EDMONTON – Edmontonâ€™s booming growth saw a population the size of St. Albert move in over the last two years.
Edmonton grew faster than Calgary and faster than the province of Alberta, a province currently seeing the fastest growth in Canada.
Our population reached 877,926 people, an increase of 7.4 per cent and 60,000 people.
â€œItâ€™s a big number, bigger than we thought and thatâ€™s an exciting thing for us,â€� said Mayor Don Iveson. â€œLooking at these numbers, it wonâ€™t be long before we overtake Ottawa to be the fourth largest municipality in the country. Weâ€™ll probably reach one million people by the end of the decade, which is a big psychological milestone.â€�
â€œWithout a doubt, Edmonton is growing up,â€� added Iveson. â€œItâ€™s a forward-looking, youthful, cosmopolitan, confident city that competes globally for people, for investment and for fun.â€�
Iveson said the numbers should send a strong message to the provincial and federal governments, emphasizing the need for more funding to build amenities and deal with the challenges of poverty and crime that occur in a big city.
Ottawa is the next largest city in Canada. The city doesnâ€™t conduct a municipal census, but estimates its population is 944,900 this year.
The last Edmonton municipal census was held in 2012, when the city had 817,498 people. That was a 4.5-per-cent increase from 2009, when the city had a population of 782,439.
Calgary now has a population of 1.195 million.
The population figures are important to the city, not just for civic pride, but also for calculating a variety of federal and provincial grants. The raw data are available on the cityâ€™s website.
The census found about 70 per cent of Edmonton residents drive to work, but the census gives a finer picture, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Here are the neighbourhoods that most emphasize non-driving ways to get to work.
â€” Walking: Garneau (32%), Downtown (31%)
â€” Biking: Parkallen (7%), Queen Alexandra (6%)
â€” Passenger in a car: Griesbach (25%), Cumberland (24%)
â€” Public transit: Central McDougall (40%), Cromdale (36%)
The city also found that in neighbourhoods next to an LRT line, more than 30 per cent of residents take public transit to work.
Several mature neighbourhoods that had seen their populations shrink dramatically over the past decades as children grew up and moved out are now seeing increases again.
Parkdale, a neighbourhood just north of 118th Avenue, has gained more than 400 residents in two years, increasing the population to levels not seen since the late 1970s. In particular, the 19 years and younger crowd grew 30 per cent.
â€œWeâ€™re getting some of that recovery,â€� said planning branch manager Peter Ohm.
Planners still need further study to see how much this represents increased housing density and how much was caused by younger families moving into older neighbourhoods.
Nine of the top 10 high-growth neighbourhoods were in the south, which adds more urgency to Edmontonâ€™s annexation bid in Leduc County, said Iveson.
â€œWeâ€™re growing unusually quickly,â€� said Coun. Bryan Anderson, whose southern ward gained 13,458 more people.
People in the rest of the city donâ€™t realize how dense these neighbourhoods are growing, he said. Ambleside, just south of the Anthony Henday, already has two residential towers, one nine storeys high and one 12 storeys. Another tower, possibly reaching 18 storeys, is in the planning stages across from The Currents of Windermere shopping centre.