City, AMM discuss Portage la Prairie's growth
Portage city council members and representatives from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities met Friday in Portage la Prairie to discuss the city's impending population growth. Pictured (l-r) Coun. Wayne Wall, Coun. Melissa Draycott, Gavin van der Linde, AMM vp, Ralph Groening, AMM vp, Chris Goertzen, AMM president, Joe Masi, AMM executive director, Martin Harder, AMM Central Region rep, Neil Christofferson, AMM Central Region rep, Portage Mayor, Irvine Ferris. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
For the first time in decades, significant population growth is anticipated for Portage la Prairie.
With over 200 jobs due to be created between the opening of the Roquette plant and expansion of Simplot, Portage la Prairie's population - which has essentially been stagnant since the 1970s - will undoubtedly grow.
Portage city council members met with representatives of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) Friday in Portage la Prairie to discuss what the city needs to do to prepare itself for an inevitable population spike.
"Portage is certainly having a unique opportunity, if you look over the last few decades, Portage has had modest growth. We are seeing that accelerate very quickly now with the announcements that have been taking place over the last number of months," says AMM president, Chris Goertzen, alluding to the Simplot expansion and Roquette plant. "For us as AMM, it was really good to hear how the city is preparing for that, and now our job is to make sure the province is doing that same preparation so that it's smooth for the citizens here."
Council members highlighted several areas of focus that need attention as the city prepares to grow. Specifically the city's infrastructure needs - including both waste water and water - how to prepare for the increase in traffic and the ever-climbing cost of policing.
"This is not the time to relax because we have had a really successful 15 months. Certainly the work ahead will be different but it will be just as important," says Portage la Prairie Mayor, Irvine Ferris. "Planning is key, making sure we have our priorities straight... (We're) trying to anticipate all the challenges (that come) with the unprecedented growth and making sure we have the resources in place. Where we don`t, obviously we`re going to work towards that."
AMM, a provincial lobby group on behalf of municipalities, will take the city's concerns to the province and ensure all levels of government have, or are getting, their proverbial ducks in a row ahead of the billion dollar economic boom.