The 2016 census data released this week revealed Canada’s population to have reached 35.15 million. The other major finding was that a full one-third of Canadians now live in bigger cities, which are as a result getting bigger along with the surrounding surburbia. Meanwhile small cities are not growing or are actually shrinking as young people go out in search of better economic prospects and new Canadians have qualms about settling in towns that don’t offer much in terms of jobs.
A combined population of 12.5 million now live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, almost one half living in Toronto and its suburban neighbours, the data shows.
Canada is once again the fastest growing country in the G7, Statistics Canada says in the first of what will be seven tranches of 2016 census data to be released over the course of the year. Wednesday’s release focused on population and dwellings; the next one, in May, will be focused on age and sex.
The latest figures also show that the once yawning gulf in growth rates between the spreading suburbs and their urban centres has continued to narrow, with young professionals and aging baby boomers alike opting for the downtown-condominium life.
The census shows that 82 per cent of Canadian population live in large and medium-sized cities across the country, one of the highest concentrations among G7 nations. Immigration has driven that change with new arrivals settling in urban centres as opposed to rural communities.
Canada’s rural population is aging at a much faster rate than those in the urban centres, which tend to attract younger families, said Michael Haan, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ontario.
It’s why suburban lots over the years have become smaller, circuitous streets designed for cars are being replaced with a transit-and-foot-friendly grid system, and dwellings are increasingly being designed to allow young families to age in place.
So density is being encouraged rather than pushing further into the countryside.
Not all cities and towns in Canada are looking to keep their borders from expanding. Many are simply trying to hold on.
Several small towns in Nova Scotia not attached to an urban centre, such as New Glasgow, Cumberland and Digby, watched their population figures drop in the census.
Saint John, N.B., was one of only two metropolitan regions across Canada that saw a drop between 2011 and 2016 — from 70,065 to 67,575 — mirroring a larger provincial trend. New Brunswick’s population declined by 0.5 per cent, the only province to post negative growth since 2006.
Across the rest of Atlantic Canada, growth slowed largely because fewer immigrants came into the region and more people left the area to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
That elsewhere continued to be the West with Alberta growing at more than twice the national average, leading provincial growth for the third straight census cycle. Manitoba’s population increased by 5.8 per cent, surpassing the national average for the first time in 80 years largely on the back of new immigrants.
Almost one-third of Canadians now live in the West, the region’s largest share ever. Calgary and Edmonton were the fastest growing cities between 2011 and 2016, with Calgary leap-frogging Ottawa for fourth-largest overall behind the big three of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Quebec’s population surpassed the eight million mark and Ontario’s growth slowed to hit 13.4 million, still giving the two most populous provinces 61.5 per cent of the nation’s population.
Statistics Canada projections suggest natural, fertility-fuelled growth will decline in the coming years, thanks to an aging population and a declining birth rate, to less than one per cent, making migration by far the dominant source of growth by 2056.
Two things are for sure going forward- there will be robust immigration-fuelled population growth and the cost of housing in the top three cities will be an issue for a long time to come. – CINEWS