Canadians Moving to Smaller Communities Amid the Pandemic: StatsCan

Canadians Moving to Smaller Communities Amid the Pandemic: StatsCan
A sign advertises a new home for sale in Carleton Place, Ontario in this file photo. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Matthew Trueman
Canadians are continuing to leave large, urban centres amid the pandemic, choosing instead to live in smaller communities near big cities, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

“A record number of people have opted to relocate outside the biggest CMAs [census metropolitan areas],” said the report released Jan. 13 by StatCan’s Centre for Demography.

The report noted Toronto and Montreal saw the largest net losses with 64,121 people leaving Toronto and 39,904 migrating out of Montreal to resettle in other regions of their respective provinces.

For the country’s three fastest-growing communities—Carleton Place, Ont., Cowansville, Qué., and Wasaga Beach, Ont.—StatCan said the main contributor to their growth was “the influx of migrants from elsewhere in their corresponding province.”

According to StatCan, the 15 communities with the highest population growth rates over the past year were:
  1. Carleton Place, Ont. (3.8 percent)
  2. Cowansville, Que. (3.7 percent)
  3. Wasaga Beach, Ont. (3.5 percent)
  4. Woodstock, Ont. (3.1 percent)
  5. Lachute, Que. (2.9 percent)
  6. Collingwood, Ont. (2.9 percent)
  7. Squamish, B.C. (2.5 percent)
  8. Whitehorse, Yukon (2.4 percent)
  9. Arnprior, Ont. (2.3 percent)
  10. Centre Wellington, Ont. (2.2 percent)
  11. Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que. (2.1 percent)
  12. Summerside, P.E.I. (2.0 percent)
  13. Granby, Que. (2.0 percent)
  14. Kentville, N.S. (2.0 percent)
  15. Joliette, Que. (1.8 percent)
StatCan said that the sub-provincial migration data for an entire year of the COVID-19 pandemic indicate “an accelerating trend in migration from large urban centres, leaving their continued growth largely supported by international migration.”

Last year, a separate report released by StatCan said personal health, the ability to work remotely, and high housing prices in urban centres were the major drivers of Canadians’ decision to leave large cities.