Statistics Canada has introduced some new nomenclature to the world of Canadian population data. This is important to those tracking changes in where people are moving and choosing to live and for the analysis of all sorts of issues like access to care and equity in services across the rural-urban continuum. From now on small towns and villages as small as 1,000 will no longer be grouped together with places like Ottawa or Toronto and be classified only as “urban areas”.
Places with more than a 1000 people and a density of more than 400 people per sq. kilometre will now be identified collectively as “population centres” these will be sub-divided into three groups as:
Ø small population centres being those between 1,000 and 30,000 people;
Ø medium population centres being those between 30,000 and 100,000 people; and,
Ø large population centres being anything over 100,000.
“Rural areas” in the Statistics Canada meaning remains all territory not meeting the two tests of greater than 1,000 people and with a density of at least 400 people per sq. kilometre.
Further explanation can be found here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/standard-norme/sgc-cgt/urban-urbain-eng.htm
This move is welcome and should help with better interpretation of statistics the agency provides. (This won’t really help in any way with the misguided government shift to do away with the mandatory long form census that occurred this past summer, despite widespread appeals to rethink the matter. That is still going to be a problem for people seeking to understand rural realities.)
As far as the Rural Ontario Institute is concerned we certainly regard rural Ontario as more than just the territory being farmed or sparsely populated northern geography – small population centres are certainly part of what we see as rural. When we look around rural Ontario we view a rich fabric of small towns and communities interwoven with the countryside and surrounding forests, we see the interdependence of our social, economic and environmental systems and the many mutually beneficial relationships between country and city. We understand the need for categories but have the perspective that people don’t divide their lives so neatly and many rural folk, the goods we produce and use, as well as the energy, air and water we rely on cross back and forth across those boundaries every day.
Norman Ragetlie, Director, Policy & Stakeholder Engagement