In addition to its 33 census metropolitan areas, urban Canada has 111 mid-size urban centres (census agglomerations - see box), regions that have an urban core with a population of more than 10,000 but are not CMAs.
A mid-size urban centre, or census agglomeration (CA), is an urban area that has an urban core with a population of at least 10,000, but is not a census metropolitan area (CMA). Canada now has 111 CAs, down from 113 in 2001. Six CAs have become CMAs since 2001: Barrie, Guelph, Brantford and Peterborough (Ontario), Moncton (New Brunswick) and Kelowna (British Columbia). Seven new CAs were established: Bay Roberts (Newfoundland and Labrador), Canmore (Alberta), Centre Wellington and Ingersoll (Ontario), Miramichi (New Brunswick), Okotoks (Alberta) and Salmon Arm (British Columbia). Two 2001 CAs were no longer CAs in 2006: Gander and Labrador City (Newfoundland and Labrador). Also, Magog (Quebec) is now part of the Sherbrooke CMA.
In the 2006 Census, some 4.1 million people were living in these mid-size urban centres, compared with 3.9 million five years earlier. This amounts to a growth rate of 4.0% over five years, which is below the national average (+5.4%) and less than half the average for all CMAs (+6.9%).
Table 6 Mid-size urban centres with the fastest population growth since 2001
Eight mid-size urban centres had a growth rate of more than 10%, twice the rate for Canada as a whole. Seven of them were in Alberta: Okotoks, Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Lloydminster, Canmore and Medicine Hat. The top four had rates of growth twice to four times the Alberta provincial rate. A flourishing job market and rising incomes in Alberta continued to attract many workers, increasing the province's population and, therefore, the population of its regions, at a pace unmatched anywhere else in Canada.
Of the other mid-size urban centres on the list of the 25 fastest-growing CAs since 2001, 12 are located less than 100 kilometres from the boundaries of the Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver CMAs. Six are in British Columbia (Chilliwack, Fort St. John, Parksville, Courtenay, Nanaimo and Vernon), five are in Ontario (Collingwood, Kawartha Lakes, Centre Wellington, Ingersoll and Woodstock) and four are in Quebec (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Joliette, Granby and Drummondville).
Table 7 Mid-size urban centres with the fastest population decline since 2001
Most mid-size urban centres whose population declined since 2001 are located in areas whose economy depends partly or completely on the exploitation of natural resources, especially forests. For example, the CAs with the fastest-declining populations are all in northern British Columbia (Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, Terrace and Williams Lake), in a region dependent on the forestry industry.