The Waterloo region is the fastest-growing municipal area in Canada, with a 2.8 per cent population growth rate.
That’s according to Statistics Canada, who released their population growth rate by census metropolitan area for 2018-2019.
This growth rate far exceeded that of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
What key factors could be influencing the KW region and its emergent growth rate?
Matthew Chandy, manager for the Region of Waterloo’s Office of Regional Economic Development, stated that “temporary and permanent immigration are key factors in growth rate.”
This population growth is also closely tied to employment rates in the Waterloo region.
Chandy emphasized that “talent attraction and retention continues to be a high priority in the community.
This makes Waterloo region a preferred location for newcomers and others looking for employment opportunities.”
Waterloo’s appeal is further established through its high quality of life factors, which helps to promote the Waterloo region as an attractive candidate to newcomers.
Questions around job stability and housing affordability during a population increase are common, but Chandy said the influx is a net positive.
“We can expect to see a Waterloo region that is becoming more diverse. [Urban] densities, particularly in our urban areas may increase,” Chandy said.
This diversity is certainly attractive for the region to have, but may be unsettling to residents who fear experiencing job loss, a rise in the price of housing, and the city growing congested.
It is possible that job loss may not be a factor of this growth, as Chandy states.
“As we’ve seen with the higher performing labour market, further interest or investment from companies in Waterloo region will create new opportunities for current and future residents.”
The Region of Waterloo is already planning for the influx of new residents, as “The Region does long-range planning to account for future population growth and the corresponding demands. The region currently does land-use planning based on a population projection of 835,000 by 2041,” Chandy said.
The population projection for the Waterloo region will be accommodating to current and future residents, as it also emphasizes “investing in transit (e.g. ION) to ensure residents will be able to easily and efficiently move around the region,” Chandy said.
This focus on transportation will help combat the fears of traffic congestion that could occur due to an increase in the city’s population.
Chandy states that the “Region continues to also advocate for two-way all day GO (Train serevice) to ensure people can move in and out of the region for business and leisure travel.”
This implies that the emphasis on transportation will not only benefit the working professionals of the city, but all its residents that require seamless and efficient transportation.
Immigration is a key factor in the growth rate of the region. The Region of Waterloo’s Immigration Profile, claims that “Net immigration contributes significantly to population growth in Waterloo Region.
In 2017/2018, 32 per cent of population growth was due to immigration.”
It is worth thinking about what is so appealing to newcomers about Waterloo, compared to other municipalities, as well as whether there are any unique challenges for immigrants coming to the KW region.