Building a Great City

Have you ever passed by a residential construction site and wondered if your neighbourhood has as much construction as other neighbourhoods?  Have you wondered if “that” neighbourhood really is as up and coming as a friend has told you?  Have you ever walked down a street and noticed that there are a lot of kids out and about?  Most of us have thought about these things, but might not have been sure how these activities translate to City initiatives and growth.  One City document, “Our Growing City” the 2015 Growth Monitoring Report, can help answer, explain and analyze development and demographic-related activity in Edmonton.

Released in July, the 2015 Growth Monitoring Report provides analysis of trends and data about how Edmonton has been growing over recent years and decades, with a focus on the most recent data obtained in 2014. It shares how we did this past year, and illustrates emerging trends.  The Report includes Edmonton’s place in the region, demographics, land use and development, transformational projects and an information portal.

So what did we learn through the 2015 Report and what are some of the highlights?

The Report shows us that growth has not been uniform all over Edmonton over the past four decades or even over the past year.  In the long term (past four decades), the population of our core, mature and established neighbourhoods has declined.  Over the past year however, development occurred throughout the City, with the majority occurring in the developing neighbourhoods .

We are building the City together, following a shared vision that guides our policies and investment choices to accommodate growth while preserving our unique quality of life.

Why are some neighbourhoods experiencing declines or plateaus while others are flourishing?  Each neighbourhood experiences a change in their populations as they move through a neighbourhood life cycle.   The life cycle we usually hear most about is the human life cycle, which has four stages:  birth, growth, maturity and death.   A neighbourhood too goes through a similar life cycle.  When the neighbourhood is young, it attracts young families with children, the streets are vibrant, the schools are full, neighbourhood commerce is striving,   and then the neighbourhood stabilizes for a while.   After a period of time the children in those families grow up and leave home and the population ages and shrinks overall.  Then neighborhoods reach a critical point, they either continue to experience decline, stabilize or begin to enjoy revitalization and re-population.   As Edmonton grows and our mature neighbourhoods age, we have some key opportunities to help keep them vibrant.   One such way is finding opportunities for infill development which provides homes for new families and arrivals.  Infill development is key to meeting development targets as set by “The Way We Grow” Municipal Development Plan.

GMR_neighbourhood-lifecycle image for Transforming Ed Blog

Did you know:

  • In spite of the sharp decline in oil prices during the second half of 2014, the economies of the Capital Region and Edmonton continued to perform well. Throughout our history there have been rapid periods of growth which increased our population, changed our boundaries and influenced the shape of our communities. This period is no exception.
  • We are a young, dynamic and diverse city.  Edmonton continues to attract young families, newcomers from the rest of Alberta, Canada and beyond.  According to the 2014 Edmonton Municipal Census, the population of Edmonton is 877, 926.  This is an increase 60,426 residents and represents a 7.4% increase since 2012. Our City is growing! (refer to page 23)
  • Nine of the top 10 fastest growing neighbourhoods (in the last five years) are in the south part of Edmonton.  (refer to page 28)
  • Residential densities in planned areas indicate that the City is meeting Capital Region Board density targets.
  • Young families with children are concentrated in the developing areas, Baby Boomers are becoming more and more suburbanized, and Echo-Boomers prefer to live close to where they work and prefer to use active or public transportation. (refer to page 24)
  • Of the 180 ha of vacant land within the central core, mature and established neighbourhoods, 75 ha is currently zoned for residential development. Based on existing zoning, the potential development opportunity would allow for an additional 3,287 dwelling units and potentially 7,725 people. (refer to page 36)

Infill accounted for 1731 units in mature neighbourhoods, which is an 18% increase from growth in the prior year.  Most are apartments, followed by secondary suites and semi-detached units.  (refer to page 55-56)

GMR_net-housing-units image for Transforming Ed Blog

These are just some of the tidbits of information available through the 2015 Annual Growth Report. As more data and analysis becomes available over the coming year it will be published and shared broadly. For folks who want an easy snapshot of how we’re growing,  infographics and fact sheets are available.  For those who want to dig in a little deeper, there are technical reports and Open Data sets to explore.  The final chapter of the report, “Information Portal”, provides readers with direction on what data sets and reports are found within the Growth Analysis’ flourishing web presence.

In our planning and policy work, the numbers tell a story.  We trust that you will find the story, in the Growth Monitoring Report informative and useful. Interested in learning more? Come take a look!


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About the Author
Michlyn Moran
Michlyn Moran is Principal Planner in the Growth Analysis Unit at the City of Edmonton. Prior to her position in Growth Analysis, she worked with Parks and Facility Development, and the Regional Initiatives Project. Before joining the City, she worked with Hostelling International and Parks Canada.
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