Increased population comes with challenges

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An increase in population of more than 700 residents over the past five years is good news for Mountain View County, but it also creates some challenges going forward, says Reeve Bruce Beattie.

According to Statistics Canada numbers released on Feb. 8, the population of Mountain View County now stands at 13,074, up from 12,359 in 2011.

“This certainly tells the tale that we are growing,” said Beattie. “It recognizes, I guess, that we do have pressures within our community as to how we continue to attract and provide the services for that growing population.

“People are moving into the rural areas. We continue to focus on how do we protect and preserve land for agricultural use. We are obviously going to see more pressure in terms of residential development. So we have to ensure that our land use policies are current and are responsive to the needs of our electorate.”

Increased population means more pressure on the roads in the county, he said,

“It has an impact on how we develop our road infrastructure,” he said. “That’s why we have over the last few years been trying to make a much more connected group within the county when we talk operations and planning and land use, so that we recognize what roads need to be upgraded. That’s a significant part of our planning process.

“I don’t see any evidence that we will grow more slowly in the next five years, so I think it is a good opportunity to look forward.”

Alberta’s population is now about 83 per cent urban and 17 per cent rural, he said.

“While we are growing, the urban areas are growing even faster,” he said. “We are faced with the same types of issues and we will have to deal with them the same way.

“We have more land use issues. We will deal with them as a community, and that is why it is so important that we have a good working relationship with our municipal partners as we address recreation, culture and infrastructure.”

Asked if there is a downside to having the increased population, he said, “You can see the societal issues that we are going to be faced with that we haven’t been faced with in the past.

“We know there are a lot more issues in the countryside that we are more concerned about now. I think the old days of leaving our houses unlocked and our vehicles unlocked are gone. We are going to have to train ourselves much more (to be) less trusting than we used to be of what is happening in the neighbourhood.

“It’s a change for all of us and we are going to have to adjust to that new reality.”

There are now 5,666 private dwellings in the county and a population density of 3.5 residents per square kilometre, Statistics Canada says.

“It recognizes, I guess, that we do have pressures within our community as to how we continue to attract and provide the services for that growing population.”Bruce BeattieMountain View County reeve

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.