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Prince George by the numbers

Posted on 8 February 2012

Hey, new census results!

Statistics Canada released its latest population numbers this morning. I looked up Prince George and found three different things: census subdivision, census agglomeration, and population centre. I had no ideas what these are, so I looked them up. Here’s what I’ve found.

Census subdivision:

“Area that is a municipality or an area that is deemed to be equivalent to a municipality for statistical reporting purposes (e.g., as an Indian reserve or an unorganized territory). Municipal status is defined by laws in effect in each province and territory in Canada.”

This is the actual population living within the city limits of Prince George– if you’re in the regional district, you aren’t included, for example.

Prince George’s census subdivision looks like this (via StatsCan):

The population here is 71,974, up 993 people (or 1.4%) from the 2006 census.

There’s also the regional district, which is the broader population that includes Prince George, Mackenzie, McBride and Valemount, and those living outside of cities/villages. Here’s what it looks like on a map (via Wikipedia):

For this broader geographical area there was actually a decline from 92,264 to 91,879- down by 385 or 0.4%.

Census Agglomeration:

“A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a large urban area (known as the urban core). The census population count of the urban core is at least 10,000 to form a census agglomeration and at least 100,000 to form a census metropolitan area. To be included in the CMA or CA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from census place of work data.”

My understanding of this is that this essentially the service area– people for which Prince George serves as the place where they get things like major shopping, hospital stays, etc. In some ways, the “real” population.

Prince George’s census metropolitan area looks like this:

It’s sitting at 84,232, up from 83,225 in 2006 — 1,007 people, or 1.2%.

Population Centre:

“A population centre will be defined as an area with a population of at least 1,000 and a density of 400 or more people per square kilometre. All areas outside population centres will continue to be defined as rural area. This new terminology will be implemented consistently across the Agency.”

So this, I suppose, is a measure of how many people live “in the city.” And in the city means at least somewhat densely populated– so even if you’re in city limits, you may not be in the population centre. Here’s what Prince George’s looks like:

What’s interesting to me is the difference in geographical area between Prince George’s city limits and Prince George’s “population centre.” The city itself is 318.26 square km, but the population centre is only 99.93 square km- mostly centred in what I would say are the main parts of the city: downtown, College Heights, and up towards the Hart. No one east of the Fraser is included, so if you live towards the airport you are not in this region. Same with anyone on Cranbrook Hill.

The population here is 65,503, up 437 (0.7%) from 2006’s 65,066.

So…. no mindblowing changes. Growth isn’t exactly keeping pace with Canada (which grew by 5.9%), and definitely not with British Columbia (up 7.0%). The Peace is booming, the northwest continues in something of a decline… Prince George is just staying the same. While my inclination is that a lack of rapid growth isn’t exactly a bad thing, I’m sure others will disagree. It will be interesting to see how this information is interpreted and used in the coming years.

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