The Guelph-area is the third-fastest growing community in Canada, and Waterloo Region isn’t far behind.

That’s according to new data Statistics Canada. The agency looked at population growth in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) – areas which group communities around population centres but may not follow municipal boundaries.

There are 33 CMAs in Canada, 15 of which are in Ontario. Statistics Canada estimate the growth in each of them between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

The agency found that the Guelph CMA – which also includes Guelph/Eramosa and Puslinch – saw its population grow by 2.2 per cent in that timeframe, trailing only Saskatoon (2.8 per cent) and Regina (2.4 per cent).

The Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA, which includes those cities as well as North Dumfries, Wilmot and Woolwich townships, saw population growth of 1.7 per cent. That figure was good for 10th place among the 33 CMAs. Ontario CMAs to see a bigger influx of new residents than Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo included Guelph, Ottawa, Toronto and Oshawa.

Population growth of 1.2 per cent was recorded in Brantford’s CMA, which also includes Brant County and Six Nations, or slightly below the average.

By raw numbers, the data estimates that the number of people in the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA grew by 9,114, while the Guelph CMA grew by 3,435 and the Brantford CMA by 1,827.

According to Statistics Canada, slightly more than 70 per cent of Canadians live within a CMA. CMA populations grew from 2016 to 2017 at three times the rate of non-CMA populations.

International migration is considered the driving factor behind CMA population growth, accounting for 78 per cent of the new residents between 2016 and 2017.

With an estimated 527,765 residents as of June 30, 2017, the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA is the 10th-largest in Canada. Guelph and Brantford are two of the country’s eight smallest CMAs.