EMRB plans for one million more people by 2050

EMRB plans for one million more people by 2050

· The Pulse

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board is reviewing its plan for how the region grows in the future, and how it can accommodate a lot more people and jobs, but also retain agricultural land.

"There's no one else doing the work of planning for what it means to add another million people and 470,000 jobs in less than 25 years, and how the decisions that we make today will affect the future of this region for the next generation and generations to come," EMRB board chair and mayor of Parkland County Allan Gamble told Taproot.

The region's population growth is unprecedented. An Edmonton Global report released in January says the Edmonton region experienced its highest-ever migration in 2022, welcoming more than 45,000 new residents, with 33,000 of them international newcomers. That report forecasts 29,000 new residents to move into the region this year alone, and a total regional population of 1.7 million within four years.

The EMRB is nearing the end of work on a five-year interim review of its growth plan, the document that guides how its 13 municipal members collectively grow. The province approved the original plan in 2017. The current review work was started in 2022 and culminates with potential amendments that could be proposed by this coming fall or winter.

The review has also been expanded to look at existing major employment areas and mechanisms to add future ones, as well as the EMRB's Regional Agriculture Master Plan. The review's scope was broadened in June. The decision was partly inspired by friction between board members on developing the Villeneuve Airport Area related to major employment areas.

"The two components are very much interconnected and are the complete focus of the regional growth study," Gamble, who is the first rural mayor to chair the board, said. "The primary objective is to better understand the rate at which land is being absorbed, and the future land supply needed to accommodate the recently updated population, employment, and dwelling unit projections."

An EMRB report published in August offers these projections. The EMRB's 13 municipalities had a combined population of 1.48 million people in 2021. By 2050, the report forecasts that the population will grow to between 2.01 million and 2.63 million people. On employment, the report estimates that the region will have between 1.01 million and 1.36 million jobs by 2050, up from the 763,000 jobs it had in 2021.

The board will work to determine terms of reference for a comprehensive 10-year growth plan review immediately after this interim review wraps. The larger review begins in 2027.

Photo: The EMRB is working to balance the preservation of agricultural land while reviewing its major employment areas during a review of its growth plan. (Sturgeon County/Flickr)