The last time Canada Census numbers were released following the 2016 count, Selkirk’s population broke the 10,000-person barrier, a number the city hadn’t surpassed in decades.
The results of the 2021 census were released today, starting with population and dwellings, and the city has taken another step forward on its goal of intentional and targeted growth. Selkirk’s population as of May 2021 was 10,504, up from 10,278.
Third consecutive year of grown intentional and well planned out
The increase represents a jump of 2.2 and marks the third consecutive census Selkirk has grown.
Mayor Larry Johannson said continued growth is due to the city’s efforts to make Selkirk the place people want to live.
“We know growth is occurring and we know why it’s occurring, and it’s nice to see the number keep moving up,” Johannson said.
“We know people are moving here and it’s because of the improvements we’ve made in all areas of the city. We’re known as a leader in environmental issues, we’ve got new business coming here, we’ve got fantastic outdoor spaces and active transportation connectivity that’s expanding all the time. And people want to live where they have a good life, and they can feel good about the choices their city is making.”
Selkirk Chief Administrative Officer Duane Nicol was also pleased with the growth.
“As a lifelong Selkirkian, I’m thrilled that more people are calling Selkirk home than ever before. The growth that the City of Selkirk is experiencing is well planned and well thought out,” Nicol said.
“We’ve followed smart growth principles, we focused on in-fill development and increasing density where it made sense, so we weren’t having to add a ton of new infrastructure, rather, we made better use of our existing infrastructure.”
Happy with recorded growth but curious about potential underrepresentation
The CAO said that despite the increase in population, he’s surprised it isn’t greater based on the city’s own internal tracking and the statistics of other organizations.
Nicol said the city is taking a look at this and reaching out to Stats Canada about the potential underrepresentation as this will result in lower funding from the provincial and federal governments over the next five years.
“I know that gathering statistics during a pandemic is difficult and it eliminated the ability to do door-to-door canvasing,” Nicol said.
“We were also aware during the census period that parts of new developments and apartment buildings in Selkirk may have been missed, and that could have played a role in a lower number for the city. We received complaints that we did forward to Statistics Canada. In spite of this, I’m happy with three consecutive census periods of growth.”
The city’s population had been trending downward since 1981 but the growth Selkirk has been experiencing in the last decade is by design. The city’s Strategic Plan – a document that lays out priorities in five key areas – makes sustainable infrastructure and encouraging responsible land-use priorities and calls for clear intentions for future development.
Green industrial grown to ensure upward trajectory
Nicol said the city is attracting green industry – Charbone Corporation’s green hydrogen production facility and CPS’s solar glass manufacturing plant are both coming to Selkirk – and the industrial growth will ensure the upward trajectory of the city’s population continues.
And Selkirk will be ready.
“We’re not growing just for the sake of growing, but growing towards economic, social and environmental sustainability,” Nicol said.
“We continue to make strategic investments into core infrastructure to ensure we have the capacity to service a growing and thriving community. We’re not chasing development, but encouraging the kinds of development that make us more sustainable in the long run, like infill, multi-family and mixed use in the downtown.”
Selkirk is a hub that services the growing communities around it.
“We play a critical role in the region,” Nicol said.
“The people who live in surrounding municipalities, and even beyond, come here for their health care, for shopping and for recreation. The city is a service provider for a far higher number than the census reveals.”
Provincial funding determined by Census
Federal government transfer payments are based on population numbers garnered from the national census. Many municipal grants are also based on population. For every Manitoban missed on the census, the Province of Manitoba loses about $46,000 in federal funding.
More information from the 2021 Canada Census will be released in the coming months and will shed even more light on the city’s new citizens and why they chose to move here.