Halifax population growth, 2001 to 2006

Today’s map improves on last week’s iteration, which only plotted population figures per census tract in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  This week, I’ve traced population growth for each census tract in Halifax Regional Municipality using freely available data from the 2001 and 2006 Statistics Canada censuses.

A census tract (CT) is a a compact, populated area.  It should have clearly defined boundaries, a population that is fairly homogeneous from a socio-economic standpoint, with roughly 2500 to 8000 (but ideally about 4000) people living in it (source).


This map reveals interesting trends in Halifax population patterns. For the most part, peninsular Halifax and old Dartmouth have stagnant or declining populations, while the suburbs (especially in western HRM) show strong population growth.  Rural areas such as old Halifax County and the Chebucto Peninsula have roughly remained stagnant.  Some CTs, however, have rates of decline or growth that differ in large degree from their neighbouring CTs, including:

  • 2500008.00 . Located on Halifax Peninsula, this 16.5% spike in growth may be caused by the cumulative effect of condominium developments such as the Bishop’s Landing development on the waterfront.
  • 2500131.02 and surrounding areas. Lower Sackville showed a localized and sharp population decline, with rates ranging from 5-7%.
  • 2050025.02 . Clayton Park, despite being so close to peninsular Halifax, showed a 11.5% decline in population.

It will be interesting to see how the proposed development of the land east of Bayers Lake, which is divided between 2500025.03 and 2500024.00 will affect population rates in this area.  Perhaps the development (which likely won’t be ready in time for the 2011 census) will improve growth figures for CT 2050024.00 in the future.

Producing this map reinforces the reasons why census tracts should all have a uniform size.  Halifax Regional Municipality covers a large amount of urban, suburban, and rural land, and its census tracts’ population figures range from under 1000 to over 6000.  This spread makes it difficult to measure one CT’s population growth or decline against another CT’s own rate.  For instance the population of 205113.00, off of Windmill Road in Dartmouth, declined by 185 people in 2006, a difference of -20.6%.  Meanwhile, the population of 2050004.02, in old Halifax’s south end, declined by 158 people in 2005, a difference of -3.6%.  Since populations can vary quite a bit from one census tract to another, be sure to check the actual population figures of surrounding census tracts when comparing one colour code to another.

Population of Halifax in 2001: 359183

Population of Halifax in 2006: 372858

Difference: 3.8%

Halifax maps – 2006 population per census tract

Given the fact that I am working with data from the 2006 Census Tracts, I decided it would be important to begin by plotting a map that shows the population of Halifax Regional Municipality per census tract (CT).


What’s important to understand when looking at this map is that these are representations of just whole numbers – we’re not looking at a population rate of decline or density.  StatCan’s census tracts, rather, are developed by a set of guidelines that take in account more than only population rates.  Boundaries should follow easily recognizably physical boundaries or major arteries and have populations between 2500 and 8000 (ideally around 4000); the areas must be as compact as possible; and the populations should ideally be homogeneous in terms of socio-economic conditions (source).  Therefore, CTs with lower populations on Halifax Peninsula are more likely indicative of latent socio-economic factors that promote lower densities that any sort of StatCan motive to consider these tracts as demanding special attention.

My next map, I think, will demonstrate density or growth rates.  There was upwards of an 11% population growth rate in the Clayton Park area between 2001 and 2006, but the area’s surround census tracts didn’t see nearly as large an increase – that might be interesting to demonstrate on a map.

Finally, if there is a lesson to be learned on the production of this map, it’s to avoid using a blue gradient for HRM since it blends so easily with the shoreline and ocean.  My next colours will be bolder, for sure.

Introducing a Halifax Google Map

(03 Jan 2010: Updates – Added links to the CT data files.)

I have something to share…


You’re looking at a colorful map of Halifax Regional Municipality.  Using information gathered from the 2006 Census, I’ve plotted the 2006 Census Tracts onto a map of Halifax using Google Earth and Google Maps so that data can be analyzed visually in the future. Aside from the colors and boundaries, there is no data attached to this particular map; this is a New Year’s project of sorts, so I hope to produce one rendered map of the city, region, or province per week.

I’ve been toying with the idea for this map for some time.  I originally began to mark up a map of Nova Scotia’s provincial constituencies last spring, but that project gave way to other concerns (i.e. the great outdoors) and I’ve since put it on the backburner since there is a new government on Hollis St.  Instead, I’ve produced a map this is closer to my professional interests.  I work regularly with socio-economic data from Statistics Canada and I’m familiar with its 2006 Census tools as well as with CANSIM and E-Stat; mashing up the data I use on a regular basis is a visual extension of my own research.

This page has been influenced from many other sites that deploy Google Earth and ArcGIS data on the internet – The Toronto Star’s Map of the Week, and the CBC‘s and the Globe and Mail‘s 2008 election coverage come to mind.  If you like what you see here, then consider checking out those sites as well.

For what it’s worth, the data used to produce this particular map is available on the Internet but is held through Crown Copyright by Statistics Canada.  I’m producing it anyway, though, since our fair dealing provisions allow for research and scholarship, which this is intended to be.  (i.e. Copyright Act and CCH are on my side, more or less.)

Repurposing the Halifax Library Association?

This week I sat in on my first Halifax Library Association board meeting.  I’m its new treasurer, and while I have very little experience in the treasury (aside from a failed experiment in a B.Acc programme – i left that due to sheer boredom), I’m a glutton for titles and letters and acronyms.  So, I was more that happy to sign on and take part.  My first official act will be to finally pay my membership dues; my second act will be to hound you to pay your own.

As a group, we sat down and hashed out some ideas to improve membership and programming in the coming year.  Although nothing is “shovel-ready” just yet, I think we have some exciting things in store for the fall.  Right now, we’re planning on a “library pub crawl” in September to attract some of the MLIS students at Dal’s School of Information Management.  I’d like to find a way to get the NSCC programme as involved in this as Dal’s MLIS programme, so we’ll see if anything can pan out there, as well.  At any rate, this will all be followed by some extensive evening tours for the entire membership, which will hopefully always finish at a local pub.

One thing that we did discuss at length was the idea of having regular, informal gatherings for the membership to socialize and to discuss whatever the night’s topic might be.  It may be a fund-raising event, or it may not, but either way, it would be a chance for the locals to get together and catch up on their lives and on things going on in the workplace.  The member who mentioned this idea was invoking the HLA’s tradition of holding regular networking meetings before it was called networking by having regular get-togethers in someone’s home, sort of like a “brown bag lunch, except with drinks”.  There is some merit in this: since the larger regional and national library associations have cornered the market on formal professional development, it may be a good idea for the HLA to stick to what it does best – getting like-minded people together.

I have to say that I think the informal-gathering concept is very appealing.  The fact is that the HLA had been doing this for years, and it is known for its roots in social networking.  And given the popularity of unconferences and Camps nowadays, a regular librarians’ meet-up might work quite well.  I’m drawing some of my inspiration for this from the wild success of Halifax’s Third Wednesdays meetup for anyone in the community who is interested in tech, the internet, people and social media.  The 3W meetup started small, but through word-of-mouth promotions has turned into a monthly event that packs a local pub full of professionals who are there to talk and listen and share a pint and talk some more.  Given the sheer amount of libraries in town and the fact that peninsular Halifax does have a bit of a knowledge economy to back up its ship-building, government and military sectors, I think we could organize a similar ongoing event for the local librarian/information professional community.

What this would take is commitment to the cause and an understanding that the event remains informal and social.  This is something that would be about communicating and building relationships..   At any rate, we’ll see how it all pans out – there’s always more to follow.