Red Deer joins rest of Alberta in leading population growth

10.9-per-cent increase “good news”: City manager Craig Curtis

Red Deer was re-confirmed as Alberta’s third largest city and is growing steadily, the first release of the latest federal census data showed on Wednesday.

Red Deer’s population is 100,418, according to Statistics Canada. The number is based on May 10, 2016, the official day the census was conducted across the country.

Red Deer has grown by 10.9 per cent over five years since the last national census in 2011, which counted a population of 90,564. The latest numbers are more than double the national rate of five per cent, and aren’t too far off the Alberta provincial rate of 11.6 per cent.

The 100,000 mark tends to result in the city finding its way into certain external publications that list cities above that number, Red Deer City Manager Craig Curtis said. Psychologically, and from an economic development perspective, there are benefits.

“I see the federal census as good news in that regard.”

“10.9 is excellent. … It’s consistent with the rest of Alberta and it’s consistent with the fact that Alberta has, over time, out-performed everywhere else, and hopefully we’ll begin to get back onto that track in the not-too-distant future,” Curtis said.

Lethbridge, Alberta’s fourth largest city, tallied up a population 92,729, which represents an 11-per-cent increase over the 2011 census of 83,517.

Overall, Alberta had the highest growth in Canada for the third consecutive census. As for the rest of the provinces, Saskatchewan was a distant second to Alberta, at 6.3 per cent.

On a national basis, the numbers show Red Deer is the 54th largest municipality (census division) in Canada, out of 4,870.

Alberta’s population is now 4,067,175. That’s an increase of 6.4 per cent over the 2011 census that showed there were 3,647,257 Albertans. As for the country as a whole, Canada’s population is now 35,151,728 million, an increase of 1.7 million over 2011.

Other data released shows Red Deer had 42,285 private dwellings, and of those, 39,982 were occupied by permanent residents. The city’s population density per square kilometre is 958.8.

The City of Red Deer’s own municipal census last year actually showed the previous year’s milestone population of over 100,000 dropping for the first time in decades, and below 100,00.

In 2015, the population crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time, reaching 100,807. But in 2016 the population was recorded at 99,832, most likely due to the economic downturn.

Curtis said the difference in numbers between the municipal and the federal censuses could be because they were taken at slightly different points in time and it’s not unusual for the numbers to differ slightly.

More comprehensive census data will be revealed by Statistics Canada as 2017 unfolds.

barr@reddeeradvocate.com