Niagara's Demographics for Housing Needs

The characteristics of a population help determine its current and future housing needs. This section provides demographic data for Niagara, including its population size and distribution, and household types.

Building on this basic data, information is also provided about features of our community to better illustrate the people who live here, income information is provided as well, as income is a strong indicator of health and wellbeing.

Niagara's Changing Population

1.1 Niagara Population Projection, 2006-2031

Niagara Population Projection 2006-2031

Source: Niagara Region Planning and Development 2014

In 2011, the population of Niagara Region was 431,345, an increase of 3,924 from the 2006 census. Over the next 20 years Niagara's population is expected to increase by roughly 40,800 people or 9.3 per cent. This is significantly lower than the population growth in Ontario as a whole which will see a 25 per cent increase over the next 20 years (Ministry of Finance, Projected Population for Ontario 2011-2036).

1.2 Percentage of Population Increase in Niagara and Ontario, 2001-2031

Percentage of Population Increase in Niagara and Ontario 2001-2031

Source: Niagara Region Planning and Development 2014; Ministry of Finance, Projected Population for Ontario 2011-2031

1.3 Niagara Population by Age Group, 2011 - 2031

Niagara Population by Age Group 2011-2031

Source: Niagara Region Age-Specific Population Forecasts by Area Municipality (Last Updated 2013)

The population projection above comes from the report "Niagara Region Age-Specific Population Forecasts by Area Municipality" commission by Niagara Region to look at how the age of the population will be changing in the future. The population projection figures have been adjusted to account for the Census undercount, the number of people that are estimated to be missed by the census, which is approximately 4 per cent.

Between 2011 and 2031 seniors 65 years and older will account for 60 per cent of the population growth in Niagara. At the same time the population between 0 and 25 years of age will only account for 7 per cent of the overall population growth. The increase in seniors population is the result of an aging baby boomer population and the in migration of individuals 55+ from the surrounding regions as they make the decision to retire in Niagara (The Regional Municipality of Niagara: Growth Management Strategy). As a result Niagara must be prepared to meet the needs of an ageing population, which will likely include housing that meets accessibility needs and the supports required to age in place.

1.4 Niagara Population Projection by Municipality, 2011 - 2031

Niagara Population Projection by Municipality 2011-2031

Source: Niagara Region, Planning and Development 2014

While on average the population in Niagara will increase by 9.3 per cent over the next 20 years the increases will not be felt equally across the region. The population in St. Catharines is expected to grow the least with a 0.3 per cent increase between 2011 and 2031, while the population of Thorold is expected to increase by 26 per cent. The smaller municipalities will see the greatest proportion of growth in the region. The location of services and affordable housing in the future will need to take this trend into account to address community needs.

1.5 Rural and Urban Population

Niagara Population Projection by Municipality 2011-2031

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 Census Custom Order

Niagara is predominantly an urban population, however, the rural population is a significant part of our community. As a result of geography and lower population density rural communities often have limited access to social services, transportation and health care. Housing availability in terms of being able to access a range of types, price/rent levels, and tenures, is also limited, making it a challenge to ensure housing in these communities matches current and future housing needs.

Map Two: Population Density in Niagara Region

Population Density Map

Target Populations

The province requires the final Housing and Homelessness Action Plan to include specific consideration for specific groups within the community in order to ensure the plan is reflective of their unique housing needs. In addition several local target populations have also been identified as priorities. These groups include:

Provincially required populations

  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Persons with disabilities

Local target populations

  • Seniors
  • Youth
  • Aboriginal Peoples living off reserve
  • Franco-Ontarians
  • New comers

Specific data will be collected on these groups in order to develop a better understanding of their needs and will be included in future updates of the technical report.

Niagara Households

According to Statistics Canada in 2011 there were 174,685 households in Niagara Region. Of these, 131,925 are owner and 42,760 are renter households. Households are defined as a person or group of people who occupy the same dwelling. This includes families, roommates or individuals living alone.

1.6 Population (Individuals) in Comparison with Number of Renter and Owner Households in Niagara vs. Other Census Divisions/Metropolitan Areas, 2011

Population (individuals) in comparison with number of renter and owner households in Niagara, 1991- 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 Census and 2011 National Household Survey

As of 2011 there were 42,760 renter households in Niagara representing 25 per cent of all households. This is the lowest percentage of renter households compared to other municipalities with a similar population size including: Hamilton (32 per cent), London (34 per cent), Waterloo (29 per cent), and Windsor (26 per cent). Conversely, compared to those four regions/municipalities, Niagara had the highest percentage of owner households. In part, this may be due to:

  • Lower costs for ownership housing in Niagara
  • Economic conditions which have delayed entry into the rental market by youth and young adults

The supply of completed and unabsorbed new construction in early 2014 also influenced the market and resulted in a slight drop in new home prices that may have enabled more households to enter homeownership

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Housing Market Outlook - St. Catharines-Niagara census metropolitan area - Date Released: Spring 2014

1.7 Household Type by Tenure, 2006

Household type by Tenure

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey

Tenure refers to the form of possession over a piece of property, in housing units are typically either rented or owned. The type of tenure a household chooses may be based on several factors such as life style and income.

Couples with children, without children and "other" family households (refers to households with additional persons and to multiple-census family households) are largely home owners. This reflects that these households tend to have higher incomes as can be seen in chart 1.8 below, and for couples with children, the need for larger housing types than what is typically available in the rental market.

Lone parent families and individuals typically rent their homes. This is largely related to the lower incomes of lone parent families which may put home ownership outside of reach. For example, a study by the Brock Observatory noted that two-parent families in Niagara have the lowest poverty rates while recent immigrants, persons with disabilities and single mothers have the highest poverty rates. For individuals, the choice to rent may be related to income levels (individuals also have high rates of poverty in Niagara), lifestyles/housing needs, or both.

Non-census family households - refers to households consisting of a single person or two or more individuals living in the same dwelling, but do not constitute a census family such as a group of students sharing a rental.

Household Income

1.8 Median Income in Niagara and Ontario, 2012

Median Income in Niagara and Ontario

Source: Statistics Canada, 2012 Canada Revenue Agency Tax Filer Data

Across all household types the median income is lower in Niagara ($68,410) than the provincial median ($74,890). Persons in non-census families (such as one-person households) in Niagara have the lowest median incomes at $25,820. While couple families have a higher household income these higher occupancy households have greater expenses.

1.9 Percentage of Renter and Owner Households Across Income Brackets, 2010

Percentage of Renter and Owner Households Across Income Brackets

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey

In Niagara 78 per cent of renter households have incomes less than $54,000 compared to owner households the majority of which have incomes over $54,000. Renter households are more likely to face problems with housing affordability.

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