Perth County population expected to grow to over 60,000 by 2051, forecast

A new growth study by economic consultancy Watson and Associates shows that Perth County’s population is expected to grow from just over 42,000 to over 60,000 by 2051.

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Based on their growth forecasts, consultants at Watson and Associates Economists predict that Perth County’s population will grow from its current population of just over 42,000 to around 60,400 over the next three decades.

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This discovery was part of a comprehensive review of recent trends in population, employment and housing growth used to develop a 30-year forecast to help planning staff determine the amount of land needed in the new Perth County’s official plan for residential and employment growth over the period. next 25 years.

Presented to councilors on Thursday, the forecast also called for around 8,600 new homes, or around 286 new homes per year, by 2051, as well as estimated economic growth of around 9,500 new jobs, or an average of 380 new jobs per year. year. Of these 9,500 new jobs, approximately 66% are expected to require land for associated businesses, while 34% are expected to be jobs without a fixed workplace or in a work-from-home environment.

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Commissioned by the council in late summer 2021, the updated projections were based on information, including five years of building permit data and an inventory of vacant land, collected by county municipal staff and lower level.

“The Board at the time felt that the 2020 (growth projections) may need updating given the (pandemic) circumstances at the time and the rapid growth rates we seem to be experiencing… so the data accompanies new census information released earlier this year and the Department of Finance’s population projections and economic trends,” said County Planning Director Sally McMullen.

While consultants have yet to calculate land requirements for future residential and commercial growth in Perth County, data from Thursday’s meeting sparked a conversation about the need for more residential intensification and development. high density to protect prime agricultural land from development.

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“(This) growth is quite scary because it will take a lot of good planning to get this growth and protect our farmland,” the councilor said. said Bob Wilhelm. “Perth County is primarily agricultural. If you look at the numbers, you’re probably looking at 3,000 acres over the next few years to come out of production for development, so we have to have good planning and certainly improve the density to accommodate both.

Agreeing on the need for further intensification, the council. Doug Eidt noted that council had recently approved subdivision plans for a number of proposed residential developments across the county that fall short of those ideals, including two applications earlier this same meeting.

“We just walked past huge housing lots because (policies to meet these standards) are not in the (current) official plan,” Eidt said. “The elephant in the room is that we just did something that I would consider wrong and now we have someone telling us that we have to totally change our thinking. … We’re giving big prizes, then the next thing we say is, “We need to have a higher density.”

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McMullen said the county’s current official plan does not contain policies that require developers to meet higher intensification and density standards. While she said some residential developers have worked with planning staff to achieve higher densities and more affordable housing in new developments, others have not.

“Because we haven’t planned where these (new growth) areas will be on the ground, we also don’t have these policies in place to help us curb them and be kind of more forceful and clear about intensification and densities,” McMullen said. “So we’re both operating in this world where we’re trying to plan a better way to do it and practice it at the same time that we’re experiencing a high level of demand (for new developments) and we have to evaluate those on the policies we have in place now.

The sooner the county’s new official plan is completed by staff and adopted by council, the sooner council and staff can begin implementing these practices, McMullen said.

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