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Number of people leaving B.C. for Alberta reaches 20-year high

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The number of people moving from British Columbia to Alberta has reached a 20-year high, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

Data from the 2021-2022 year shows that more than 28,000 people migrated from B.C. to Alberta, the highest total in the past two decades.

Some locals who made the move say affordability was the main reason.

"I wanted to retire and I just couldn't in Victoria," said Kathy Blanchard, who moved to Spruce Grove, Alta.

Meanwhlie, Debra Kahl also transplanted from B.C. to Alberta and has settled in Edmonton.

"It sucked. I left all my friends, all my family, behind except for my one son that came with me," she told CTV News on Thursday.

However, both women say they have no regrets on their choice to leave.

"People need to be able to afford to live," said Blanchard.

Alberta continues to advertise for potential migrants.

"Every jurisdiction is trying to do this, not only in Canada or in North America," said Rajan Sawhney, Alberta’s Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

"It's a global phenomenon now because we have a labour shortage," she said.

Calgary, Alta., is shown. (File Photo)Some B.C. residents have named housing as one of their main frustrations, and that moving to Alberta has meant more money in the bank.

"Who wants their kids to look after them when they're old, right?" said Blanchard.

In Edmonton, Kahl estimates that the home she's has now would rent for about $4,000 a month in the Victoria and Vancouver areas.

Downtown Victoria is shown in this file photo. (CTV News)A recent rental market analysis from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation shows housing availability has improved in Greater Victoria. But vacancy rates suggest it's still easier to find a place in Calgary, and that it will likely cost you less.

"I think it is an evidence to reiterate the fact that we need more supply in the rental market in B.C., in Vancouver and also in Greater Victoria," said Pershing Sun, senior analyst with CMHC.

If you do leave the West Coast for Alberta, you may find there are some trade-offs.

"The produce is not as fresh," said Blanchard.

"The utilities, which was misleading, are horrendous," said Kahl.

While the number of people leaving from B.C. to Alberta has reached a 20-year high, the number of people moving from Alberta to B.C. remains higher, with 29,413 people moving from Alberta to B.C. last year.

However, those who have felt pushed out of B.C. hope policymakers are listening. 

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