Halifax population changes, 2006 to 2011

A few years ago, I designed a few rudimentary Google maps of Halifax from StatCan data.  This was before I really knew anything about stats and data (n.b. I still don’t think I know much more than “some things” about stats and data), licenses, and how to properly interpret them. One map that I created showed Halifax’s population change, tract by tract, from 2001 to 2006. I’m giving myself embarrassment cringes by linking to it, but all the same: view it here.

StatCan has produced PDF images that show tract-by-tract population changes from 2006 to 2011 for all census metropolitan areas (CMAs), including HalifaxClick here to see Halifax’s population change table per tract.

Halifax Population Change from Census Year 2006 to 2011, Statistics Canada

Halifax Population Change from Census Year 2006 to 2011, Statistics Canada

Of note: the suburbs clearly rule the roost when it comes to Halifax’s population changes from 2006 to 2011. The only tract on the peninsula showing a significant increase (i.e., over 11.9%) is Tract 2050019.00, in the middle of the peninsula.  The increase in this tract is due, I’m certain, to the Gladstone redevelopment, the first major phases of which were completed – if memory serves me correct – in 2007 or 2008.

For what it’s worth, I’m not sure if I’m going to build a google map from 2011 census tract data. The work is time-consuming and there are other people in my field who have the expertise and software to do a much better job than I can. (And besides, my own hobby at the moment has more to do with plotting historic maps with Google Earth!) My work finding socio-economic data, making the odd remark here and there, and helping others make sense of it, is enough work – and fun – for one person.  🙂

Finally, here are a few outbound links to keep you interested:

Come to the Halifax Holly Holly!

This post is for all you Halifax Librarians out there. By now, you’ve probably got the e-mail, but I wanted to post it anyway.  This way, I can link to my favourite Christmas song below the fold, which is a decent track no matter where you live. –ms

Halifax’s Library and Information Science Holiday Social is back – Join your friends and colleagues for an evening of great food, door prizes, fun, and holiday cheer at our annual Holly Jolly!

Even Santa's elves need a break from cataloguing the toys.

The Holly Jolly costs only $10, or $8 for students. We’ll be taking over Argyle Fine Art at its new Barrington Street location on Thursday December 8, from 6pm to 9pm. There are many door prizes to give away, and once again we’ll have excellent catering from Certainly Cinnamon. In the spirit of the season, we ask that Holly Jolly’ers bring a non-perishable food item(s) to support the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.

Please RSVP to hollyjollysocial@gmail.com by December 5, 2011

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00 pm
Location: Argyle Fine Art, 1559 Barrington Street, Halifax, Suite 102
Price: $10.00 ($8.00 for students)

The Holly Jolly is brought to you by the Halifax Library Association with the support of NSALT, APLA, other and library associations in Nova Scotia.

#CLA2011 Google Map

Are you coming to #CLA2011 (or #CLA11) in Halifax, Nova Scotia?   Then this Google Map may come in handy.   I created a Google Map to help a few librarian-friends from across Canada decide on some things to do in Halifax and then decided to share it with the world.       Enjoy, contribute, and share and share alike.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=212945797480833306418.0004a3f3e43b855ee05f9&ll=44.644689,-63.571229&spn=0.010687,0.025749&z=15&output=embed&w=600&h=350]

And since you’re coming to CLA 2011, make sure you visit and say Hi! during Saturday morning’s Technology Lightning Strikes! panel at 8:30 (Session G49).  I’m going to be speaking with a bunch of excellent librarians (read: absolute tech superstars who know so much more than me!) about emerging technology trends and how to integrate them into your everyday work with little fuss and hardly any muss.   I’ll post more details on this in a later post.

At any rate, come say Hi, or tweet me on Twitter – I like meeting people and showing them about this town – Halifax is a great town to visit.


PodCamp Halifax 2011 slides: Leveraging YouTube

This post is for the benefit of all the Halifax Podcamp 2011 attendees as well as for the rest of the Interweb – the slides from my presentation, Leveraging YouTube: informing and educating with screencasts.

[slideshare id=6677109&doc=podcamp-110123192506-phpapp01]

Click here for the link to the actual Slideshare page.  And click here for the link to the Scribd page, which offers the same content on a different platform.

