Alberta almost at 4,000,000 people – they have to live somewhere

Paula Simons column in the Calgary Herald this weekend entitled “ Population Growth will Change Alberta forever” is, without a doubt, an interesting read.

 The article states  “Last year alone, Alberta welcomed almost 200,000 new arrivals (198,285 to be exact).  Most fresh Albertans came from other parts of Canada more than 110,000.”

 Paula continues the article “That breakneck pace isn’t slowing.  In June, Statistics Canada reported an estimated 26,714 people moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada in the first quarter of 2013”

All of this will keep the Alberta housing market alive and rising as all these people have to live some where. The rental vacancy rate in Calgary is now less than 1%. Expect prices to rise due to the demand.


Population growth will change Alberta forever

By Paula Simons, Calgary Herald July 5, 2013
Four million. Four million Albertans.

No one is quite sure exactly when our provincial odometer will tick over, but some time in the next few weeks and months, there will be four million people living in this province.

Our current estimated total population is 3,965,339. That means we only need a population increase of 35,000 to reach four million. Of course, in a year, some people leave the province. Some die. Still, given Alberta’s annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent, by far the highest in Canada, we’re on track to hit 4.1 million residents by this time next year.

By way of comparison, British Columbia’s current population is 4.6 million.

“It’s a benchmark,” says Todd Hirsch, ATB Financial’s chief economist. “We’re going to require some time to think of ourselves as a province of four million people.

“This is no longer your grandfather’s Alberta. At these current growth rates, Alberta will surpass British Columbia by the year 2020.”

“The momentum is ours, because of the jobs and economic activity we have here,” says Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner. “Frankly, four million is a big number. But we’re going to hit the five-million mark sooner than most people think — before 2020. No doubt there’s going to be a shift in the way Albertans think about their future.”

Frank Trovato is a professor of demography and population studies in the University of Alberta’s department of sociology.

“A milestone of four million is not insignificant for people, for their sense of self,” he says.

“Growth means more influence from a cultural, political and economic perspective,” Trovato says. “I think, as a province, we are developing a greater sense of who we are, a greater sense of our own importance.”

In truth, we’ve long thought of ourselves as a province of three million or so, fourth place in Confederation. But we may have reached both a demographic and a psychological tipping point.

Last year alone, Alberta welcomed almost 200,000 new arrivals — 198,285, to be precise. Who were they, exactly? The answer may surprise you.

In 2012, Alberta saw a record number of immigrants: 35,764, from some 200 different countries, with the largest number coming from the Philippines, India, China and the United Kingdom.

Alberta also produced a record number of babies last year — a bumper crop of 52,398.

But most “fresh” Albertans came from other parts of Canada. In 2012, more than 110,000 people migrated from other provinces to this one.

That breakneck pace isn’t slowing. In June, Statistics Canada reported an estimated 26,714 people moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada in the first quarter of 2013. In the same quarter, another 13,276 left Alberta — we’re a province in flux. Still, that gave us a net interprovincial gain of 13,438 — one of the highest quarterly gains Alberta has seen in the last 20 years.

The majority of new arrivals, whether from abroad or another province, are young — between 18 and 44, in their prime child-bearing years. Indeed, last year, Alberta actually “produced” almost 10,000 more babies than British Columbia.

IT consultant Karen Parker, 35, and her husband Dan Sameoto, 34, a professor of mechanical engineering, are a case in point. She’s from Hamilton, Ont. He grew up in Dartmouth, N.S. They moved to Edmonton three years ago from Vancouver, after Sameoto got a job at the U of A. Their son Robert was born here one month later. Three weeks ago, he was followed by a very fresh Albertan, baby sister Charlotte.

How is life in Alberta? “It was definitely a big adjustment for us,” says Parker. “I actually didn’t know how to drive when I moved to Edmonton! But we love the city. We love our neighbourhood. We love our quality of life. It’s also a super family-friendly city. There’s so much to do with kids here. We’re not going anywhere else, any time soon.”

The demographic shift Parker and Sameoto illustrate is reshaping our province in profound ways, changing our political and social culture, transforming what it means to be a “typical” Albertan.

“We are becoming more diverse, culturally and ethnically,” says Trovato, “and much more urban.”

Is this remarkable growth good news? Bad news? Something between? Certainly, our extraordinary demographic trend stands to gobble up agricultural land, tax our watersheds, strain our electrical grid, our freeways, our schools, our hospitals.

Keeping pace isn’t easy. Yet just as economic prosperity drives population growth, population growth itself helps to fuel the economy, creating more demands for goods, for services, for housing.

As we close in on the four-million mark, as we plan for five million, we must find ways to balance the demands of growth with the needs of our community and of our environment, ways to reform our political institutions to reflect more fairly our new demographic realities.

It’s time for us to lose our inferiority complex, that chip on our shoulders. Time for us to prepare for a new role, and new destiny.

Paula Simons is an Edmonton Journal columnist.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald  

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