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Region now among top 5 big urban areas in Canada for immigration

The region welcomed nearly 28,000 new immigrants from 2016-2021, twice the number in the five years previous

The Region of Waterloo is in the midst of an immigration boom.

From 2016 to 2021, Statistics Canada says nearly 28,000 new immigrants have taken up residence in the region — twice as many as in the five years prior.

That also means the Waterloo region is now among the top five big urban areas in the country when it comes to immigration and, with that boom, a boon for the character of the region itself.

"Growing immigration brings many, many benefits to this community that we see by way of greater diversity, contributions to arts, contributions to culture, immigrants are employed across businesses in this region, they own businesses and employ other people and contribute to our community in many, many ways," said Tara Bedard, executive director of the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership.

That said, with all the growth Bedard does admit it's tough to avoid a few growing pains.

"As we all know, we here in Waterloo region and across the country are experiencing challenges when it comes to having enough housing for everybody, overall, and especially housing that is affordable and appropriate to changing populations," Bedard said.

"And we also see, when we look across our healthcare settings, they are really stretched beyond capacity and quickly growing the population, it adds to that pressure."

That said, Bedard noted those challenges aren't necessarily linked to immigration itself but to the growth of the community as a whole - though it is something the region will need to consider as it continues to plan for the future.

"So that, as the plans are developed and the housing rolls out, and same in the healthcare space, that what we are creating is suited to the population as it is changing."