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Thunder Bay's population experiencing low growth

Thunder Bay's census metropolitan area population has grown by 25 people over past five years, but city's population has dropped 0.4 per cent.
Thunder Bay street
Waverley Street in Thunder Bay.

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay’s population grew between 2011 and 2016, but not by much.

According to census data released on Wednesday by Statistics Canada, the city and surrounding communities grew by just 25 people over five years

Thunder Bay’s census metropolitan area population now stands at 121,621, slightly more than the 121,596 posted in 2011.

However, the city itself experienced a slight drop in population, from 108,359 five years ago to 107,909, a decrease of 0.4 per cent.

"I think it underscores the challenge that all northern, rural, smaller communities right across Canada (and) right across North America continue to have," said Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro. "There is a level of large-scale urbanization that is taking place in our large centres -- Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and the like. 

"Communities like ours and hundreds of others are continually faced with work and an effort to try to grow and sustain their population. It's not easy to do."

Mauro said the key to turning things around is economic diversification and embracing a knowledge-based economy, while protecting resource-based jobs as best as possible.

"I think that's the goal, I think that's the best way for us to see increases in our population and we've actually had some successes in that regard."

Regionally, Terrace Bay experienced tremendous population growth over the past five years, jumping by 10.5 per cent to 2,798 residents last year when the census was taken. Nearby Schreiber, however, fell by six per cent to 1,059, down from 1,126.

The national average growth was five per cent, representing about 1.7 million people. The country’s population was 33,476,688 in 2011 and is now 35,151,728.

Sylvan Lake, Alta experienced the highest growth level between census periods, increasing in size by 19.6 per cent. Among communities with more than 100,000 residents, Calgary was the fastest growing, jumping 14.6 per cent to 1,214,839.

Campbellton, N.B. was the lowest performing CMA in the country, seeing its population drop by 9.3 per cent.

Northwestern Ontario Population 2011-2016
Community 2016 2011 +/-
Dryden 7,749 7.617 1.7%
Greenstone 4,636 4,724 -1.9%
Kenora 15,096 15,348 -1.6%
Marathon 3,273 3,353 -2.4%
Neebing 2,055 1,986 3.5%
Oliver Paipoonge 5,922 5,732 3.3%
Sault Ste. Marie 73,368 75,141 .2.4%
Schreiber 1,059 1,116 -6.0%
Shuniah 2,798 2,737 2.2%
Terrace Bay 1,611 1,471 10.5%
Thunder Bay 107,409 108,359 -0.4%
Thunder Bay (unorganized) 5,872 5,909 -0.6%
Timmins 41,788 43,165 -3.2%


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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