February 21st, 2024

Hat adds just 11 people in five years

By COLLIN GALLANT on February 10, 2022.

The City of Medicine Hat has hardly grown in population at all over the past five years, according to official census data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

The population of Medicine Hat rose by just 11 people over the course of five years, according to the 2021 census data released Wednesday.

The figure, 63,271, leaves population change at essentially zero, compared to a growth rate in Alberta of 4.8 per cent, while Redcliff and Cypress County lost residents.

The first data release from Statistics Canada, which conducted its traditional five-year census in 2021, was released on Wednesday.

That related to bare population figures and showed Canada’s total population grew by about 1.7 million people since 2016 and now sits at 36,991,981.

That equates to a 5.2 per cent growth rate over five years, while Alberta’s came in at 4.8 per cent.

That raised the population of the province by about 200,000 to a total of 4,262,635.

Despite the lack of local growth, Medicine Hat remained Canada’s 50th largest city.

It also remains the fifth largest city in Alberta, but only in a measure when greater metropolitan areas are considered.

That comparison conglomerates surrounding areas and blends bedroom communities an suburbs of major centres (such as counting St. Albert, with 68,000 residents, in the Edmonton area, or Airdrie’s 74,000 in Calgary) removing them from the analysis.

Airdrie recorded the second highest growth rate of any municipality in Alberta at 20.3 per cent.

In Medicine Hat’s census conglomeration area, Redcliff’s population fell by 19 citizens to sit at 5,581.

Cypress County’s sits at 7,524, about two per cent lower than five years ago.

Localized data on age, income levels and language from the national survey will be released throughout the spring. Housing, ethnicity and education will be outlined in the summer and fall.

When the 2016 census was completed, analysts from StatCan noted that aging trends and especially the baby-boomer generation, would lead to lower population growth nationally.

That year showed local growth of about 5 per cent from 2011, creating confusion about local estimates and especially after a net increase of fewer than 100 residents became a major issue in the 2013 municipal election.

City census

The City of Medicine Hat has not conducted a municipal census since 2015, when the effort conducted by the city clerk’s office returned a number of 63,018. Those are typically done by local officials to capture shadow population, like college students or long-term visitors who use city services, but often claim a main residence elsewhere.

It can also increase the amount of money the city receives in “per-capita” grants from other levels of government

In the 2019 provincial budget, the Alberta government moved to prevent such data being used in grant programs and now sets its own figures for internal use. At that point, the city cancelled a planned census stating there would be no benefit to the $100,000 item. The current figure used by Municipal Affairs is 65,203, based on general growth estimates since 2017.

Populations of centres of importance in the region: Brooks, 14,924, up 3.3 per cent; M.D. of Taber, 7,447, up 4.9 per cent; Town of Taber, 8,862, up 5.1 per cent; Bow Island 2,036, up 2.7 per cent; Vauxhall 1,286, up 5.2 per cent; County of Forty Mile 3,471, down 3.1 per cent; Foremost 630, up 16.5 per cent; Oyen, 917, down 8.4 per cent; Special Areas No. 2, 1,860, down 2.4 per cent; Special Areas No. 3, 1,142, down 1 per cent); M.D. of Acadia, 494, plus 1 person, even; Empress, 148, plus 13 people; and Newell County, 7,465, down 0.8 per cent.

In southwest Saskatchewan, Swift Current now has 16,750 residents, up 0.9 per cent from 2016, and Maple Creek boasts 2,176 represents, a gain of 4.4 per cent. That province’s average of 3.1 per cent.

The R.M. of Maple Creek also gained about 100 residents and now sits with 1,167, and the town of Leader also saw an increase of 2.1 per cent, to 881.

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