Updated population projections from the Government of Alberta show the province will be home to an additional 2.3 million residents over the next 28 years, reaching 6.6 million by 2046.
In a new document released Wednesday by Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, predictions include Alberta’s average age will become older by three years, at 41 years old, up from the current 38.
International migration will make Alberta more diverse, and the province will become more urbanized with 80 per cent of residents living in the Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary corridor.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is not surprised, although he admits these new numbers outpace slightly previous projections.
“This is why getting our cities right, and continuing to invest and support in their growth and infrastructure is absolutely critical,” he said in an interview with Global News.
“Good urban planning to try to keep people moving and keep commerce going in this region is so critical.”
Iveson also said it validates the work city council is doing to strengthen the core neighborhoods of Edmonton.
“It’s why we have to build a backbone of rapid transit, because the traffic will be brutal otherwise when you’ve got two or three million people in this region. And it’s why we have to build up more with more density and more efficiency for the city just to accommodate the sheer number of people that are going to be coming here in the coming years,” the mayor said.
“It’s not slowing down.”
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Alberta’s population is projected to surpass the five million mark by 2027 and reach the six million mark by 2039. Under the low and high scenarios, Alberta’s total population in 2046 is projected to be between 5.8 million and 7.8 million; gains of 1.4 million and 3.5 million respectively.
Population will also pick up, the report said, as the economy gains momentum after two years of lower net inflows in 2016 and 2017.
“Between 2018 and 2022, average annual growth is expected to be 1.7 per cent, compared to 1.3 per cent in the 2014-2018 period,” the report said.
Economic activity between both cities, and the counties that surround them, is expected to strengthen, Iveson said. The next step he’d like to see is the two centres working in concert to promote Alberta across the country and internationally.
“It’s an integrated economic system with really two heavyweight champions in Edmonton and Calgary. We’ve got to figure out a way to leverage that cooperatively, rather than just compete with each other,” he said.
“We’ve gotten away with that because of the oil bonanza for many years but now out there in a tougher economic situation with more constraints on us, more than ever we have to take Alberta and its two great big cities out there to the world in unison and we’ve been having those conversations with Calgary. That’s why I’ll be at the Stampede Investment Forum next week.”
Other highlights from the report include that natural population will increase by 758,000 through 2046 as births outpace deaths. The majority of the more than 1.5 million net migrants projected to arrive over the next 28 years will be young adults aged 18 to 34. And a girl born in Alberta in 2018 could expect to live to 83.7 years of age, while a boy could live to 79.2 years.