The last census indicated a lower median age among Creston residents, and anecdotal evidence to confirm that fact abounds.
It’s an important part of the arguments by supporters of keeping the Creston Education Centre open as a home to HomeLinks, Wildflower and pre-school programs and services—closing it is short-sighted and not warranted given the area’s demographic changes, they say.
In a video made by Save Our Creston Education Centre group, Lorne Mann, a notary public, and realtor Jamie Wall spoke about their experience with changing demographics in recent years.
Mann, who conducts many of the real estate transactions in the area, says that younger couples, typically with children, are purchasing properties at a previously unseen rate. They are coming to an area where owning a home and property is a realistic dream, unlike the Lower Mainland and other urban centres, he said.
Wall, a sales associate for Creston Valley Real Estate, echoes Mann’s observations.
“We have noticed a huge difference—even in the last five years—in the demographic that is moving here,” she said, adding that she has added a toy section to her office because so many families with children are arriving at her office.
Many of the younger newcomers relocating to the Creston Valley, she said, already have a business or a trade, or are looking to start a business.
“A lot of it has to do with, obviously, affordability. Even compared to the Okanagan prices we are still quite a bit lower. You can get a lot more for your money here,” she says. “A lot of them are focused on the lifestyle they want to give to their families. They are sick of the rat race. They’re sick of not having enough time with their families. “
Information from the Kootenay Real Estate Board, provided by Carol Guerts, an associate broker with Century 21 Veitch Realty, doesn’t track demographics. But it does illustrate where new property purchasers are coming from, and whether they are buying in town or the rural areas.
Buyers in Creston come primarily from the Creston Valley and area, comprising 55 percent of the total. Albertans come next, at 12 percent, with 11 percent coming from the Lower Mainland and 10 percent from the East Kootenay.
Rural buyers are significantly different. More than a third come from Alberta and 22 percent are from the East Kootenay. Only 13 percent relocate from the immediate area, while 10 percent come from the Lower Mainland, 10 percent from other provinces and 8 percent from the West Kootenay.
Wall says that much has changed since 2006 when her office dealt primarily with retirees.
“Some people will say that Creston is a bit of a gem, and I think we are starting to be discovered,” she says. “People are embracing the lifestyle that we have here in Creston. I don’t see this as something that isn’t going to continue.”