On Monday or Tuesday, I’ll write up a few notes from the presentation.  There were a number of things I didn’t have the chance to hit on, including measuring use (and not letting the numbers get to you) as well as the strong user communities for the different types of software.  If there is one piece of advice to hand out though, it is to keep it simple, always.  Be brief, be on message, and state only one message at a time in all of your screencasts.  Your users will often be looking for information to solve a problem now, so give them what they’re looking for.

Screencasting software links:

Here are links to the Dal Libraries tutorials:

  • Our index – over 100 online learning objects.  Note: some are five or six years old now and show their age
  • Vimeo – I’ve uploaded a “best of” collection to Vimeo.

Finally, here are two of my older posts on screencasting, which have proved to be quite popular:



Post Script:  In case you’re looking for the actual Podcamp Halifax website, you can click here for:

Come to PodCamp Halifax 2011!

Do you want to know what you’re going to be doing on January 23, 2011?  It’s quite simple, really.  You’re going to attend Podcamp Halifax 2011.  And you’re going to have a blast.

Why are you going to have a blast?  It’s quite simple, really.  When you come to Podcamp, you’ll find like-minded social media fans, professionals, and purveyors, and they’re going to be from all walks of life.  This means it’s going to be as easy as pie to talk up one of your favourite subjects and find some different perspectives and new ideas.  And you’ll likely meet some new friends along the way.

What sort of sessions should you attend at PodCamp 2011?  It’s up to you, really.  You could sit in on a session on the ROI of social media or you could take part on a talk augmented reality as the new social network.  Or, even more fun, you could come to my session, called Making movies makes them S-M-R-T: Screencasting, education (and PR?). In this session I’m going to show how screencasting at Dalhousie Libraries has evolved from static online lectures to videos that introduce real-life librarians to users and then nurture relationships that will last through their time at university.

So come to Podcamp!  Sit in on some sessions, or give one of your own!  Space is still available, and it’s all free, thanks to some great local sponsors.

Nova Scotia NDP Spelling FAIL

When I’m not working in the library, I’m following local politics and cringing at bad copy.   Here’s something that landed in my inbox late Friday night (click to enlarge):

NOVA SCOTIA NDP : "Anti-idoling bill will ensure the province leads by example in reducing emissions"

Note the subject line for this e-mail:

Anti-idoling bill will ensure the province leads by example in reducing emissions


This is a complete and utter homonym-FAIL on the part of my current government (who I otherwise appreciate).   It’s also a great example of why you shouldn’t send out PR at the end of a long week.

n.b.  I’m not so much of a grammar nerd that I care to distinguish between homonyms and homophones.  The gov’t still screwed up on this one.


Update:  Out of fairness, I present to you the Official Opposition’s refusal to use apostrophes in their headlines:

Headline: Nova Scotia Liberals demand to eliminate the apostrophe from official House Business

Note the headline for this news release:



Three gold stars to the reader who can submit recent bad copy from the Nova Scotia Tories…

Halifax Public Libraries : Building Communities

Last Thursday (10 June 2010), I had the pleasure of attending the first of five planning sessions for a new central library in Halifax.  Downtown Halifax has required a new library quite a few years.  Why is this?  The Spring Garden branch holds the system’s

  • government documents (it’s a depository library)
  • main business outreach unit
  • main reference unit

But the 50 year-old building fails horribly when it comes to:

  • Accessibility (stairs everywhere! few elevators!)
  • Community meeting space (1, maybe 2 rooms?)
  • Children and YA Services – wedged into the basement level (The branch does wonders down there, but a better space is needed)

The good news is that Halifax Public Libraries has already secured the land and funding for a new downtown branch, and it has already contracted the services of two architectural firms to build a new library just across the road from the current site.  The great news is that HPL and the architects have committed themselves to real civic engagement through the entire design process that will culminate in a proposed design in November 2010.

