BMA study reveals population density an ongoing issue in C-K

·2 min read

A recent report suggests despite Chatham-Kent’s population increasing, it is not enough to keep up with the ongoing challenge of covering the municipality’s infrastructure costs.

This is according to a report from BMA Management Consulting Inc., which released its 2020 municipal study for Chatham-Kent. The company studies the financial position of major municipalities across the province.

The study was presented to Chatham-Kent council last week and showed the municipality’s population is estimated to have increased since the last census was completed in 2016. But due to Chatham-Kent’s large geographical size, population density continues to pose a challenge when it comes to the tax burden for shared costs like infrastructure.

According to the study, Chatham-Kent’s population density is 43 people for every square kilometre of land (2,458 km²). Of the 110 other municipalities in the study, the average population density was 549 residents per km².

The study also revealed that Chatham-Kent’s average household income for 2020 was $80,595, which was ranked the 12th lowest out of the 110 municipalities in the survey. The study average was $107,715.

“Chatham-Kent has a low population density, meaning there are fewer people to pay for the required infrastructure and services such as roads, bridges, water and wastewater over wide geographic areas,” said Manager of Revenue Amy McLellan.

She added this poses a significant challenge for the municipality as a small population has to maintain a large area of land.

Also noted in the study was Chatham-Kent’s financial position, which has been trending upwards over the past decade. As it stands, it is currently sitting at $1,509 per capita, which was above the survey average of $687 per capita. This is measured by the total municipal assets minus financial liabilities.

Additionally, the way the municipality manages its finances also looked promising. The study showed that for every 40 cents of debt, Chatham-Kent has $1 of reserves, compared to the survey average of 80 cents of debt per $1 of reserves.

When it comes to property taxes, Chatham-Kent is above average. Property taxes in the municipality for a two storey home averaged around $4,886 versus the study average of $4,714.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News