Canada's five fastest growing urban areas are all in Ontario

Peterborough tops the list for the fastest growing census metropolitan area in Canada.

Leamington, Ont. population has the highest rate of decline in the country

Windsor is the fourth fastest growing urban area in Canada. (Kevin Biskaborn)

Statistics Canada says more than seven in 10 Canadians live in an urban area — and the five fastest growing census metropolitan areas are all in Ontario.

As of July 1, 2018, 26.5 million people are living in a census metropolitan area, a 1.8 per cent increase from 2016-17.

Peterborough tops the list, with its population growth rate per thousand jumping from 19.8 to 30.5, from 2016-17 to 2017-18.

Coming second is Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ottawa-Gatineau, Windsor and London.

Population change by census metropolitan area, 2017/18, Canada. (Statistics Canada)

Regina, Sask. is sixth on the list with 22.5 per thousand in 2017-18.

The mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, said people are drawn to the city because of the quality of life.

"We understand that we have that small Canadian city feel, but we have access to all sorts of major amenities across in Detroit," said Dilkens.

Dilkens mentioned there's a high interest in Windsor from not only people wanting to move to the area, but also businesses. 

"I think the economy is doing well, the plan is working, and I'm excited to see all the investment and development going on."

While some populations are rapidly growing in other parts of the country, Leamington, Ont. saw the highest rate of decline in Canada.

The growth rate in Leamington in 2017-18 was measured at -20.3. Following that, the next city with high decline is Estevan, Sask., with -18.5.

According to Statistics Canada, the decline in Leamington is attributed partly to "almost non-existent gains from natural increase" and a reduction in the number of non-permanent residents in the area.

In Estevan, this is the fourth consecutive year that the area has seen a decline in population growth.

Mayor of Leamington Hilda MacDonald says the town is working on attracting young families. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Mayor of Leamington Hilda MacDonald said the rate of decline doesn't tell the full story because of the large population of migrant workers in the town who are employed by greenhouses in the region.

"It would be the same as coming to Florida, and the one year you count the spring breakers as part of the population, and next year you don't," she said.

However, the town is still looking at how it can increase its population. 

Instead of attracting more migrant workers, MacDonald said the town is working on bringing in young professionals and people who have the intention of settling in Leamington and making it their home.

She pointed to the town's new amphitheatre, revitalization of the town core and the extensive library renovation as ways in which cultural amenities are improving.

"By making your community more attractive, those people will come to our town, they will live in our town, they will shop, they will work," she said.


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