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Calgary census data shows city population growth taking off

Calgary’s civic census results show a city rebounding from the downturn, with “healthy” population increase of just over 21,000 residents, or 1.69 percent, according to Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

The population now sits at 1,267,344 as of April 1.

“It not like the record years I had, four years in a row,” said Nenshi speaking to the growth rate, “but it is certainly much higher than in the past.”

During the economic downturn, the city had two years of very low population growth. In 2016 growth was only .35 percent, and last year it was at .9 per cent.

The numbers show natural population increase was down just slightly from last year – 9,419 more people were born in Calgary than died, or 773 fewer than in 2017.  At the same time, net migration was up 974 over 2017’s number, with a gain of 11, 588 newly arrived Calgarians.

The numbers released Friday morning also show a declining vacancy rate over 2017’s numbers, with more homes under construction and fewer vacant units.

The top five communities with the biggest population growth included the Beltline, Saddle Ridge, Cornerstone, Redstone and Mahogany.

Although four of those five are new communities near the edge of the city, The mayor noted strong population growth in the inner city as a good sign.

“We’re starting to see more young families moving into these neighbourhoods, although not always at the preschool age,” he said.

He did say that those communities, while growing, are not always available to people in all walks of life.

“The problem that we’re always facing now is that so many of these inner city and developed neighbourhoods are so popular that they’re no longer affordable for young families,” said Nenshi.

He said council is combating that by allowing more density in developed neighbourhoods with row-housing and fourplexes.

One inner city community he noted with a decline in population was Shaganappi, and Nenshi said it was something he wanted to explore a bit more closely.

“We’re seeing the population decline even though there’s a newish LRT station serving that neighbourhood,” said Nenshi.

Mike Wilhelm, president of the Shaganappi Community Association, said he thinks the count simply happened during a time of transition.

He said there are a number of multi-unit developments that have been approved for the community, but many seem to have stalled.

“The population is likely down because there are landholders holding vacant developments,” said Wilhelm.

He said he doesn’t believe affordability is an issue in Shaganappi, and the elementary school in the community is filled to capacity with children almost entirely from the catchment area.

He said in the long run, with more multi-family units being built, Shaganappi should see healthy growth.

The mayor noted that this was the city’s 60th year for its annual census, and this year more data than ever will be available online for anyone to access, including interactive census maps.

“If you want to slice and dice the numbers we’re making it easy to do that,” said Nenshi.

That census data can be found at Calgary.ca/census.