Editorial – Perception vs reality in falling behind

A presentation before South Dundas Council November 13 offered projections on population growth in SDG Counties and the six lower-tier municipalities within it, including South Dundas. The numbers, based on Statistics Canada data among others, showed that the Counties overall are growing and will continue to grow slowly but more steadily than the national rates. The statistics shown in this report highlight some alarming indicators towards long term growth in South Dundas making us reflect on the perceptions in the community, compared to the reality.

One of the segments presented focused on residential growth projections. Look around South Dundas: it looks like there are new homes being built across the municipality. It feels like there are a lot of new people in our communities. Our villages are growing. That is the perception. In reality for the next 15 years our population will grow at a compounded rate of 0.2 per cent per year according to this report. It is growth, but not unlike what we already have seen in the past 15 years. The projected numbers point to less than 500 new residents here in that time. By comparison, neighbouring North Dundas will grow by three times this amount in the next 15 years.

Linked with residential growth is permanent housing growth by area. We have the lowest projected growth in the Counties. Between 2021 and 2051, it is projected that South Dundas will grow by 760 housing units. North Stormont, the lowest populated municipality in SDG has 40 per cent fewer people living there. It is projected to grow by 762 housing units in the same period. Our neighbours in South Stormont and North Dundas are projected to grow by 1,851 and 1,812 housing units respectively. Clearly our neighbours are carrying everyone else.

Most concerning for South Dundas is the employment growth – namely the lack thereof. The perception is with new businesses and facilities announced here, that South Dundas’ businesses are growing and we are doing well. The projections presented do not back that up. South Dundas is projected to have a 0.7 per cent compounded annual decrease in jobs over the next 15 years. That means more than 500 fewer jobs here in South Dundas by 2036.

This report shows a lot of positives for SDG, namely steady residential growth. But this report is anything but positive for South Dundas. Our perceptions of growth are not being met by the reality of the numbers and future projections. As the taxation burden continues to grow, along with inflationary pressures, South Dundas needs more residential growth to help carry the weight. In order to grow that residential base, there must be increased – not decreased – employment opportunities in our community. The perception is that we are doing well. In reality, we are not keeping up with others – or even staying status quo. We need to find creative ways to make these projections presented to council wrong.

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