City’s population growth behind national average
Census indicates Hamilton grew by 3.7 per cent between 2011 and 2016
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.