Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pelham Changing through the Years

You may recall that my last column was about the demographics of Pelham -- that is, the study of human population for our Town.

You see, Statistics Canada recently released new information from the 2011 Census. And, since they also provide information for communities from the 2006, 2001 and 1996 Census, one can compare the make-up and growth of our population over a fifteen-year period.

As you may know, Pelham is the fastest growing municipality in the Region. Since our formation in 1970, we have grown from 9,855 to 16,598 in 2011.  That’s a 68.4% increase! The next largest increases are West Lincoln at 68.1%, Grimsby at 67%, Lincoln at 65%; the entire Region’s population grew by only 28% during that period.

During the last 15 years, Pelham’s population grew from 14,345 in 1996, to 15,275 in 2001, to 16,155 in 2006, and to 16,598 in 2011.

But, the story becomes more interesting when one looks at age groups.

For example, our Town's population of children (aged 14 and younger) declined in raw numbers over the last 15 years – from 2,920 in 1996 to 2,535 in 2011. This was a 13% decrease! It’s no surprise, therefore, that the proportion of children to the total population also dropped 5% from 20% of our Town in 1996 to 15% in 2011. According to a 2008 Regional report, the proportion of children across the Region is expected to decline from 16.4% in 2006 to 14.3% in 2031.

What about our seniors -- those aged 65 and older?  In 1996 there were 1,925 seniors in Pelham; in 2011 Statistics Canada counted 3,450. That's a 79% increase!  Seniors now make up 21% of our population, up from 13% in 1996. Across the Region, the proportion of seniors is expected to increase from 17% in 2006 to 27% in 2031.

Statistics Canada provides some very broad categories for comparison over the last decade-and-a-half.  For example, Pelham's population aged zero to 24 declined 4% from 4,820 in 1996 to 4,635 in 2011.  Our population aged 25 to 54 (the "working-age" population) declined more than 6% from 6,095 in 1996 to 5,715 in 2011.

So, broadly speaking, where was the majority of our growth concentrated?  Those 55-and-older grew a phenomenal 82% from 3,400 in 1996 to 6,255 in 2011!

(It is important to note that any demographic changes result from both new residents moving here, others moving away, and from the aging of current residents.)

While one must be cautious about broad comparisons from relatively small sub-sets of our population, these numbers appear to show a trend. As your Mayor, I continue to consider what these demographic realities mean for our current and future public services.