City hits all time high population
City hits all time high population
City hits all time high population: StatsCan 2016
By Mickey Dumont
Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen phoned Portage la Prairie Mayor Irvine Ferris soon after learning the results of StatsCan’s 2011 population census and crowed, ‘Hey! We caught you.’
Goertzen was referring to when Steinbach reached population parity of 13,000 with Portage. Well Goertzen can still claim bragging rights given the recent StatsCan population census report, but Portage has reached it highest population to date with a +2.4 per cent population increase.
StatsCan revealed in its 2016 census, Portage grew by 308 to an all-time high of 13,304 while the RM of Portage grew by 450, or 6.9 per cent since the last census numbers in 2011.
The city’s growth rate, although upwards, is below the national 5 per cent average, but said. “The gain of 308 is certainly very positive and I think of it as a vote of confidence in Portage,” Ferris said.
The Province of Manitoba recorded the third highest provincial population increase at 5.8 per cent,
Growth came through some immigration and births. “We’re also seeing folks who have left here for Alberta starting to return,” he explained.
Acknowledging Steinbach’s growth, the Portage mayor added, the city must look to immigration to increase its population base. “Steinbach has seen phenomenal growth that can be attributed in large part to strong immigration. Our immigration has been increasing, but not like that in Steinbach. Steinbach offers a lot of employment opportunities and that’s an area that we also need to work and are working on.”
The good-natured ribbing between fellow mayors aside, a growing population is an indication of a vibrant community, a growing community.
A municipality has a never-ending bucket list that is at best a precarious juggling act and generally limited resources available to help keep the eye on the ball.
Much can change between the 2016 census and the next one expected in 2021.
Let’s look at where Portage is today!
New nearly half billion-dollar business to locate here: check!
Beautiful green spaces: check!
Growing population, as previously mentioned, an indication of a vibrant community that is attracting new population: well…I want to say check, but it is a yes and no answer.
Already, we know there will be 120 new decent paying jobs at the recently announced Roquette pea protein extraction plant. There is also a two-year construction period with up to 350 temporary jobs building the new plant and Roquette is already talking Phase II.
The iron is hot – how do you strike?
A new economic development officer has been hired who is armed with some of the best news he can use to get other processors, manufacturers, etc., to look at Portage and area.
There’s nothing like a huge multinational building a new almost half-billion dollar plant to make others pay attention.
Portage la Prairie has a tax problem city hall is struggling with and it needs a diversified and growing tax base to help pull itself out of. It’s a Catch-22. Somehow the city and RM has to maintain momentum. As in the case of Steinbach, job creation brings people – taxpayers to share the load. The men and women responsible for helping entice Roquette here know how to get this done.
Give them the resources to hunt for other puzzle pieces to fit in here. Until then we will continue to wonder how Steinbach recorded 17 per cent population growth to a population today of 15,829 now eclipsing Portage and Winkler growth pegged at 18 per cent jumping to 10,670.
However good-natured ribbing it may be, we don’t want the mayor of Winkler calling us up to say, ‘Hey! We caught you.’