Although 2020 was tough for many, Airdrie showed positive net-migration trends as it cracked the top 20 for “growth cities” in Canada, according to data analysis from U-Haul.
“People coming to Airdrie in one-way U-Haul trucks were down 12 per cent during the past year, but departures were down more – 16 per cent – from 2019 as overall traffic slowed,” the report said.
According to Naga Chennamsetty, the marketing company president with U-Haul’s southern Alberta branch, numbers may have been down overall in 2020, but the moving company’s statistics still indicated more people moved to Airdrie than left the city. He said U-Haul has been tracking migration trends for some time, in order to project how many people are actually coming into or departing an area each year.
“There has been increased activity compared to last year, that means 88 per cent have chosen to stay in Airdrie,” he said.
While specific numbers could not be attributed to the percentages, Chennamsetty said U-Haul tracks these numbers by counting how many of its trucks are making one-way trips to an area.
“More residents are staying and not leaving,” he said. “That directly indicates that more people are choosing to stay in Airdrie. Judging...how much truck activity there is, gives perspective to residents and local government how [moving trends] are going within a city.”
According to the report, arrivals accounted for 52.3 per cent of all one-way U-Haul traffic in Airdrie throughout 2020, placing the city 19th in Canada for netting do-it-yourself movers. Airdrie was not ranked among the top 25 growth cities last year.
Chennamsetty said over the last number of years, Airdrie has continuously shown population growth, mainly due to affordable housing and its proximity to Calgary. The city's population increased from approximately 38,000 residents to more than 70,000 residents between 2009 and 2019, according to the City of Airdrie's website, and it is currently Alberta's fifth most populous city.
“These things really do attract people to live in Airdrie,” Chennamsetty said. “If we introduce a pandemic into a situation, which is what is going on right now, people are also interested in being part of a smaller growing community.”
The credit for landing on U-Haul's list and showing such promising growth, Chennamsetty added, should go to the local government in Airdrie.
“They are managing to sustain the growth Airdrie is seeing,” he said. “These numbers directly represent that they are going in the right direction.”
U-Haul’s report stated the top growth city in Canada is North Bay, Ont. Chennamsetty added while he couldn’t pinpoint the reasons why that city topped the list in 2020, the top communities tend to represent what people are looking for when deciding where to live.
“I do not know if it is that big of a community,” he said. “If it is attracting more people right now, maybe people are choosing to go to smaller communities, which may help them feel a little bit safer.”
North Vancouver, B.C., Kingston, Ont., Belleville, Ont. and the Barrie/Orillia corridor in Ontario rounded out U-Haul’s top five growth cities in 2020.