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July 25 - The Now News

Stephen Thomson, Coquitlam NOW
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If young faces seem abundant in the Tri-Cities, it's no mistake.

The 2006 census figures released last week show Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody are among the top 10 cities in the Lower Mainland with the biggest proportion of residents under the age of 15.

In Port Moody, ranked third after Maple Ridge and Surrey, one in five residents (20 per cent) are 14 or younger.

And those demographics may be having an impact on the community. Local day-care operators agree that parents struggle to find child-care space for their children as they face staggering queues or outright rejection.

"Our wait-list is astronomical ... we definitely feel that right now," said Reaghan Gasparre, executive director of Monkey's Playhouse, which has locations in Port Moody and Coquitlam.

"You would have to put your name on the wait-list literally when you find out you're pregnant," she said, explaining there are not enough services for those under three years of age.

The story is similar from Safia Barr, director of Kinder Kampus, a child-care provider that has operated out of Port Moody since 2000. She said parents are in for a wait of four to five years.

"We have an extremely long waiting list," Barr said.

"All in all, we definitely have a shortage of child-care space."

Both child-care providers have noticed families coming into Port Moody from larger communities in the region such as Vancouver and North Vancouver.

"We've had a lot from North Vancouver moving here," Barr said.

While Port Moody may be the local city with the highest proportion of young people, Port Coquitlam is right behind with just less than 20 per cent of its residents younger than 15.

Meanwhile, Coquitlam comes in 10th out of Lower Mainland communities with more than 17 per cent of its population in that age group.

But Port Moody also stands out from the other two cities, showing a swell in its proportion of younger residents compared to census data from 2001.

"In the Tri-Cities area, Port Moody is the only one that's seen a growth in the number of children," said Peter Liang, a Statistics Canada communications officer.

Liang was referring to an eight-per-cent increase, while Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam saw decreases of roughly the same amount.

The three cities have also seen an overall increase in population since 2001, according to the census figures Statistics Canada released July 17.

Port Moody grew the most, up 3,696 to 27,512. Meanwhile, Coquitlam grew by 1,675 to 114,565 and Port Coquitlam by 1,430 to 52,687.

Port Moody also saw the most growth in its senior population, which increased by more than 36 per cent from 2001.

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