Source: Unsplash

Edmonton saw “electric, migration-spurred, population growth” in 2023, according to a new study released by the Conference Board of Canada. 

Record federal immigration programs and the city’s booming economy are among the reasons behind the discrepancy.

“High federal immigration targets are delivering international newcomers, while the city’s healthy economy and affordable housing is (sic) attracting other Canadians,” highlighted the report.

In October, the Edmonton City Council approved a new zoning bylaw. The previous zoning limited many residential zones to single-family homes. Three-story apartments, townhouses, row houses, and duplexes with up to eight units will now be allowed in any residential area.

Still, housing starts in Edmonton fell approximately 10% between 2022 and 2023. 

Alberta’s peak of housing starts was in 1978, at around 17,000. This peak was mirrored in 2015.  In 2023, that value had fallen by almost 23%. 

The Conference Board of Canada expects a modest uptick of housing starts in 2025, with about a 10% increase by 2028. 

The report explained that the city’s good affordability, continuing employment growth, and easing interest rates point to a strengthening resale market later in 2024.

“Although the near term looks rocky,” read the study.

Edmonton’s population growth hit a new record thanks largely to 47,100 international newcomers, breaking the previous year’s 33,400 arrivals, according to the report.

The growth of international newcomers exceeds Edmonton’s 20-year average of 10,700.

Net-interprovincial migration also hit a record high, at 18,700 people in 2023, well above the 4,000-person average over the previous two decades.

An estimated 17,000 interprovincial migrants arrived in Alberta in the third quarter of 2023, the highest among all provinces. Most of the newcomers came from British Columbia and Ontario, seeking affordable housing.

Interprovincial migration to Edmonton was 4,200 in 2023. This is not a record, but it is above the 20-year average of 3,160 interprovincial migrants.

Additionally, Edmonton’s real GDP will rise by 1.5% in 2024, following a 2.8% rise in 2023. In 2025, Edmonton’s real GDP is expected to grow by 3.4%, with annual hikes of 2.9% between 2026 and 2028. 

“These are decent figures by national standards,” highlighted the study.

Meanwhile, Canadian GDP is expected to rise 0.7% in 2024, 2.3% in 2025, and 2.3% annually between 2026 and 2028. 

In 2023, while Edmonton’s overall employment surged by 5.2%, the construction sector did not keep pace. The sector experienced a contraction, losing jobs despite the city’s increasing demand for housing fueled by the influx of international newcomers and high rate of interprovincial migration.

For 2024, the construction sector is expected to see some recovery, with a projected employment growth of 4.2%, translating to an addition of 3,700 workers, bringing the total to 90,600. 

However, this recovery still leaves the sector more than 10% below its 2015 peak employment of 100,700 workers.

A stronger employment increase is expected in 2025, of 2.7%, led by job gains in construction, professional and technical services, and healthcare services. 

While not a record, Edmonton’s consumer price index—used to measure inflation—rose to a 41-year high of 6.3% in 2022, up from 3% in 2021.