Halifax population increased by more than 20,000 people in 2022

Click to play video: 'Infrastructure improvements in HRM needed to keep up with growing population'
Infrastructure improvements in HRM needed to keep up with growing population
WATCH: Data from Statistics Canada is showing that Halifax and Moncton were the fastest-growing urban regions in Canada last year. As Megan King reports, improvements to infrastructure throughout HRM will be necessary to keep up with the rapidly growing population – Jan 12, 2023

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) saw a 4.4 per cent growth in population in 2022, bringing the city’s total population to more than 480,000.

“We have normally, since 2016, seen around 8,000, 9,000, 10,000 new people a year — which was aggressive growth to begin with,” says HRM regional and community planning director Kate Greene. “Now to see that almost double with these latest estimates, is really requiring us to think about how we want to grow as a municipality.”

Greene says the controlled growth Halifax has experienced until now positions the community well for building an “amazing city” that already offers services in areas city staff plan to intensify.

“We’ve been stepping back and doing a look at how we grow, where we grow, how we intensify within the region,” says Greene. “And we’ve been doing that with our council through the Regional Plan Review.”

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The plan looks to intensify the regional centre and suburban communities of HRM, well ahead of schedule.

“The population growth that we’ve projected in 2014 took us to this level of population by 2031,” Greene says. “So we’re really growing a lot more rapidly than thought in that plan.”

The rapid growth over 2022 can largely be attributed to the arrival of two groups: immigrants and interprovincial migrants.

More than 10,000 people immigrated to the Halifax region in 2022, and 8,000 more came from other Canadian provinces.

“Population growth is driven by three components: births, deaths and migration,” Dalhousie University professor Eric Rapaport says. “These three components are things that cities cannot control. And especially migration. Migration is controlled first by policies of the federal government, and as well as the provincial government. So, for a city, it just kind of waits and sees.”

The School of Planning professor says the addition of trains, ferries and other transportation needs to be prioritized to address the rising population.

“They have tried over and over again to bring in a train that would go from Bedford or even Sackville inward, now we’re looking at a fast ferry. Those things need to happen,” says Rapaport. “Those things cannot be put on the back burner anymore.”

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And in an effort to adapt to the rapid growth, the province is creating a Regional Transportation Plan.

“That’ll help plan into five years, 10 years, 20 years and beyond,” says Guy Deveau of the Joint Regional Transportation Agency.

The agency was mandated in the fall to help improve the flow of people and goods in HRM — especially during times of unprecedented growth.

According to the province, this rate of growth keeps Nova Scotia on track to meet its goal of doubling the provincial population to two million by 2060.

HRM’s Regional Plan Review will head to council for approval in the fall of this year, with more engagement planned in the meantime before its completion.

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