Once in a while when researching one thing, my attention is caught by something else (Oh. Look! Shiny!) and I take off on a tangent. Statistics interest me because by organizing them different ways you learn different things. I was looking at changes over time to the population of the area I grew up in and decided to have a look at Rural Saskatchewan in general. All data comes from Wikipedia.
Municipal governance is a responsibility of the provinces so it is different in each one of the Prairie Provinces. Some of those differences are summarized in the table below:
Most of Alberta’s Rural Municipal Districts are classed as Counties under Alberta’s rural governance legislation. Several of Manitoba’s Rural Municipal Districts are quite small and densely populated, not really rural but not quite urban.
Of Saskatchewan's 782 municipalities, 462 of them are urban municipalities (16 cities, 146 towns, 160 villages and 40 resort villages), 296 are rural municipalities and 24 are northern municipalities (2 northern towns, 11 northern villages and 11 northern hamlets).
Initially I set out to look at means and standard deviations but had no faith in the numbers generated by Excel’s built-in functions. Someone who knows about these things (Thanks, Ian) advised me to always plot my data and suggested Scatter charts. First time I ever used them and I love them.
Methodology as follows: Copy/pasted the data from Wiki to Excel. Sorted four different ways (Area, 2011 Population, % Change Between 2006 and 2011, and Population Density) and removed six (in one case five) outliers for each one which are tabled separately. Removing extreme outliers makes the chart more useful as it distributes the remaining data better. Created a scatter chart for each of the items of interest.
The south half of Saskatchewan is surveyed into the standard grid of townships, sections and road allowances, areas deemed suitable for agriculture. Saskatchewan RMs were ideally to be three townships by three townships (18 miles by 18 miles), 324 sections or 207,360 acres, which works out to 840 km2. Throw in topography such as lakes and rivers and the ideal goes out the window.
Two hundred and twenty-five RMs are within 500 to 1000 km2 but only 28 are in the 800 to 900 km2 range and 42 in the 700 to 800 km2 range. 52 are over 1000 km2, mostly in the north (trees and brush) or the south west (short grass prairie) and are not so suitable for farming. Some larger ones are the result of amalgamation of RMS but those are few in number, although legislation encouraging amalgamation has been in place for years.
Population in 2011
Population of Saskatchewan RMs ranges from the sublime (Corman Park 8,354) to the ridiculous (Glen McPherson 73). Fifty-one RMs had populations of under 250 people (including my home RM of Reford with 235), 131 had populations between 251 and 499, while 80 had populations between 500 and 999. The balance (34) had populations of over 1000, only 6 of which had more than 2500 people. Five of these were close to urban centres.
One hundred and one RMs gained population between 2006 and 2011; the other 195 lost population. Net change to the rural population was -1%. Changes ranged from a gain of over 80% to a loss of over 40%.
Population density for all 296 RMs in 2011 was 0.6 people per km2. 142 RMs had population densities of less than 0.5 persons per km2 while 123 RMs had population densities between 0.5 and 1.0. Only 31 RMs had more than 1 person per km2 and only five of those RMs had more than 2.5 persons per km2.
BackgroundThe mandatory and optional Municipal Services/Functions are described HERE. There is far more to Saskatchewan RMs than just road maintenance.
RM taxes are based on property evaluation or land assessment. Establishing land value for taxation purposes is complex as it is far more than just market value which fluctuates. Each Quarter Section (160 acres, 64.75 hectares) is assessed a value based on several factors. The RM tax rate is set as a percent of assessment across the entire municipality. RMs also collect the local school board taxes which are also property based.
Population does not equal farm numbers or ratepayer (RM taxpayer) numbers which are fewer than the population. Each RM has an office and Secretary, though often RMs will share an office and staff. Each RM has a Municipal Council with a Reeve and councilors. With the low population numbers, as one Councilor said to me years ago, “I could easily phone all my ratepayers before breakfast every day to see what they want me to do that day”.