For the first time in eight years, Calgary has fallen out of the top five when it comes strongest population growth in Canada among ‘census metropolitan areas.’
According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, Calgary and Edmonton both had growth rates of 1.8 per cent, behind cities:
Saskatoon – 2.8
Regina – 2.4
Guelph – 2.2
Ottawa – Gatineau (Ontario part) 2.2
Toronto – 1.9
Oshawa and Winnipeg also increased by 1.8 per cent, while Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo was at 1.7.
Edmonton joins Calgary in falling out of the top five for the first time since 2010.
“The population growth of CMAs in Alberta has been lower since 2013/2014, coinciding with the commodities downturn that began in 2014,” the report said. “This downturn was also associated with the rising unemployment rate in the province from the beginning of 2015, which reached a peak at the end of 2016.”
The data also said interprovincial migration rates in Calgary at -0.3 per cent and Edmonton at -0.2, were negative for the second consecutive year, following five years of gains.
University of Calgary Economist and Research Fellow at the School of Public Policy Trevor Tombe said it’s not a big surprise to see the growth rate slow, considering the increases in out-migration.
“Calgary and Edmonton are not immune from that, but the growth rate in both Calgary and Edmonton is still faster than Alberta as a whole,” he said.
Tombe also said while the out-migration has had its analytical effect, the trend is changing in Alberta’s favour.
“In the most recent quarter of data available for Alberta, we have started to see a return of positive interprovincial migration into Alberta as a whole, so I suspect that going forward, this 2016 to 2017 will be kind of a low point of population growth rate for these two cities,” he said.
The report also speaks to the consistent shift of cities getting bigger and smaller communities getting smaller.
As of July 1, over 70 per cent of Canadians lived in CMAs, with 35 per cent living in Canada’s three largest cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Population growth in CMAs was three times higher than non-CMA communities, repeating the trend of 2016.
Looking at Alberta, the population of non-CMA areas fell for the second consecutive year, and Tombe said rising levels of urbanization is difficult for policymakers to address because it’s a global trend.
“Why people are choosing to move into urban areas is going to be a complicated question,” he said. “As populations age, access to quality healthcare facilities, for example, is going to be a rising concern and typically those are found in city centres.”
For more on the data, click here.