Thursday, February 22, 2024

Response to Building Density Editorial

Editor,

We are writing in response to your article entitled, “Why Small Towns and Suburbs Need to Build Up, Not Out.”

The Growth Forecasts to 2046 for Grey County were presented on Thursday, July 22, at the Grey County Council meeting. The study by Hemson Consulting raises some interesting questions.

Town of the Blue Mountains is expected to grow its population significantly in the next 25 years – more than 28% of the forecasted increase in the County’s population by 2046 will likely settle in TBM. Meaford, on the other hand, is expected to take just 7% of the growth. These numbers are relevant when determining Meaford’s future housing demand.

The Hemson Growth Forecasts were completed during the Covid-19 pandemic, when an exodus of GTA residents were flocking to small towns in Ontario. The consultant explained they did consider this migration and engaged in detailed discussions with municipal staff to ensure the study wasn’t overlooking anything important in making the growth forecasts.

After considering all factors, the growth forecasters believe Meaford can expect to grow from 11,800 people in 2021 to 13,480 by 2046.

Therefore, unless something dramatic happens (more than a world-wide pandemic), Meaford is expected to add about 1,680 people to its population over the next 25 years.

That works out to an average of 67 new residents in the Municipality of Meaford per year.

This leaves some important questions for the Municipality. How many new homes will be required in light of the new growth projections? Does Meaford have an up-to-date housing inventory? How will Meaford encourage new tourism businesses here and entice ‘early retirees’ from urban centres to come live here? These factors, according to Hemson, drive economic growth. Answering the above questions could help inform decisions about which development opportunities the Municipality needs to focus on.

From our perspective, it appears there may be a disconnect between the numbers from Hemson’s Growth Study and a call for more density (and high-rise buildings) when Meaford’s population is not predicted to grow all that much.

Meaford might have to face the reality that higher heights and density may eventually come to small towns, including this one. However, the population pressures facing suburbs in York Region and Peel Region — about which Don Pittis’s excellent CBC article was written — are not pressing issues here. Not yet, anyway.

Katherine Haggart , Imagine Meaford

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