Dispatches from the road: Edmonton

The last time I was in Edmonton was in the early 2000s and a lot has changed since.  I hardly recognized the place but I guess that is what happens when you are a fast growing urban centre.

The population has risen by nearly 30% since I last visited.  To put that in context, the Edmonton CMA has added almost the total populations of the Moncton CMA and the Saint John CMA combined in a decade.

Much of this growth has come from immigration and you can tell by walking around here.  At least in the city centre, the number of white faces I saw while walking through the mall, attending the Empire Theatre or eating at a local restaurant were in the minority.

Between 2001 and 2011 the Edmonton area attracted over 90,000 immigrants. There were over 22,000 non permanent residents in 2011 and the community claims to have over 3,000 international post-secondary students.  In total, immigrants make up over 22 percent of the population.  Certainly, immigration is no longer a Montreal-Toronto-Vancouver issue.

This brings up a side issue.  Someone told me that New Brunswick universities are not allowed to promote the possibility of working in Canada for foreign students coming to the university.  I heard they were supposed to sign an agreement saying they would not promote work.

Edmonton is actively promoting the foreign student workforce telling local businesses here it represents a great source of workers.

I need to dig a little deeper to figure out what is going on.

Anyway, I enjoyed my visit.