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This article was published 16/6/2009 (4600 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg's population is growing slightly faster than statisticians expected, mainly because of increased immigration and Manitoba's relatively stable economy.
Statistics Canada has ratcheted up Winnipeg's population to 672,000, more than 5,000 people above an earlier 2009 forecast of 666,800, according to revised population estimates released last week.
The size of the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area -- essentially, the city and most of its bedroom communities -- has also been adjusted and is now pegged at 739,000, up 18,500 from a previous 2009 estimate of 720,500.
The revised population estimates, which are based on 2006 census data, are being treated as a sign that Winnipeg has finally overcome the malaise that plagued the city in the mid-1990s, when population growth was stagnant. But projections of further growth have city administrators worried about a worsening housing crisis.
City economist Georges Chartier said the main source of Winnipeg's recent growth is immigration, followed closely by the city's improved ability to retain the people who already live here. The end of the tar-sands boom in Alberta is beginning to have a positive effect on Winnipeg, Chartier said.
"Even during an economic slowdown, Winnipeg is still growing. That's reassuring to people," Chartier said in an interview. "People are still a little cautious about Winnipeg because of what happened in the 1990s, when immigration stopped and interprovincial migration increased.
"We're now looking at more people and we have to plan for that."
Over the next 10 years, Winnipeg's population is expected to increase by more than 70,000 people to approximately 744,000 by 2019, according to Statistics Canada. The Winnipeg region will reach 825,000 by the same year, the federal agency predicts.
Winnipeg desperately needs more multi-family housing to accommodate this growth, as immigrants and retiring baby boomers will choose to live in apartments rather than single-family homes.
Commercial realtors and social activists alike complain Winnipeg already has a housing crisis, as the residential rental vacancy rate now stands at less than one per cent.
For now, relatively affordable housing remains a draw for Winnipeg, despite the low apartment vacancy and residential property prices that increased by an average of 78 per cent between 2003 and 2008.
Laurel Fulford, 29, left Vancouver for Winnipeg in February, partly to take advantage of the low cost of living in the city. She was encouraged by friends who made the same move from the West Coast.
"The said there was a great music scene here and the rent's really reasonable. I got talked into it," said the web designer, who works for a B.C.-based firm and contributes to Winnipeg O' My Heart (www.winnipegomyheart.com), a blog about moving to Manitoba.
"I have to say coming to Winnipeg in February was a really bad idea, but now I'm really enjoying it. The negative things people talk about, I haven't really noticed here."
The ability to retain new migrants like Fulford will determine Winnipeg's economic future, the Conference Board of Canada has suggested. So will the continued success of targeted immigration programs such as Manitoba's provincial nominee program, Chartier suggests.
The city economist declined to comment on recent changes to provincial immigration rules governing the recruitment of foreign workers. Some immigration consultants fear the well-intentioned provincial legislation may inadvertently turn off the tap of immigrants who will be needed in increasing numbers to replace retiring baby bomers.
More people in ’Peg
WINNIPEG is growing slightly faster than expected, according to revised population estimates released last week.
Statistics Canada makes revisions between the formal censuses it conducts every five years.
Here are some of the highlights from a city analysis of the StatsCan population data:
REVISED population estimate for Winnipeg (within city limits) as of July 1, 2009. The previous population estimate for this year was 666,800.
REVISED population estimate for the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area as of July 1, 2009. The previous population estimate for this year was 720,500
Where is this growth coming from?
IMMIGRATION, primarily. But fewer people are leaving Winnipeg as Alberta’s economy cools off and the Manitoba economy remains relatively stable, says city economist Georges Chartier.
The Winnipeg CMA also took an artificially large jump because the Rural Municipality of MacDonald is now included in the city’s metropolitan area.
But that only accounted for about 5,000 new people out of the 18,500-person increase over the previous estimate.
What exactly is the Winnipeg CMA?
METRO Winnipeg is comprised of the City of Winnipeg plus 11 other political jurisdictions where more than half the workforce is employed in the city: the rural municipalities of Rosser, St.
Francois-Xavier, Headingley, MacDonald, Ritchot, Tache, Springfield, West St. Paul, East St. Paul and St. Clements, plus Brokenhead First Nation.
The Winnipeg CMA does not include Selkirk, Stonewall and the rural municipalities of St. Andrews, Rockwood and Cartier.