It’s Christmas… In February

On February 8th, the first batch of the 2016 Census data is released. Although only the population and dwelling counts are being released next week, it is the first stage of a year long release…. pretty much Christmas all year long.

What does this mean for our region?

Well the bast way I can describe the population and dwelling count release is that it is little more than tease, offering up little more than top line numbers on population change, its change between 2011 and 2016, dwelling counts and number of dwelling occupied, land areas and population density. For some context as to what the numbers could look like here is the Windsor CMA broken out from 2011.

Windsor LaSalle Lakeshore Tecumseh Ahmerstburg
Population in 2011 210,891 28,643 34,546 23,610 21,556
Population in 2006 216,473 27,652 33,245 24,224 21,748
2006 to 2011 population change (%) -2.6 3.6 3.9 -2.5 -0.9
Total private dwellings 96,483 10,103 13,080 8,832 8,600
Private dwellings occupied by usual residents 87,830 9,901 12,331 8,657 8,124
Pop. density per square  km 1,441.30 438.6 65.1 249.3 116.1
Land area (square km) 146.32 65.3 530.32 94.69 185.68

The key thing to keep in mind when these numbers are released is that there is not a lot of context. These numbers provide us a what, not a why and there are underlying root causes that are far more important than the top line numbers themselves.  To imply knowing the why or connecting these numbers to a specific factor is premature and speculative. This isn’t to say that we can’t infer somethings from the data that comes out but without some of the broader underlying ethno-demographic and socio-economic data or their breakouts at a tract or dissemination area level its really hard to say what the causes or impacts are.

Important Things to Remember

  • Do not freak out a census is every 5 years, Windsor is 125 years old. A under preforming census isn’t the end of the world for any community.
  • Do not let anyone amplify a single line item within this initial data release to the point of crisis.
  • Remember all of the data was collected May-July 2016. This means it missed the second half of the year (auto contracts, hirings, FINA etc.).
  • The census is a point in time, the data today is already outdated but it provides a new benchmark moving forward. All population projections, growth charts etc. need to be re-calibrated.
  • Due to land areas of the communities not changing since 2011 (to my knowledge), the populations densities will fluctuate and people will make big deals of simple tweaking a numerator.

Some Bold/Educated Predictions 

  • Windsor’s population will get back above 2006 levels but the gap between dwellings and uninhabited dwellings will remain large.
  • Amherstburg will see positive growth in the 2-3% range
  • LaSalle will be flirting with 30,000 people with both it and Lakeshore breaking 4% population growth.
  • Tecumseh will growth will continue to lag as combos of geography and competition see it passed over by population grown and dwelling construction.
  • Looking further afield, Kingsville’s growth will probably compete with Lakeshore and LaSalle.
  • Leamington will be relatively flat from a growth standpoint.
  • Essex will probably continue to struggle, I suspect that the town itself does okay with marginal growth (~1%) but Harrow and southern Essex struggle.

2 thoughts on “It’s Christmas… In February

  1. Something that will probably act as a positive for the data are the many people who left for Alberta after the financial crisis and returned to Windsor when the oil price fell last year.

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