It’s been nearly 15 years since I started doing consulting work in Ontario and you have to tip your hat to the optimism – particularly among the urban centres in the Kingston-Toronto-Windsor Corridor but also extending to Ottawa. I had the opportunity to review all urban centres from Cornwall to Windsor a few years ago and I was surprised at how many municipalities were targeting robust growth – Pickering was planning to double in size within 8 years, as one example.
I just read this morning that the City of Ottawa is planning to add another 400,000 to its population by 2046. That’s a 40% increase over 2020.
To put that into some kind of perspective that would be like the Moncton CMA rising to 220,000 within 25 years or the Saint John CMA to 185,000 within 25 years. If New Brunswick saw that kind of growth, 1.1 million within 25 years from now.
Of course I had argued that New Brunswick should target 1 million within this time frame. In my opinion this would generate strong economic growth over the period and ensure we have the demographic balance and tax revenues to sustainably pay for public services.
It’s one thing for David Campbell to muse.
It would be another for the Saint John CMA to bake this kind of growth in its plan.
Oops. It already did. In the 1970s the plan called for Saint John to grow its population to more than 200,000 by the turn of the millennium.
In other words, we have had ambition in the past.
But ambition met reality and birthed pessimism.
If we bake 0.5% growth into the plan – we just might get what we planned.
Alternatively if we bake 2% growth into the plan – at least we have something to work towards.