Young and connected, city grows to 91,877

Red Deer’s official head count now stands at 91,877, thanks to a two per cent population boost.

Red Deer’s official head count now stands at 91,877, thanks to a two per cent population boost.

As well, in a city where the average age is 33, almost two-thirds of households use social media such as Facebook.

On Wednesday, the City of Red Deer released its census numbers for 2011, showing that Alberta’s third largest city had grown by 1,793 residents.

The increase shows a change from 2010, when a 0.215 per cent increase was recorded, bringing the number to 90,084 people.

Red Deer Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Schollie said he was “quite pleased” to hear that Red Deer saw some population growth because it’s a good economic indicator.

“The increase is really spot on in terms of what we’ve been experiencing economically,” said Schollie on Wednesday.

During economic boom times several years ago, Red Deer was seeing population growth of four to five per cent, he added.

In 2006, Red Deer had a population of 82,772 living in 33,894 dwellings, a 22 per cent increase from 2001.

“When things slowed down and we had the economic recession, we practically didn’t see any growth,” Schollie said.

“Now, we’re seeing moderate growth, not gangbusters (growth).”

The strongest growth occurred on Red Deer’s south end, with 348 new residents in Lancaster and 269 new residents in Sunnybrook South. Glendale saw a decline of 104 residents while the Riverside Meadows neighbourhood dropped by 135 residents — both of which may be attributed to residents relocating or that children in those older areas may have grown up and left home.

The average age of people living in Red Deer is 33 and the male-female percentages are split almost evenly.

Census workers tallied that 21,348 households out of 39,000 used social media including Facebook, Twitter and My Space.

“We asked the social networking question to find out how residents are using the web and the responses will help us tailor our website and communications to better meet our citizen’s needs,” said Julia Harvie-Shemko, communications manager.

The municipal census information helps the city with future planning of residents’ needs, school locations and parks. The numbers also help with gaining provincial grants.

The complete 2011 census report is expected to be released by mid-June.