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Is Durham total population 696,992 or 723,129?

The 2021 Census population reported by Statistics Canada for Durham Region is 696,992, an increase of 7.92 per cent since 2016.

However, this figure does not include an estimate of the census net undercoverage, which accounts for factors such as missed enumeration and processing errors, according to Durham Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development.

Based on previous years, it is estimated that the 2021 net undercoverage for Durham will be approximately 3.75 per cent, which would result in a 2021 population for Durham of 723,129 persons, said the commissioner in a report released in April, and obtained by Durham Post.

This figure is slightly higher than the population estimate of 713,680 reported by the Planning Division through its December 2021 report on Monitoring of Growth Trends, which presents population estimates based on housing completions and unit occupancy estimates, said the report.

Compared to 7.92 per cent Durham population growth, between 2016 and 2021, Canada’s population increased 5.2 per cent, from 35,151,728 to 36,991,981, compared with a 5 per cent increase during the previous five-year period. Immigration accounted for roughly four-fifths of Canada’s population growth during this period.

Canada’s largest urban agglomerations are divided into 43 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). In 2021, the CMAs accounted for 78 per cent of Canada’s population (28,769,426 persons), representing a 9.6 per cent increase since 2016. This increase means that nearly 8 in 10 Canadians now live in or near urban areas. The three largest CMAs, (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver) collectively account for 5 per cent of Canada’s total population.

Slower growth for Pickering, Ajax, Uxbridge

The Toronto CMA alone accounted for 16.8 per cent of Canada’s population (6,202,225 persons). It is comprised of 24 census subdivisions (CSD)2 including Pickering, Ajax, and Uxbridge. The population growth for the Pickering, Ajax, and Uxbridge CSDs between 2016 and 2021 was 6 per cent, which indicates a slower growth rate than in the previous 5-year period between 2011 and 2016 (6.2 per cent).

The Oshawa CMA, including Whitby, Oshawa, and Clarington, ranked eighth in Ontario and 15th nationally, based on total population size (415,311 persons). The Oshawa CMA population increased 9.3 per cent between 2016 and 2021, representing a faster rate of growth than the previous 5-year period (6.6 per cent). The Townships of Brock and Scugog are not included within a designated CMA.

Durham Growth Trends

The Durham Region Census Division (CD) ranks fifth in Ontario and tenth nationally in total population compared to other regions, counties, and large cities. Toronto ranks first both in Ontario and nationally. The rankings for both Durham and Toronto did not change from the 2016 Census.

Durham’s population increased by 6.2 per cent (37,738 persons) between 2011-2016 and 7.3 per cent (51,130 persons) between 2016-2021.

Regional shares of GTHA growth is shown in Figures 2(a) and 2(b). Durham’s share increased significantly from 9.9 per cent in the 2011-2016 period to 15.6 per cent during the 2016- 2021 period.

Population Growth Rates

Durham, Halton, and Hamilton experienced an increase in their rate of population growth overall compared to the previous 5-year period, while Toronto, Peel, and York experienced a decrease.

Household Growth

While the population in Durham increased by 7.9 per cent from 2016 to 2021, the number of occupied private dwellings (i.e. households) only increased by 6.6 per cent, from 227,906 in 2016 to 243,048 in 2021, indicating that, for the first time since 1976, the region’s population has grown at a faster rate than the number of households.

Persons per Household

In previous years, the national trend of persons per household declining over time generally meant that more housing units have sheltered the same number of people. The 2021 Census data suggests that the average number of persons per household has increased for the first time since 1976 from 2.83 persons in 2016 to 2.87 persons in 2021.

Potential Impacts of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on population and demographic growth trends across the globe. The pandemic has also influenced growth patterns in the GHTA. For example, employers moving towards remote and virtual workspaces could potentially mean portions of the population are no longer required to live close to their place of work, and have moved outside of highly urbanized areas to places where housing could be more affordable.

These trends are observed in the GTHA, and demonstrated by the decline in growth rates in Toronto, York, and Peel, and subsequent increases in Durham, Halton, and Hamilton.

While local factors, such as a lack of vacant and/or developable land, could have an impact on declining growth rates, it is possible that the pandemic played a key role.

Another potential trend includes adult children staying at home longer, or moving back into their family homes due to remote work or school, resulting in a higher number of persons per household on average.

Future data releases of the 2021 Census and beyond will provide further insight into these shifts, the longevity of their impacts, and whether they represent long-term trends.

Area Municipal Growth Trends

All area municipalities in Durham experienced population growth between 2016-2021, except Scugog, which experienced a 0.2 per cent decline. Clarington experienced the highest rate of growth (10.2 per cent), followed by Oshawa (10 per cent), and Pickering (8.1 per cent).

The rate of population growth varies with each Census period, with some municipalities growing more rapidly. The growth rate in Brock increased significantly by 13.2 per cent over a 10-year period between 2011 and 2021, from -5.3 per cent in 2011 to +7.9 per cent in 2021. Other municipalities have also experienced an increased rate of growth in the last 10-year period, including Pickering (+7.1 per cent), Oshawa (+4.3 per cent), and Clarington (+1.6 per cent).

Oshawa continues to maintain the dominant share of Durham’s population with 25.2 per cent, an increase from 24.7 per cent in 2016. Clarington (14.6 per cent) and Pickering (14.2 per cent) also experienced an increase in population share, while Brock and Whitby maintained their share. All other municipalities decreased their share of Durham’s population distribution since 2016.

As previously noted, total households in Durham increased 6.6 per cent (15,142 households) between 2016 and 2021. Clarington experienced the largest increase in household growth with 9.5 per cent (3,115 households), followed by Pickering (8.1 per cent), Whitby (6.7 per cent), and Oshawa (6.5 per cent).

Oshawa maintained the largest share of household distribution among Durham’s area municipalities with 27.4 per cent in 2021, followed by Whitby (19.1 per cent), Ajax (16.3 per cent) and Clarington (14.8 per cent). Clarington, Pickering, and Whitby increased their share of households; while all other municipalities decreased their share.

The 2021 Census count of Durham’s households (243,048) is slightly below the 244,385 households estimated by the Planning and Economic Development Department in its December 2021 Monitoring of Growth Trends report (Commissioner’s Report 2021-INFO-132). Minor differences between the Census and the Monitoring of Growth Trends reporting may occur because of differences between the completion and occupancy of a dwelling, demolitions of existing dwellings, and the timing of the Census enumeration day.

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