Rapid Population Growth Poses Challenges
Saskatoon’s population is expected to reach a record 234,200 by year’s end, making it the fastest-growing city in Canada.
Roughly half of the growth is due to an influx of international immigrants. One-quarter of new residents come from other parts of Saskatchewan and Canada, while new births account for the final quarter, the City of Saskatoon says.
Saskatoon has grown by nearly 6,000 people in 2011, according to City of Saskatoon estimates. The growth rate of 2.5 per cent is the highest in the country and has been consistent for the past five years. The city’s Manager of Planning and Development, Randy Grauer, expects the trend to continue as long as the economy thrives and employment is plentiful. Grauer referred to international migration as the “game-changer”.
Saskatoon will require more than 10,000 new homes in the next three years alone, according to city estimates. Some have questioned why the city is planning to allow more than 80 per cent of that new construction in new suburbs, when there are many opportunities for more efficient, less expensive “infill” projects.
Grauer said the city is proud of its 19 per cent infill rate, saying it’s better than some other cities. He said the city cannot force denser infill development if neighbourhoods don’t want it and most residents who gave input at recent civic forums did favour more infill.