Delineation of 2006 Urban Areas: Challenges and Achievements

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By Kelly Matier, Geography Division, Statistics Canada


An urban area has a minimum population concentration of 1,000 persons and a population density of at least 400 persons per square kilometre, based on the current census population count. All territory outside urban areas is classified as rural. Taken together, urban and rural areas cover all of Canada. For the 2001 Census, there were 913 urban areas. In 2006, the number of urban areas decreased to 895.

Following the release of urban areas for the 2001 Census, in-depth analysis revealed that the land area of many urban areas had increased substantially and the boundaries of these urban areas were considered to be over-bounded. In response, the boundaries of nearly half of the 2001 urban areas were updated to rectify this over-bounding, either manually or automatically. This paper describes the post-censal update process of 2001 urban areas and addresses the impact on the 2001 modified population counts adjusted to 2006 urban area boundaries.

The paper also briefly describes and compares the delineation criteria for urban areas from the 1996 and 2001 Censuses.

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