The latest population of Kelowna is 142,146. The wider Kelowna metropolitan area has a population of 222,748.
This makes Kelowna the 8th largest largest city in British Columbia (BC), and the third largest metropolitan area in the province after Vancouver and Victoria.
This page will be updated in 2022 to include data from the most recent 2021 census.
Kelowna Population Growth
Kelowna’s population was first recorded in the 1901 census as 200 people.
Kelowna grew steadily in its early years after it was officially incorporated as a city in 1905. At that time, the city had a population of just 600 people. By 1971 its population had grown to 19,412.
Since then population growth has continued to grow rapidly and, by the 2016 census reported that 127,380 people live in Kelowna. The wider Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area, with a growth rate of 3.1% was in 2016 the fastest growing CMA in Canada.
Growth in Kelowna is driven more by internal migration (people moving to Kelowna from somewhere else in BC or in Canada) more than international migration (people moving to Kelowna from a country other than Canada. In 2016, 15% of people who live in Kelowna were born outside of Canada.
Kelowna Metro Population
The Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area has the same area as the Regional District of Central Okanagan, one of 27 regional districts in the province of British Columbia.
There are two cities in the district – Kelowna and West Kelowna (population 32,655 in 2016).
There are also two other major municipalities within the district – Lake Country (population 12.922 in 2016) and Peachland (population 5,428 in 2016).
In total, 9.5% of the population of Kelowna is from a visible minority.
The largest visible minority group in Kelowna is South Asian (2.6% of the population), followed by Chinese (1.5%), Filipino (1.2%) Japanese (1.0%), Black (0.8%), Latin American (0.6%) and Korean (0.5%).
The city used to have a much larger Chinese population – in 1911 15% of Kelowna residents were Chinese. The population was so significant that Sun Yet-sen, who would become President of China the following year, visited the city to raise funds.
Kelowna Aboriginal Population
A further 6.3% of Kelowna’s population is part of an aboriginal group. First Nations make up the largest proportion (4.485 people or 3.6% of the population), followed by Métis (3,525 / 2.8%) and Inuit (120 / 0.1%).
Christians make up the largest religious group in Kelowna. In 2011, 53.8% of people in the city were Christian. A further 42.8% reported that they had no religious affiliation (including atheists). The next largest religious group was Sikh (1.1%), followed by Buddhist (0.4%), Hindu (0.3%), Muslim (0.3%) and Jewish (0.2%).
Protestants made up the largest Christian grouping, with 29.2% of the total population, followed by Catholics (15.5%), and Orthodox Christians (0.8%). A further 8.3% of people reported being from another Christian group.
English is the most commonly spoken language in Kelowna. In 2016, 99.4% of people reported that they spoke English. 92.2% of people spoke English only, and a further 7.2% of people spoke English and French.
English is the mother tongue, however, of only 84.6% of the population. 1.6% of people reported that French was their mother tongue, and 12.7% of people reported another language as their mother tongue.
The population density of Kelowna city is 601.3 people per km2 or 1,557 people per square mile.
The population density of the Kelowna Metro area is 75 people per km2 or 190 people per square mile.
Sources / Further Reading
Unless otherwise noted, data in this article is from Statistics Canada.