Calgary area growth exceeds national rate

New census data shows the population of the metropolitan area of Calgary outpaced the national growth rate over the last five years — a period of time that saw the country spiral into the most serious economic tailspin since the Great Depression.

Calgary and Edmonton are the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Canada

New census data shows the population of the metropolitan area of Calgary outpaced the national growth rate over the last five years — a period of time that saw the country spiral into the most serious economic tailspin since the Great Depression.

Statistics Canada released the first batch of numbers from the 2011 census on Wednesday and the population of what the government agency refers to as the census metropolitan area of Calgary increased by 12.6 per cent since the last census in 2006.

The area's growth rate was above the national growth rate of 5.9 per cent, while the population of Alberta increased by 10.8 per cent.

Census metropolitan areas do not conform to established municipal boundaries. Statistics Canada defines them as a metropolitan area with a population of at least 100,000, where the urban core of that area has at least 50,000 people.

Commuting patterns and other factors are used in determining these census metropolitan areas. Looking at metropolitan areas this way takes in to account the growing impact of suburban areas on Canada's largest cities.

When the 2011 census was taken last May 10, the population of the census metropolitan area of Calgary was 1,214,839, compared with 1,079,310 from the 2006 census. The population of the actual city of Calgary was 1,096,833 up from 988,812 in 2006.

The census indicated that Calgary ranked No. 5 among the country's 33 census metropolitan areas.

Canada's population on census day was 33,476,688, Statistics Canada reported.

2012 residential permits up

Calgary also saw growth in estimated construction value of residential building permit applications in January over the previous year, according to the city.

Values for January 2012 are up 42 per cent to $153 million compared to $108 million in January 2011 for single family homes, duplexes, apartment and townhouses.

"The overall gain in residential value and number of new residential units can be attributed to increases in the apartment and townhouse sectors," said chief building official Kevin Griffiths.

But while residential permit values are up, non-residential building permit values dropped over the same period.

Values went down 88 per cent to $81 million in January 2012 compared to $662 million in January 2011, mostly because of the estimated $600 million value of the major airport terminal improvement project.

Taking the airport terminal project out of the equation, the city says January 2012 compares very favourably in all categories to January 2011.

The national census is conducted every five years. The information published Wednesday is the first of several releases of data to come from Statistics Canada over the next year and longer that will eventually paint a detailed picture of the country, right down to the local level — including age breakdowns of the population, family makeup, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, the level of education attained and income earned.

At the national level, the 2011 census showed Canada's population grew the fastest of the G8 countries over the last five years — ahead of the United States (4.4 per cent), the United Kingdom (3.5 per cent), Italy (3.2 per cent), France (2.8 per cent), Russia (0.1 per cent), Japan (no change) and Germany (which had a population decrease of 0.8 per cent).

The western provinces, where the recession had less of an impact than in central and eastern Canada, led the way in population growth. Alberta saw the highest increase at 10.8 per cent, followed by British Columbia  (7.0 per cent) and Saskatchewan (6.7 per cent).

Manitoba (5.2 per cent) was the only western province with a population increase below the national average. Other provinces below the national growth rate were Nova Scotia (0.9 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (1.8 per cent), New Brunswick (2.9 per cent), Prince Edward Island (3.2 per cent), Quebec (4.7 per cent) and Ontario (5.7 per cent). Among the northern territories, the population changed by 0.0 per cent in the Northwest Territories, 11.6 per cent in the Yukon and 8.3 in Nunavut.

Ontario is still the country's most populous province, with a population of 12,851,821. The population of other provinces and territories: Quebec, 7,903,001; British Columbia, 4,400,057; Alberta, 3,645,257; Manitoba, 1,208,268; Saskatchewan, 1,033,381; Nova Scotia, 921,727; New Brunswick, 751,171; Newfoundland and Labrador, 514,536; Prince Edward Island, 140,204; Northwest Territories, 41,462; Yukon, 33,897 and Nunavut, 31,906.

Here is a local breakdown of census population information for communities in the Calgary region:

Calgary 1,096,833    988,812            10.9
Airdrie 42,564      28,927            47.1
Chestermere 14,824 9,923            49.4
Cochrane 17,580      13,760            27.8
Okotoks 24,511 17,150 42.9
Black Diamond 2,373 1,900 24.9
Turner Valley 2,167 1,908 13.6
High River 12,920 10,716 20.6
Banff 7,584 6,700 13.2
Canmore 12,288 12,039 2.1
Carstairs 3,442 2,699 27.5
Didsbury 4,957 4,305 15.1
Strathmore 12,305 10,280 19.7
Pincher Creek 3,685 3,625 1.7
Beiseker 785 804 -2.4
Crossfield 2,853 2,668 6.9
Irricana 1,162 1,243 -6.5
Rocky View County 36,461 33,173 9.9