they will. Inventing a new term, Hiebert’s 32-page report says it’s clear Metro Vancouver and Toronto are rapidly becoming “majority-minority” cities, by which he means visible minorities (non-whites) are becoming the majority.
One of Hiebert’s most stark predictions for Metro Vancouver and Toronto regards the increasing rise of ethnic enclaves.
Indeed, Hiebert cites a popular standing joke to describe just how ethnically segregated Metro Vancouver has already become:
“Question: What river separates China and India?
“Answer: the Fraser River (which separates Richmond and Surrey).”
Such sharp ethnic segregation in Metro’s suburbs is only expected to increase by 2031, according to Hiebert. He predicts the number of minority-group ethnic enclaves to more than double in Metro Vancouver.
His model forecasts that 800,000 ethnic Chinese in Metro Vancouver will live in “polarized” enclaves by 2031. At the same time, more than 500,000 South Asians will inhabit their own ethnic enclaves.
However, Hiebert does not necessarily predict that the city’s fast-rising enclaves will be ripe with poverty or “strained social relations.”
Highly aware of riots that have occurred in ethnic enclaves in London, Paris and elsewhere based on a “sense of hopelessness among youth,” Hiebert acknowledges that members of many ethnic enclaves in Metro Vancouver have tended to be slightly more dependent on government support.
Nevertheless, Hiebert says the future of an ethnically segregated Metro Vancouver, as well as Toronto, could unfold in two sharply divergent ways.
If most members of ethnic groups maintain the solid levels of home ownership, access to the labour market and education that they do now, things should remain relatively robust in most Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods.
However, Hiebert suggested that ethnic enclaves could have a negative impact on the larger society if their inhabitants experience high unemployment, falter in the education system and fail to “integrate.”
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