City’s pop­u­la­tion growth be­hind na­tional av­er­age

Cen­sus in­di­cates Hamil­ton grew by 3.7 per cent be­tween 2011 and 2016

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MARK MCNEIL The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor

NEW CEN­SUS FIG­URES show the in­flux of Toron­to­ni­ans to Hamil­ton in re­cent years is hav­ing lit­tle ef­fect on the city’s pop­u­la­tion. In fig­ures re­leased Wed­nes­day, Hamil­ton’s growth rate from 2011 to 2016 was the low­est of any of Canada’s ma­jor ci­ties.

Look­ing at the Hamil­ton Cen­sus Metropoli­tan Area (that in­cludes Burling­ton and Grimsby) the growth rate was 3.7 per cent com­pared to the Cana­dian av­er­age of 5 per cent.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Hamil­ton, on its own, fared worse. The growth rate for the city of Hamil­ton was 3.3 per cent over the same time pe­riod.

The pop­u­la­tion of Hamil­ton, the city, went from 519,949 in 2011 to 536,917 in 2016.

But city of Hamil­ton spokesper­son Ann La­manes says there is more to the story than less than av­er­age pop­u­la­tion growth.

“In short, de­spite what the cen­sus data may be in­di­cat­ing, progress is hap­pen­ing,” she said.

“Although the pop­u­la­tion in­crease is less than that of the na­tional av­er­age, we are head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Hamil­ton amal­ga­mated in 2001. Since then, we’ve seen the pop­u­la­tion grow. From 2001 to 2006, the growth rate was 2.9 per cent; from 2006 to 2011 it was 3.2 per cent and now we’ve reached 3.7 per cent growth.”

But how could Hamil­ton be a slow grower amid all the anec­do­tal sto­ries of peo­ple from the GTA mov­ing here to take ad­van­tage of cheaper hous­ing prices? Those Toronto buy­ers have been cited as a ma­jor driver in a red hot real es­tate mar­ket that has seen the av­er­age house price nearly double over the past decade.

Stacey Hall­man, an an­a­lyst with the de­mog­ra­phy di­vi­sion of Statis­tics Canada, said “Maybe they are mov­ing to the sub­urbs rather than the city cen­tre.”

A closer look would sug­gest there is some­thing to that. With a few neigh­bour­hood ex­cep­tions, most ur­ban ar­eas of Hamil­ton ex­pe­ri­enced no growth or less than 5 per cent growth, ac­cord­ing to the new cen­sus data. Lower Stoney Creek had more than 10 per cent, as did Glan­brook. Grimsby had 7.9 per com­pared to Burling­ton with 4.3 per cent.

McMaster so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Vic­tor Satzewich said “the 3.3. per cent (for the city of Hamil­ton) is be­low the na­tional rate but it is not all that bad. There are other places in east­ern Canada or even in On­tario that have seen pop­u­la­tion loss over the past five years.” One place that took it on the chin was nearby Brant­ford. Its growth de­clined by 1 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

Hall­man said the data re­leased Wed­nes­day does not go be­yond the ba­sic pop­u­la­tion growth num­bers. More de­tailed find­ings will be re­leased later this year. But pre­vi­ous Stat­sCan re­search shows that Hamil­ton does well when it comes to peo­ple mov­ing from other parts of the prov­ince — such as the GTA — as well as with new­com­ers from out­side the coun­try. But its birth rate (rel­a­tive to the death rate) and the rate of peo­ple com­ing from other provinces are low.

The cen­sus in­di­cated that Hamil­ton ranked No. 9 among the coun­try’s 35 cen­sus metropoli­tan ar­eas. La­manes also noted “we’re ac­tu­ally see­ing growth in Hamil­ton: we’ve had over $1 bil­lion in per­mits over the last six years straight; the hous­ing mar­ket is boom­ing; the un­em­ploy­ment rate is low; we’re see­ing a re­vi­tal­iza­tion in our down­town; we have the wa­ter­front pro­ject on the hori­zon; we’re re­ally start­ing to see a more vi­brant, re­vi­tal­ized Hamil­ton.”

The na­tional cen­sus is con­ducted ev­ery five years. Fur­ther data will be re­leased in stages over the next year that will in­creas­ingly give a more de­tailed pic­ture of the coun­try. Some sur­round­ing cen­sus ar­eas sur­passed the na­tional rate. Guelph in­creased by 7.7 per cent and Kitch­ener-Water­looCam­bridge grew by 5.5 per cent.

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