Alberta Population Could Surpass B.C. By 2043

Recent data by Statistics Canada indicates Alberta is poised to be the leader in Canada for population growth in the future as the province continues to recover from the harsh economic downturn that began in late 2014 when oil prices collapsed.

The federal agency is predicting Alberta will have the highest population growth over the next 25 years.

“By 2043, Alberta’s population would number between six million and 7.3 million inhabitants depending on the scenario, compared with 4.3 million in 2018,” it said in a recent report.

“Alberta’s population could surpass that of British Columbia by 2043, according to almost all scenarios.”

Aman Bhalla, Senior Vice President of Investment Management for Avenue Living Communities, says the residential rental company, which is based in Calgary, plans to address the needs for what will be a growing workforce housing population in Alberta.

“Some of the stats in Statistics Canada releases recently indicate that the Prairie provinces will be where a lot of future population growth will be seen. And Alberta is specifically mentioned along with Ontario as being one of the areas where the Canadian population will see the biggest growth,” he says.

“For us, to draw the correlation between Alberta growth in terms of population and how we see ourselves positioned in the multi-family rental space there’s obviously a good correlation and a strong connection there. We certainly look at that as a key driver for us. It’s very encouraging. As population grows, demand for housing will continue to grow and a lot of other trends also point in the direction of rental properties in fairly good demand in those scenarios.”

Avenue Living currently has 5,300 units across various markets in the province, specifically Calgary, Edmonton, Brooks, Bonnyville, Camrose, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Wetaskiwin.

Avenue Living has aggressively built a portfolio of 8,800 residential rental units across Western Canada in just 13 years. The company’s journey began in 2006 with the purchase of 24 rental units in Brooks, Alberta for $3 million. Avenue Living, which has a diversified portfolio across 17 markets in the Prairies, will continue to provide homes for the workforce housing population well into the future. The company expects to grow to more than 10,000 residential units across Western Canada by the end of this year.

“The demand for workforce housing will continue to grow. We are proving to be a very attractive player in that segment. For us, it’s a very favourable situation,” says Bhalla.

A recent report by Statistics Canada said Alberta’s population growth has accelerated for a second consecutive year, owing in part to interprovincial migrations exchanges which were positive after three consecutive years of losses.

The federal agency estimated that population in Alberta as of July was 4.4 million. The 1.6 per cent growth over the previous year was higher than the Canadian average of 1.42 per cent and followed 1.34 per cent growth for the province in the 2017-18 period.

Alberta’s population grew by 70,000 people.

According to ATB Financial’s Economics & Research Team, although Alberta’s current pace of population growth is relatively brisk, it is slower than it used to be. Annual growth averaged 2.3 per cent over the 10 years before the recession, peaking at three per cent in 2006 during the natural gas boom. Between 2015 and 2019, annual growth has averaged a more modest 1.4 per cent.

The good news for Alberta is net interprovincial migration is growing again. Net interprovincial migration has been positive for the last four quarters after 12 consecutive quarters in the red, according to ATB. In the second quarter of this year, Alberta had 24,019 in-migrants and 23,602 out-migrants.

It’s a good sign that more people now are coming to Alberta from other provinces, rather than leaving. Another good sign is that Alberta has the lowest median age among the provinces at 37.1 years.

Also supporting population growth is immigration. In the second quarter, Alberta had 12,413 immigrants move to the province while in the first quarter of the year it was 8,543.

When people move to Alberta from other provinces, the likelihood is that they initially search out rental housing.

“Stats Canada also speaks a lot about our new immigrant population which is also a key demographic of our resident population. So we (Avenue Living) are very favourably positioned from both those aspects,” adds Bhalla.