14 Feb 2020
WATERLOO REGION – Waterloo Region was the fastest growing urban area in the whole country, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
A new study looked at growth in 35 census metropolitan areas, which are the largest urban areas in the country with a population of 100,000 or more.
Waterloo region tops the list, increasing by 2.8% from 2018 to 2019 to reach an estimated population of 584,259 as of July 1, 2019. The census metropolitan area designated by Statistics Canada does not include the Township of Wellesley.
This growth even surpasses the following two fastest growing cities, both located in Ontario: London and Ottawa both saw their populations increase by 2.3%. Growth in the 35 census metropolitan areas averaged 1.7%, while growth was much slower in small communities and rural areas, where the population grew by an average of 0.6 %.
“It just matches everything we’ve seen happening in the Waterloo region,” said Matthew Chandy, director of the region’s regional economic development office. The growth of the labor market, the increase in construction activity and the expansion of businesses all reflect a growing population.
The most recent population estimate for the region was 601,220 at the end of 2018. This figure is expected to rise to 835,000 by 2041.
As the population grows, it may come with challenges in areas such as the availability and affordability of transportation and housing. Chandy said the importance of large investments in mass transit infrastructure, such as the Ion light rail system, will be further emphasized as the region develops.
It is about “ensuring that people can move effectively and efficiently within the region, as well as within and outside the region,” he said. The continued emergence of the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor means that more and more people will be looking to travel to and from the region for work.
Statistics Canada found that immigrants were responsible for almost all of the growth in urban areas, with permanent and temporary immigrants accounting for almost all of the 463,000 people who moved to larger cities.
The study found that populations in urban areas are younger than those in small communities and that small communities see their populations aging more quickly than urban areas, often because young people are moving. The average age in CMAs was 40.5 years, compared to 43.2 years in small centers or rural areas.
The population of the Waterloo region is younger than that of the country as a whole, with 68.8 percent of residents aged 16 to 64, compared to 66.5 percent for Canada as a whole.
The study found that Canada is becoming increasingly urban, with more than seven in ten Canadians – nearly 27 million people – living in a census metropolitan area.
The new study clearly shows that urban spread continues into the countryside. In census metropolitan areas, the fastest growing municipalities were the suburbs: East Gwillimbury, a city of 23,000 in York region, and Milton, the fastest growing in the Toronto region, while the suburbs of Calgary, Montreal and Edmonton have also experienced strong population increases.
Chandy said the report shows people recognize the opportunities that exist here. “As the fastest growing urban area in the country, there are people outside of Waterloo region who will certainly take note.”