Alberta's population continues to soar, according the latest Statistics Canada report, notching not only the highest net interprovincial gains ever recorded for the province, but also for any single province since such data started being recorded.
Alberta was home to 4.7 million people as of July 1, according to annual population estimates released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday — a little more than four per cent higher than the same time last year. That's an additional 184,400 people.
Other provinces, including Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, also saw their population increase at rates never observed since data started to be recorded, largely driven by a surge in international migration.
"In percentage terms, the last time population growth [for Alberta] was this high Stars on 45 and John Lennon were topping the charts. For music buffs, that's 1981, when the population grew 4.6 per cent," ATB Financial's research team wrote in a note Wednesday.
"In people terms, however, no other year comes close. This year's increase in the total population outmatches the previous record in 2013 by 77,800."
Interprovincial migration — that is, the difference between the number of people who moved to Alberta and the number who left — saw net gains of 56,245, the highest annual net gains ever recorded for any province or territory since data started being tracked in the early 1970s.
Impacts of a surge
Projections from the provincial government earlier this year suggested Alberta's population is expected to surpass the five-million mark later this decade, possibly as early as 2025.
That's raised concerns from Alberta's municipalities about the impacts of such a surge when it comes to services such as policing, education, health care and infrastructure.
Peter Brown, the mayor of Airdrie, Alta., located north of Calgary, said his bedroom community has grown somewhere in the vicinity of 26 per cent since 2016. He said the province's recent Alberta is Calling program may have been successful in drawing people from across Canada to the province.
"When these people come here, they expect to have all these amenities," Brown said in an interview with The Calgary Eyeopener.
"Honestly, if you're a growing municipality, it's very hard to keep up unless you're significantly increasing property taxes, which we all don't want to do."
The city of Airdrie has seen its population grow by more than a quarter since 2016, according to the mayor. That's leading to concerns about provincial funding for city services. (Helen Pike/CBC)
The record numbers are no surprise to Ann-Marie Lurie, the chief economist for the Calgary Real Estate Board. She said when it comes to local housing markets, sales activity has been exceptionally strong, especially in the second half of the year so far.
"We continue to see price gains, especially in markets like Calgary, where we not only have seen prices [rise] over the past several months, but we have hit new record highs," Lurie said, attributing that to both international and interprovincial migration.
Stéfane Marion, chief economist with the National Bank of Canada, said Alberta home prices are rising faster than the national average, which trickles down to other parts of the economy. (Colin Hall/CBC)
Stéfane Marion, chief economist with the National Bank of Canada, said recent population increases in the province may be attributed to the fact that Alberta is "no longer the best kept secret in Canada."
"What I mean by that is Edmonton and Calgary are the only two cities where home affordability is still better than it was in the 1980s — not the case elsewhere in the country," Marion said.
He added that interprovincial migration has had much to do with why home prices in Alberta are rising faster than the national average, which trickles down to other parts of the economy.