The 2016 municipal census for Red Deer is completed and Red Deer shrank by 975 residents or by 0.967 per cent. This will be a greater concern if Blackfalds keeps the title of fastest growing community in Alberta and if Penhold sees growth for 2016.
The concern that bothers me is not only that the city is shrinking but the interior migration is getting little attention.
If you look at the neighbourhoods on the north side of the river, there is reason for concern. Kentwood, Glendale, Normandeau, Pines, Highland Green, Oriole Park, Riverside Meadows, Fairview and Johnstone Park which comprised 31.9 per cent of the population in 2015, now in 2016 is down to 31.4 per cent while the south side neighbourhoods went from 68.1 per cent in 2015 to 68.6 per cent in 2016.
The north side lost 2.4 per cent of their population while the south side lost 0.28 per cent of their population. So the north side is losing residents 8.6 times faster than the south. In one year the north side lost 777 residents while the south side lost only 193. If economic factors was the major factor in depopulation would it not have been expected that the numbers would be reversed.
After talking to some newcomers to Red Deer, and statements like “our realtor recommended that we not buy on the north side of the river,” citing lower returns on investment, higher crime rates, poorer air, no high schools and shortage of recreational facilities.
So during an economic downturn, it would be a great time to regroup and take advantage and move to the south side, better returns, less crime, cleaner air and less travelling to high schools and facilities. So it would seem.
So how did we get to this point of having these prejudices against the north side ingrained in our daily lives? Is this depopulation a sign of ghettoizing of the north side, and if so what can we do ensure fairness to all?
As the saying goes: “If you are not growing, you are dying.” I would be interested in seeing about the growth rates of neighbouring communities and whether we should be concerned or if this year’s census is an anomaly, a result of a poor census.
Should we Rethink Red Deer? I think we should.