County sees six per cent population growth
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | February 16, 2017|
Better than average growth is expected to continue in Haliburton County, local politicians say following the release of population and dwelling counts in the 2016 census.
On Feb. 8, it was revealed the county’s population has increased 5.9 per cent, or by 1,006 people. The national average is five per cent and the provincial average 4.6 per cent.
The growth is largest in Minden Hills, at 7.7 per cent, followed by Algonquin Highlands (7.5 per cent), Dysart (5.3 per cent) and Highlands East (2.9 per cent).
“Haliburton County is experiencing a growth cycle,” County Warden and Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin said in an interview. “We are in the right place at the right time.”
He credited it in part to tourism initiatives that have generated 55-plus million impressions in the last year.
“Our lakes and habitat are becoming more important to people,” he said.
With the extension of Highway 407 to Highway 35/115 by 2020, the warden thinks that will spur even more growth.
“We are already seeing that the rate of growth is accelerating. In the next 10 years, the growth along the Highway 35 corridor extending to Haliburton County will be significant,” he said.
The census also reported that the number of homes and cottages being occupied year-round in the county has increased by 10.5 per cent, meaning an additional 810 dwellings are now being used as full-time homes. The number increased from 7,633 (34.6 per cent) to 8,443 out of 21,113 (38.8 per cent)
With that comes challenges, Devolin said, such as the affordability of delivering services to the influx of full-time residents.
Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey agreed it’s a good news, challenging news story.
“It is very positive that there has been 5.9 per cent growth in Haliburton County,” he said in an interview. However, he said it is also “concerning” because municipalities have to provide things such as health care and transportation to these people.
He said in Haliburton, about one-third of people make a full-time move into the village but two-thirds are moving to lakes and that means longer distances for ambulance calls, for example, which puts more pressure on the system.
“The challenge is, can you provide the services with the growth? I think we can.”
Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt said, “We’re pleased with the growth shown and are happy to have 165 more folks call Algonquin Highlands their home. This data, combined with our building department reports, illustrates that we’re consistent in attracting permanent residents.”
Addressing some of Devolin and Fearrey’s concerns, she added, “We don’t want too much (growth) too fast, so as long as it’s going up, we’ll take it.
“Regardless of whether the growth is in young families or in seasonal folks moving up full-time, it’s good news for the municipality and for the county. Construction means jobs, a new generation is always a good thing, and retirees bring experience and knowledge to businesses and volunteerism.”
Highlands East Reeve Dave Burton said the township was disappointed that it received a lower percentage of growth than neighbouring municipalities, however, “we are still happy to see growth.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.