The local metropolitan area was listed by StatsCan as now having a population of 349,718. The Windsor census data includes Windsor, Tecumseh, LaSalle and Amherstburg.
“The growth for Windsor is pretty high historically speaking,” said Claudine Provencher, analyst with Statistics Canada.
“When you look at 2006-07, the growth around that time was negative or low. (Windsor) was at the bottom of the list.”
The latest data measures population growth from July 1, 2017 until July 1, 2018.
Peterborough was listed as Canada’s fastest growing city at a 3.1 per cent increase, followed by Kitchener-Waterloo at 2.6, then both Ottawa and Windsor at 2.5.
London was just behind as the fifth fastest-growing urban centre at 2.4 per cent.
Perhaps as no surprise, Provencher listed “international migration” as being the driving force behind the population spike for the local region.
This city’s net increase within that immigration sector, which also includes non-permanent students and foreign workers, was an added population of 6,307 compared to the year before.
“You also received an increase of people coming from outside the province and within the province from other regions,” she said.
The median age for the Windsor area is listed by StatsCan at 41.1 — slightly above the national average of 39.5.
Windsor was in the middle of the pack for each age breakdown of population in comparison with other cities with 16 per cent aged 14 years or younger, 17.4 per cent aged 65 and older and 66.6 per cent aged 15 to 64.
Given the data includes towns outside of Windsor, it’s difficult to know exactly how much the city’s population has gone up compared to Essex County counterparts included in the census report, said Frazier Fathers, who tracks population data as director of continuous improvement for United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.
“It might mean the county is growing like gangbusters and the city only a little,” he said. “It’s hard to say.”
Whether it’s new immigrant arrivals, residents moving to this city from out west or relocating here to escape the high cost of living in the GTA, he believes affordable housing has been the major factor in the city’s skyrocketing growth.
“We know you have an influx of some seniors or retirees coming to this region because the cost of housing forced them out of the Toronto area and they have put down roots here,” Fathers said. “You also have some businesses coming here due to lower costs, as well.”
The Star reported earlier this week how the Windsor region in 2018 had a record number of businesses operating at 22,228 — an increase of almost 2,000 from 2012.
In terms of immigrants coming to this region, Fathers believes word of mouth about this city’s multicultural mix and being a welcoming community, along with lower cost of living has become a product of its own success in attracting more residents from other nations.
“Windsor has become a landing community for the newcomer population,” he said. “We now have an established population of newcomers who may be sharing information back to their home country — their friends or relatives — they should also come to Windsor.”
Canada overall continues to become more urbanized with 26.5 million people living in metropolitan area as of July 1, 2018, said the StatsCan census report.
The nation’s three largest urban centres — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — are now home to over one-third of Canadians (35.7 per cent).
Meanwhile, London’s growth last year was 150 per cent greater than the sluggish annual rate generally expected over the past generation: The London region has averaged less than 1 per cent growth since 2001. But between 2017 and 2018 the population grew by 2.4 per cent and now sits at 532,984 as of last July, Statistics Canada said.
The last time the London region saw this pace of growth was more than 25 years ago, when the population grew by 2.7 per cent in 1991.
With files from the London Free Press.