The City of Calgary has released its census numbers for 2018, and the numbers are strong. Calgary's population as of April 2018 when the census ended was 1,267,344 people - an increase of 21,007 people. The increase is almost double last year's increase of 11,166 people and almost 5 times the increase of 4,256 from the 2016 census.

Stephen Avenue Mall, image via Kevin Cappis

While the increase is almost half the record increase of 38,508 people of 2014, the numbers are considered to be strong by many, including Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “We’re actually operating at what I would call a healthy level of growth,” said Nenshi. “A level of around 20,000 really provides enough growth and progress in the city and investment in the city, but also allows us to keep up with infrastructure.”

As with the census every year, the numbers contain stories. Most notable is the fact that the population increase is double last year's, but there's also a story behind that growth. This year's larger population increase is directly  attributed to an increase in net migration (net migration = the difference between people moving to Calgary, and people moving away from Calgary). Last year's net migration was a gain of only 974 people compared to 11,588 this year. In essence, there are now more than 10X the amount of people choosing to remain in the city rather than leave. 

Quick glance at the overall numbers, image via City of Calgary

The city's natural increase was slightly lower at 9,419, compared to 10,192 the previous year, but consistent with numbers from previous years.

Another key story from this year's census is the amount of growth in the city's Beltline neighborhood. It was Calgary's fastest growing neighborhood adding 1,668 residents, for a total of 24,887 residents. What's important to note here, is that the Beltline is an established neighborhood, and that kind of growth for an established neighborhood is indicative that a growing number of Calgary's residents are seeing the benefits of Calgary's evolving inner city.

Aerial view of vertically booming Beltline, image via Kevin Cappis

The Beltline's strong increase reflects a trend in Calgary where inner city neighborhoods in general are growing, and almost all inner city neighborhoods are showing increases in population. The vast majority of growth in Calgary is in inner city neighborhoods or in newly built greenfield developments. The growth in greenfield neighborhoods is to be expected, but the strong growth in inner city neighborhoods is a pleasant surprise.

Population change map of inner city communities, image via City of Calgary

Each year the census provides numbers that are used by the city for planning infrastructure and services, and we will continue to report on the Calgary Civic Census every year. To keep up to date or to join in on the discussion check out our forum related thread.