Calgary

Calgary bumped out of the fastest growing club, says national census

Albertans are used to being the biggest and the best when it comes to economic matters, but the 2021 Canadian census tells a story of a city that's moved into the middle of the pack.

Ottawa also pushes Alberta's biggest city into 5th place in total population

The Bow River reflects pastel tones cast by the setting sun behind the skyline of Calgary — a city that is no longer in the top five fastest growing large cities in Canada. (Christy Caswell)

Calgarians are used to being the biggest and the best when it comes to economic matters and population growth, but the 2021 Canadian census tells a story of a city that's moved into the middle of the pack.

For the first time in 25 years, Calgary no longer ranks among the five fastest-growing census metropolitan areas (CMA) in Canada. However, with immigration, the city's population is still growing and had the six fastest growth between the 2016 and 2021 censuses.

The Calgary CMA, which includes the city and outlying communities, grew by 6.8 per cent, which was still above the national average of 5.2 per cent but closer to the middle of the pack when it comes to growth in Canadian cities.

Some of the biggest growth spots in the Calgary metropolitan are on the periphery of the city proper and in the surrounding communities of Airdrie, Cochrane and Chestermere.

Parts of those areas achieved percentage growth in the double, triple or even quadruple digits, most likely because of new developments, while much of the inner suburbs underwent decreases in population.

In one area at the northern edge of Calgary city limits, north of Stoney Trail in an area that includes the communities of Carrington, Livingston and Lewisburg, the population went from just 71 in 2016 to nearly 4,000 in 2021. That's a 5,412 per cent increase.

Another area at the opposite end of Calgary in the south that includes Walden and Wolf Willow similarly increased, from 87 to 3,391 people, or an increase of almost 4,000 per cent.

This follows a trend similar to many other wealthy cities during the pandemic where people opted for greater space farther away from city cores. However, some of the city's most central and dense neighbourhoods did record some modest growth.

Cities with access to nature did very well in this census and the numbers show it. Canmore grew by more than 14 per cent between 2016 and 2021, making it the fifth fastest growing census agglomeration in the country, according to Census Canada.

Calgary's two closest metro neighbours, Edmonton and Vancouver, both grew by 7.3 per cent.

The census shows Alberta's population at just over 4.2 million people.

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