Photo Courtesy of HPL

The Library and Community Involvement

Thursday’s meeting shows us that community involvement is HPL’s priority in the process.  Rather than hogging a microphone and telling the public what they’d like to do with this potential space, librarians and architects turned the session over to the assembled group and asked them to answer conceptual questions like “What can the Library do for you and what can you do for the library?”.   Each time a new question was raised, attendees were asked to move to a different table in order to discuss things with a new group of people.  This process organically developed themes from the ground up since the public brainstormed on their own accord about what a new library needs and what a city needs in a library.  In the end, the public was able to tell the architects, designers, and librarians what was important to them and what the new building will require to meet their vision.

HPL rejected a top-down approach to surveying community needs and all parties came away better because of it.  Although a top-down approach likely would have determined similar themes such as accessibility, sustainability, community space and learning centers, the actual process used on Thursday night reminded the community that they are the library system’s primary stakeholders.  Giving the floor over to the public (I’m part of the public on this one) showed us that our input is not just desired but is formally required before the architects can go forward.  It reminded us that if libraries are the civic centers that nurture the growth of communities through collections, services, and programming (and they are), then it is imperative that the community take a lead role in the design process.  Halifax Public Libraries isn’t just paying lip service to community engagement on this path toward a new central library.  Rather, they’re determined to have the community involved in every step along the way.

Photo courtesy of Halifax Public Libraries

Real civic engagement

Speaking as a member of the public on this issue, the meeting reminded me that community action and awareness is a real thing at the library.  It’s real easy for people to think about municipal government as nothing more than the organization that clears roads in the winter and maintains parks in the summer.  The library, however, is an arm of the municipality, and it’s the part of the municipality that’s in the trenches working with people and for people every day to make their lives better.  What we saw at the HPL Planning meeting last Thursday was real evidence of Halifax community building by, with, and for the community itself.


Halifax Maps: 2005 Median Income, Married-Couple Families

This week’s map shows us 2005 median incomes for married-couple families in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Don’t let that long topic get to you: although Statistics Canada can sometimes get a little difficult with their language, it’s not too hard to decipher:

2005 median income – This is not the average income for the tract but the income that separates the top half of reported incomes from the lower half of incomes in the area.  This is a commonly used value when considering income because it prevents incredibly high and incredibly low incomes from affecting a stated average.

married-couple families – StatCan records income for different family types.  There are lone-parent families, of which “female-lone parent” and “male-lone parent” are subsets.  StatCan also lists dual-parent families (my term).  In these are two distinct kinds: married-couple families and common-law families. However, Statistics Canada does not combine these values for us into one field as they do with lone-parent families, so we must consider them individually.


[Click here for a full-window map.]

Two interesting patterns emerge on this map.  The first pattern is the manner in which lower median incomes become prevalent as one moves west to east.  The further into old Halifax County one drives, the lower the median income will be.  Presumably, lower rural-based incomes and dual-parent families who hold only one reported income between them account for this.  Note, however, that in rural western Halifax county, we nonetheless find higher incomes: the incomes over extreme western Halifax are nearly double the incomes in extreme eastern Halifax.

The second pattern is the high incomes to be found on Halifax Peninsula and along the Bedford Basin.  These incomes should be expected, given the socio-economic patterns we see in these areas (e.g.: highly educated, fully employed households). What is of interest, though, is the proximity of Halifax’s highest median income to its lowest:

Highest income for married couples in Halifax:

  • Tract 2050005.00 (which I’ve called South End-Gorsebrook), lying on the peninsula’s shores:  $194,622

Lowest income for married couples in Halifax:

These tracts, nearly side-by-side one another on the Halifax Peninsula, house two distinct populations that are tied at the hip – the student underclass studying and working at the post-secondary schools and hospitals that dot the south end, and the professional class that is employed by these institutions.  I’m painting with broad strokes here, of course, but it does serve as a little bit of context to explain how these two different income levels lie within only two or three kilometres of one another.


