Cen­sus trends in Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia

Larger towns grow while smaller ones lose res­i­dents

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA

The over­all pic­ture shows the re­gion as a whole is hold­ing steady as far as the pop­u­la­tion is con­cerned, but data from the 2016 cen­sus shows plenty of peo­ple in Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia are on the move.

Re­leased ear­lier this month, the data shows New­found­land and Labrador’s over­all pop­u­la­tion grew ap­prox­i­mately one per cent to over 2011, reach­ing 519,716.

The over­all pop­u­la­tion for The Com­pass’ cov­er­age area is ap­prox­i­mately 41,000, on par with what the data showed for 2011 (this num­ber does not in­clude sev­eral un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties).

How­ever, the vast ma­jor­ity of smaller coastal com­mu­ni­ties are shrink­ing. Data sug­gests towns like Car­bon­ear and Bay Roberts are at­tract­ing at least some of those peo­ple.

On the loop stretching from Salmon Cove to Bay de Verde and all the way down to Heart’s Con­tent, ev­ery com­mu­nity wit­nessed a pop­u­la­tion de­cline. It was much the same for other Trin­ity Bay com­mu­ni­ties, with some no­table ex­cep­tions. White­way, Green’s Har­bour and Blake­town all grew, at­tract­ing some­where in the neigh­bour­hood of 100 ad­di­tional res­i­dents each.

For towns with a pop­u­la­tion al­ready ex­ceed­ing 1,000 res­i­dents, Clarke’s Beach went up the most, in­creas­ing its pop­u­la­tion com­pared to 2011 by 11.6 per cent to 1,558 res­i­dents. That rep­re­sents a 20.9 per cent in­crease from 2006, when fewer than 1,300 lived in the Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­nity.

“It’s good to feel and know the town is sta­ble, and that’s one of the things that’s been talked about so much,” Mayor Betty Moore told The Com­pass last week. “Are towns and ar­eas able to sus­tain them­selves? Are peo­ple will­ing to come and move in and live here? In our sit­u­a­tion here in the town, we see that as very pos­i­tive for us.”

Clarke’s Beach is not a town with a lot of ser­vices it­self, but it is next door to Bay Roberts, and St. John’s is a car-ride away for com­muters. Moore said the town has con­cen­trated on im­prov­ing its park ser­vices, know­ing there are young fam­i­lies mov­ing to Clarke’s Beach.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s tax pol­icy may also help its cause. For 2017, it was one of the few mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the re­gion to re­duce its mil rate for home­own­ers, drop­ping it from 6.0 to 5.5. With some debts re­cently com­ing off the books, coun­cil felt it was in a po­si­tion to re­duce taxes while main­tain­ing ser­vices.

“That’s a cost sav­ings for ev­ery­one,” she said.

Bay Roberts, Car­bon­ear still grow­ing

Mean­while, the two largest towns in Con­cep­tion Bay North con­tinue to grow.

Bay Roberts’ pop­u­la­tion now ex­ceeds 6,000 ac­cord­ing to the lat­est cen­sus data, in­creas­ing by 3.3 per cent (al­most 200 res­i­dents). Growth did slow some­what com­pared to 2011, when the town’s pop­u­la­tion in­creased by al­most 400 res­i­dents at a rate of 7.9 per cent com­pared to 2006. Over­all, Bay Roberts’ pop­u­la­tion has in­creased by 19.9 per cent since 2006.

“I sort of ex­pected this be­cause of the sim­ple fact we’ve had ap­prox­i­mately 500 new hous­ing per­mits is­sued in the town the past 11 years,” Mayor Philip Wood told The Com­pass, not­ing this is the third cen­sus in a row the town has ex­pe­ri­enced growth.

With three schools, a va­ri­ety of ser­vices avail­able to res­i­dents and a close com­mute to St. John’s and ma­jor in­dus­trial projects, Wood reck­ons Bay Roberts has a lot go­ing for it when it comes to at­tract­ing res­i­dents.

Car­bon­ear is in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Mayor Ge­orge Butt Jr. men­tioned the hospi­tal as a sig­nif­i­cant as­set for the town when it comes to at­tract­ing re­tirees and older res­i­dents. Like Bay Roberts, it also has a va­ri­ety of shops (in­clud­ing three gro­cery stores), two schools in the K-12 sys­tem and a Col­lege of the North At­lantic cam­pus.

“We’re the busi­ness core of the whole area,” the mayor told The Com­pass.

Car­bon­ear’s pop­u­la­tion in­creased by 2.5 per cent to 4,858 in the 2016 cen­sus. That’s a con­sid­er­able jump over the pe­riod from 2006 to 2011, when the town’s pop­u­la­tion grew by a mere 0.3 per cent.

With pop­u­la­tions con­tin­u­ing to de­cline in most ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, Wood con­tends there’s a strength­ened case for towns to dis­cuss re­gion­al­iza­tion and amal­ga­ma­tion.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult for in­di­vid­ual coun­cils to pro­vide ser­vice and meet the needs and ex­pec­ta­tions of their cit­i­zens,” he said. “With a de­clin­ing tax base, you’re cer­tainly putting more of a bur­den, I feel, on your res­i­dents — many of whom are se­niors. I think we’ve got to come to­gether much faster than we’ve been do­ing.”

Towns rep­re­sented on the Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil are cur­rently form­ing a com­mit­tee to look at the pos­si­bil­ity of putting a ques­tion on re­gion­al­iza­tion to a plebiscite vote this fall dur­ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

Among the larger com­mu­ni­ties in the Trin­i­tyCon­cep­tion- Pla­cen­tia area, two ex­pe­ri­enced no­table de­clines in pop­u­la­tion. Har­bour Grace’s 2016 cen­sus num­bers fell below 3,000, drop­ping from 3,131 in 2011 to 2,995 — a 4.3 per cent de­cline. Pla­cen­tia lost ap­prox­i­mately 150 res­i­dents, fall­ing to 3,496 (-4.0 per cent). In 2006, Pla­cen­tia had a pop­u­la­tion of al­most 3,900.

With a de­clin­ing tax base, you’re cer­tainly putting more of a bur­den, I feel, on your res­i­dents — many of whom are se­niors. — Mayor Philip Wood

TC ME­DIA FILE PHO­TOS

Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore.

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

Car­bon­ear Mayor Ge­orge Butt Jr.

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