Census trends in Trinity-Conception-Placentia
Larger towns grow while smaller ones lose residents
The overall picture shows the region as a whole is holding steady as far as the population is concerned, but data from the 2016 census shows plenty of people in Trinity-Conception-Placentia are on the move.
Released earlier this month, the data shows Newfoundland and Labrador’s overall population grew approximately one per cent to over 2011, reaching 519,716.
The overall population for The Compass’ coverage area is approximately 41,000, on par with what the data showed for 2011 (this number does not include several unincorporated communities).
However, the vast majority of smaller coastal communities are shrinking. Data suggests towns like Carbonear and Bay Roberts are attracting at least some of those people.
On the loop stretching from Salmon Cove to Bay de Verde and all the way down to Heart’s Content, every community witnessed a population decline. It was much the same for other Trinity Bay communities, with some notable exceptions. Whiteway, Green’s Harbour and Blaketown all grew, attracting somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 additional residents each.
For towns with a population already exceeding 1,000 residents, Clarke’s Beach went up the most, increasing its population compared to 2011 by 11.6 per cent to 1,558 residents. That represents a 20.9 per cent increase from 2006, when fewer than 1,300 lived in the Conception Bay North community.
“It’s good to feel and know the town is stable, and that’s one of the things that’s been talked about so much,” Mayor Betty Moore told The Compass last week. “Are towns and areas able to sustain themselves? Are people willing to come and move in and live here? In our situation here in the town, we see that as very positive for us.”
Clarke’s Beach is not a town with a lot of services itself, but it is next door to Bay Roberts, and St. John’s is a car-ride away for commuters. Moore said the town has concentrated on improving its park services, knowing there are young families moving to Clarke’s Beach.
The municipality’s tax policy may also help its cause. For 2017, it was one of the few municipalities in the region to reduce its mil rate for homeowners, dropping it from 6.0 to 5.5. With some debts recently coming off the books, council felt it was in a position to reduce taxes while maintaining services.
“That’s a cost savings for everyone,” she said.
Bay Roberts, Carbonear still growing
Meanwhile, the two largest towns in Conception Bay North continue to grow.
Bay Roberts’ population now exceeds 6,000 according to the latest census data, increasing by 3.3 per cent (almost 200 residents). Growth did slow somewhat compared to 2011, when the town’s population increased by almost 400 residents at a rate of 7.9 per cent compared to 2006. Overall, Bay Roberts’ population has increased by 19.9 per cent since 2006.
“I sort of expected this because of the simple fact we’ve had approximately 500 new housing permits issued in the town the past 11 years,” Mayor Philip Wood told The Compass, noting this is the third census in a row the town has experienced growth.
With three schools, a variety of services available to residents and a close commute to St. John’s and major industrial projects, Wood reckons Bay Roberts has a lot going for it when it comes to attracting residents.
Carbonear is in a similar situation. Mayor George Butt Jr. mentioned the hospital as a significant asset for the town when it comes to attracting retirees and older residents. Like Bay Roberts, it also has a variety of shops (including three grocery stores), two schools in the K-12 system and a College of the North Atlantic campus.
“We’re the business core of the whole area,” the mayor told The Compass.
Carbonear’s population increased by 2.5 per cent to 4,858 in the 2016 census. That’s a considerable jump over the period from 2006 to 2011, when the town’s population grew by a mere 0.3 per cent.
With populations continuing to decline in most rural communities, Wood contends there’s a strengthened case for towns to discuss regionalization and amalgamation.
“It’s very difficult for individual councils to provide service and meet the needs and expectations of their citizens,” he said. “With a declining tax base, you’re certainly putting more of a burden, I feel, on your residents — many of whom are seniors. I think we’ve got to come together much faster than we’ve been doing.”
Towns represented on the Conception Bay North Joint Council are currently forming a committee to look at the possibility of putting a question on regionalization to a plebiscite vote this fall during municipal elections.
Among the larger communities in the TrinityConception- Placentia area, two experienced notable declines in population. Harbour Grace’s 2016 census numbers fell below 3,000, dropping from 3,131 in 2011 to 2,995 — a 4.3 per cent decline. Placentia lost approximately 150 residents, falling to 3,496 (-4.0 per cent). In 2006, Placentia had a population of almost 3,900.
With a declining tax base, you’re certainly putting more of a burden, I feel, on your residents — many of whom are seniors. — Mayor Philip Wood
Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.
Carbonear Mayor George Butt Jr.