As “The Garden Spot,” Canby has something of a reputation for growing, but not, apparently, when it comes to its own population. At least, not according to the 2018 preliminary estimates published by the Portland State University Population Research Center earlier this month.
They estimated Canby’s current population to be 16,660 souls. If that number looks familiar, it’s because it’s the exact same estimate they gave us for last year. That’s right: Absolutely zero population growth occurred in Canby over the last 12 months. This is despite Clackamas County being the third fastest growing county in the state during that same period.
“That sure doesn’t sound correct,” Canby Fire District Division Chief Todd Gary says. “Just look at the building permits we’ve issued and the development we’ve seen recently.”
However, Gary also admitted that flat growth wasn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility.
“I do believe our families are older and smaller,” he says. “A new family with a couple of kids may have a hard time finding a place to live in Canby.”
That’s not just a Canby problem. The center’s estimate for the state’s overall population growth (54,200) was markedly slower than the previous year. The reason for that? The birth rate in our state barely exceeds the death rate, with net migration being almost the sole driver for growth.
“Due to an aging population and declining birth rates, natural increase [the number of births minus the number of deaths] now contributes less to Oregon’s population growth than any time since the 1930s,” a press release from the Population Research Center says.
The numbers do matter, as they are used in land use planning at the state, county and local levels. City officials can challenge estimates they believe are incorrect between now and Dec. 15, when the preliminary results are scheduled to be finalized.
Update: The Canby School District has provided their most recent enrollment numbers. They show a slight decline since 2012, which would support the idea of slower-than-expected population growth in Canby. Here are the numbers:
Update 2: Looks like we spoke too soon. The real issue was that the city unintentionally failed to get the Research Center the information they needed to revise their population estimates. More here.