Calgary's Population Grows and Homes Sell Despite Downturn

Posted by Justin Havre. on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 at 2:17pm.


The federal government’s census data released last week tells a completely different story than the one we're used to hearing  Even with job losses and the price of oil plummeting, Calgary experienced the most growth of any large Canadian city over the past five years.

Calgary outpaced the Eastern Canadian region of Ottawa-Gatineau and has grown to become the country’s 4th largest metropolitan area says Stats Canada which released the data from the 2016 census on February 8, 2017.  Calgary metro is now 1.4 million and Ottawa metro is just a hair behind at 1.3 million.

In crunching the numbers, Stats Canada says that preliminary figures show that the population of Calgary increased between 2011 and 2016 by 14.6 per cent.  Compare this number with Canada’s average growth rate of just 5%.   A remarkable feat since many feared the city’s net migration figures might have stalled growth and stalled new housing starts in Calgary and area.  But the numbers speak to a different picture.  Calgary was the fastest growing city in 2011 census as well.

In 2016, the Calgary metro area had a population of 1,392,609 whereas the 2011 number was 1,214,839.  The actual city itself was 1,239,220 which is an increase of the 2011 census when the population of the city was 1,096,833.

The federal agency has its own criteria for establishing what a metropolitan area is.  Stats Canada doesn’t use municipal boundaries but uses this definition:  A census metro area is a region with a minimum population of 100,000 where the urban core has a population of at least 50,000 residents.  By using this definition as a guideline, Stats Canada can measure the impact of growth in the suburbs of large cities. 

The definition of Calgary Metro includes the outlying areas of Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere and Bragg Creek along with Beiseker but does not extend as far south as Okotoks.

Some of these cities and towns in the Metro area also experienced high growth volumes in the five-year census period.  Cochrane’s population was up by 47.1%, Airdrie by 42.3% and the City of Chestermere which grew by 34.2% since 2011.  Beiseker experienced the smallest growth in population at 4.3%.

Okotoks grew by 17.8% to a population of 28,881.

What this means for Calgary

In a CBC interview, Scott Crockatt of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce said that these positive numbers bode well for those looking at the city as a future place in which to bring their business.  He noted that international commerce runs on statistics and the world will view Calgary as a place that is continuing to growth, where there’s optimism and excitement.   It’s where people want to relocate and to invest – a community that is growing and evolving with more potential for workers and for more customers.

Alberta as a whole

Stats Canada says that of all provinces, Alberta’s growth rate was 11.6% the highest in the country.  Saskatchewan at 6.3% and Manitoba at 5.8% were the two closest provinces.  Alberta has been the fastest growing province since 2006.  B.C. grew by 5.6%, Ontario by 4.6%, Quebec at 3.3%, PEI at 1.9%, Newfoundland and Labrador at 1% and Nova Scotia at 0.2%. The only Canadian province to experience negative growth was New Brunswick which shrank by 0.5%.

Ontario continues to be the province with the largest population with more than 13 million residents followed by Quebec at 8.16 million, B.C. with 4.65 million and then Alberta.

Canada’s population

The census figures also showed that Canada’s population is now in excess of 35 million people.

Population is just the first wave of information coming from Stats Canada in the weeks to come.  Once all the data is shared from last May’s census, it will show a clear image of our country including the makeup of Canadian families, which languages are predominantly spoken in Canada, where people are immigrating from, household income and education information.  Patterns in population changes will be noted along with birth and death rates. 

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