Guelph is a fast growing city, with applications for new apartment buildings and condominiums coming before council on a regular basis.
Now, it appears the area is growing faster than just about anywhere else in the country.
According to new numbers from Statistics Canada, the Guelph census metropolitan area — which also includes Puslinch and Guelph-Eramosa — saw a population growth of 2.2 per cent from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017.
This puts the Guelph area as having the third highest growth among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in Canada, behind only Saskatoon’s 2.8 per cent and Regina’s 2.4 per cent, and the highest in Ontario.
Over the same timeframe, all Canadian CMAs saw a population growth of 1.5 per cent, while areas outside of CMAs came in at 0.5 per cent.
The reasoning behind the sharp increase in Guelph is people moving from other places in Ontario or from abroad.
“The main source of growth is the net intraprovincial migration — so migration within the province. There’s also international migration,” Claudine Provencher, an analyst with Statistics Canada’s demography division, tells the Mercury Tribune.
For movement within Ontario, Provencher says people were mostly coming from the Toronto area.
For international arrivals, Provencher says it is a mix.
“For Guelph, it was mostly immigrants who fed the input of international migration, as well as non-permanent residents,” she says.
“When we talk non-permanent residents, it’s work permits and international student permits.”
The big growth numbers of the city was not a surprise for Mayor Cam Guthrie, adding it likely wouldn’t shock many others.
“I didn’t need the report to tell me what I, and I think the citizens already knew — we are a fast-growing community,” he says.
“I’m pleased that we are growing the way that we are. It means people want to be here, it means people want to live in our city and set up their businesses here.”
While more people wanting to move to the city is a good thing, Guthrie adds that there are some challenges inherent in such growth.
“Protecting our character, our culture, our heritage, the way that our city has that neighbourly and welcoming community feel — it is something that we must always protect as we continue to grow,” he says.
“That is something that can’t always be formulated in policy or reports to council. That is something that is embedded within our DNA — it’s there for myself, it’s there for our citizens that make up our city.”
As for what council can do, Guthrie says the work being done on various master plans, such as those for transportation, waste and water, look at how to improve and potentially change various assets of living in the city so that they remain viable for years and decades to come.
“These are the things that, from a policy perspective, we are not only thinking about and working on as a city council and city staff, but we are engaging with the community to get feedback into those reports as well so that we don’t run into those same items in a more challenging sense … down the road,” he says.