BROCKTON – Daniel Kingsbury, Bruce County planner, and Jamie Cook of Watson and Associates, presented the county’s growth management strategy under the heading of “Plan the Bruce.”
This included an overview of the county’s projected growth over the next 25 years.
The interim report was released in March; consultation with industry stakeholders took place in May and additional data was received.
Cook said that throughout the consultation, a common theme emerged – the housing growth outlook for Bruce County was too low and should be revised. Further review indicated there is a stronger short-term and longer-term growth outlook right across the county than was previously reported.
Using the middle of three projections (low, medium and high), the population of the county is projected to increase by 7,400, housing by 3,300 and employment by 2,500 by 2046.
Brockton’s population is now anticipated to increase by 3,500 new residents, not 1,400 as identified in the interim report.
The number of new jobs had been forecast to increase by 970 between 2016 and 2046; that number has been changed to 1,670 new jobs.
All area municipalities including Brockton have enough urban land to accommodate growth over the next 15 years. However, urban land needs over the next 25 years will need ongoing monitoring and should be looked at every five to 10 years, Cook said.
He noted the change in growth pattern began before the pandemic, around 2015, with “declining house affordability in the Golden Horseshoe.”
The pandemic has intensified that trend.
There has been a steady shift in structure type, to a broader range of medium- and high-density housing (from single-family houses to townhouses and apartments).
The increase in population will result in an increase in population-related jobs, for example, retail, but there’s also predicted growth in industry.
Coun. James Lang asked where the hamlets – Chepstow, Cargill, Elmwood – fit in.
Cook said the growth projections were laid out for urban areas, i.e., communities with water and sewer. “The focus is on municipal services,” he said. Only moderate growth is predicted for what he termed “secondary settlement areas” such as the ones Lang mentioned.
Lang noted that Brockton, like other municipalities, was formed through amalgamation. He’d like to see Chepstow, Cargill and Elmwood, which will be getting natural gas, given the same attention by the county as Walkerton.
Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak asked that council’s interest in the smaller communities be communicated to the county. Gieruszak also stressed the importance of the agricultural industry to Brockton.
Coun. Dean Leifso noted that regarding Elmwood, “it’s hard to talk about it without involving West Grey.”
Cook said, “We have noted the importance of rural (areas) and hamlets … those areas do need a certain amount of growth.” He also noted that this is “only the beginning of the Official Plan review.”
Coun. Steve Adams repeated what’s been said at other meetings, that 25 years seems to be a very long time to be planning for. “I do like the idea you’re going to monitor (growth patterns).”
Adams asked where the growth in Bruce County is coming from. “Is it organic or from outside?”
The answer was that growth is coming from outside, primarily the greater Golden Horseshoe area including Waterloo. The local birth rate isn’t high enough to produce the kind of growth this area has been seeing or will see. COVID-19 pushed the trend for telecommuting from an area where housing is more affordable.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times