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Edmonton surpasses 1M residents in latest census

More than one million people now call Edmonton home but Alberta’s overall population growth is lagging behind the rest of the country, according to new data.

Between 2016 to 2021, the province grew 4.8 per cent, bringing the number of Albertans to just over 4.2 million, according to a census conducted by Statistics Canada.

That’s below the national average of 5.2 per cent.

According to the findings, Edmonton had the second highest growth rate of any metropolitan area. Metro Edmonton, which includes surrounding municipalities, is now over 1.4 million people.

However, Statistics Canada indicated a population decline in the city’s downtown core of 1.1 per cent, a decrease challenged by the Downtown Edmonton Community League.

Chris Buyze, the president of the league, told CTV News Edmonton that Statistics Canada includes neighbourhoods like Oliver, Riverdale and Central McDougall in their boundaries rather than just “downtown proper.”

Buyze notes the core boundaries as 97 Street to 109 Street and 97 Avenue to 105 Avenue.

He said when looking at data within those boundaries population increase has actually gone up about 17.5 per cent in the last five years.

“And that’s fantastic news,” he said.

Buyze credits the increase to added amenities in the area, and investments from both the city and private developers.

“We saw things like the Ice District being built, Rogers Place open in 2017 and there was a number of private residential towers that were built during that time,” he said.

While Buyze is optimistic about the future of downtown and the surrounding neighbourhoods, Puneeta McBryan, the executive director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, said more work needs to be done for it to be a “thriving hub.”

“We need that whole big downtown, the bigger footprint to be growing and getting more and more dense,” she said.

According to the census, the growth in intermediate suburbs largely surpassed that of the downtown, urban fringes and nearby suburbs, growing by 23.4 per cent.

“We can’t just grow in the suburbs for families, we have to think about the core differently,” McBryan said, adding it’s “regressive” to think downtown living is only for a certain stage of life.

“We have to get serious about growing within those poor neighbourhoods and curbing that growth on the outskirts.”

In the next five years, Buyze said the city will start to see more population density in central Edmonton as projects begin to wrap up.

“I think we’re seeing that momentum and will continue to see it.”

According to the census, Edmonton is still the sixth largest city in the country behind Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary.

However, Statistics Canada noted Canada’s overall population hit 37 million, growing at the fastest rate of all G7 nations.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alison Mackinnon Top Stories

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