Halifax Marital Status by Census Tract, 2006

Today’s map is a Valentine’s Day treat for all the single ladies and men in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  By manipulating  2006 Census data at the tract level, I’ve plotted maps that show the marital status of all the men and women in Halifax.(*)

1.  Women who are not in a married relationship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2006 Census:

Women not in a married relationship in Halifax, 2006 Census

2.  Men who are not in a married relationship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2006 Census:

Men not in a married relatonship in Halifax, 2006 Census

(*) Careful attention must be given to meaning of these values.  These maps represent the marital status of all people living in a tract, over the age of 15 – a question that was asked on the 2006 Census.  When a person was asked this question, they could respond by stating that they were:

  • Never legally married (single)
  • Legally married (and not separated)
  • Legally married (but separated)
  • Divorced
  • Widowed

For the purposes of these maps, I have considered anyone who answered “Never legally married (single)”, “Legally married (but separated)”, “Divorced”, or “Widowed” to be your potential special some one who you might meet by accident walking down Spring Garden Road on a sunny, Sunday afternoon.

Note, however, that this census question does not take into account people who are living in a common-law relationship.  StatCan was concerned with marital status as opposed to “relationship status” when asking this question.  The number of common-law relationships in a tract therefore muddles the values because some one who is “never been married (single)” or “divorced,” for instance, may actually be living with some one in a common-law relationship.  In the future I’ll manipulate the numbers to account for this, so for now understand that these maps, strictly speaking, reflect marital status in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Summary Data:

Population of Halifax, aged 15 or above: 312,650

  • Males, 15+: 148,390
    • Males 15+, not in a marital relationship: 74,490 (50.2%)
  • Females, 15+ 164,260
    • Females, 15+,  not in a marital relationship: 90,350 (55.0%)

Please feel free to comment on the maps or to note any errors to be corrected.  In the mean time, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Citations and disclaimers.

These maps were published with data gathered from Statistics Canada 2006 Census Tracts as well as from aggregated data retrieved from the Equinox data delivery system (Tables 97-552-XCB2006005 and 97-552-XCB2006006).  This data was used strictly for scholarly research purposes and in no way in the pursuit of any commercial or income-generating venture.

Halifax Unemployment Data, 2006 Census

This weekend I projected unemployment data from the 2006 Census onto a map of Halifax.  I won’t say much about this topic because its subject matter lies well beyond my area of expertise; although I’m willing to make broad assumptions about population growth, I don’t want to speak too much about employment numbers lest some one quotes me on it.  (I see you in my site statistics, all you high school and jr. high kids logging in from ednet.ns.ca addresses – remember to click to the census data and cite them for your projects!)

Halifax unemployment data, 2006 census

First, some observations on the projection.  The unemployment figures for Halifax’s 88 Census Tracts ranged from 2.1% in Fairview (Tract 205.0017.00, south of Hwy 102 and north of the St. Margaret’s Bay Road) to 12.8% in Shannon Park (Tract 205.0112.00, south of the MacKay Bridge at Windmill Road), with the city’s average unemployment rate at 6.3%. This is a 10.7% spread, which I’ve separated into 5 fields with a 3% spread in each.  By showing 5 different unemployment rate groups, this spread gives a sharp level of detail, but on the other hand it creates a patchwork-quilt of colors with few discernible patterns.  Projecting data requires balancing data against visuals – if the data is not represented properly, then patterns may not emerge, or the patterns that do emerge may be misleading altogether.  Be sure, therefore, to click through to the original data files for each tract (links are provided on the tract’s data boxes).

[flexiblemap src=”http://michael.steeleworthy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/20100208_Halifax_Unemployment_Data_2006_Census.kml” width=”700″ height=”400″]

And now, some observations on this map against others.  Thus far I’ve noted how Timberlea and the Sackvilles tend to stand out on census maps.  Both areas saw a significant decrease in population from 2001 to 2006, and my recent population density map shows that both areas are denser than their surrounding (more-)rural neighbours thanks to the network of highways spidering out from the peninsula.  What today’s map highlights is that both areas’ population decreases are mirrored by higher unemployment rates.  The areas may have a denser population than their surrounding census tracts, but people seem to be leaving (possibly to find work elsewhere?).

Base figures:

Population of Halifax in 2006: 372858
Labour force [persons ages 15+]: 309270
Unemployed persons in labour force: 13385
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%

Population of Nova Scotia in 2006: 913462
Labour force [persons ages 15+]: 756595
Unemployed persons in labour force: 43530
Unemployment Rate: 9.1%