A 'Troubling' Number Of Young People Have Left Alberta For Other Cities & Here's Why

But could Calgary be the new Austin, Texas?

The Calgary skyline.

The Calgary skyline.

A new study has found that a "troubling" number of young people are leaving Alberta for other Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver due to old perceptions of what the province has to offer.

A new report on the migration of young people, led by the Canada West Foundation, looked at the net out-migration from the province of people aged 25 to 29 between 2015 and 2021. The numbers since 2016 show there has been a net loss of people in this age group by 1,133 per year.

The report also listed a number of recommendations for Albertan communities to turn things around, adding that they have the opportunity to appeal to young people in the same way as Austin, Texas.

"Alberta had 9% fewer 25 to 29-year-olds in 2021 than in 2016. Combined with Alberta’s aging population, this trend of more young adults leaving the province than moving to it is troubling," the report said.

Looking into the reasons why Alberta is proving to be less popular for young people, the report highlights that there is a perception the province "does not offer a breadth of career choices [...] lacks vibrancy, and that there is a lack of inclusion of diversity."

The report also highlighted that a lot of young people, both in and out of Alberta, have negative associations of the province with "oil and gas" and is "[...] conservative, [...] and intolerant." At least, youth also seems to associate the Wild Rose Country with nature in a positive way.

But according to the report, Alberta has a lot more to offer such as diverse career opportunities, parks and nature trails, vibrant cities, and affordable housing, and Calgary is actually the third most diverse city in the country, it continued.

"There is a big gap between perception and reality. Consequently, some doubt they have a future here," the report added.

To combat the downward trend, Canada West Foundation said it's important to recognize that young people across Canada want to "work to live" and said plans to encourage young people to stay in the province should revolve around careers and communities.

For careers, the province needs to prepare young people to move away from old, routinized jobs in traditional sectors that are replaced by technology from education onwards.

Some ways to Alberta can look to create more vibrant communities could be to build better transit systems and create more walkable and bikeable areas.

"Like Austin in Texas, communities in Alberta must take the opportunity to remake themselves in ways that appeal to youth – making Alberta a place to move and stay," it said.

Charlie Hart
Charlie Hart was a Travel Creator for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Calgary, Alberta.