We should seek out urban migrants
Give us your wealthy, your stressed, your huddled masses of city dwellers yearning for free parking, smooth commutes and some peace and quiet. Migrants from the big cities could hold the promise of revitalization for the many Eastern Ontario communities that are struggling to cope with stagnating populations and increasing drains on public purses.
Seeking solace from the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle, more and more harried city dwellers will be looking for more affordable place to spend their golden years. And the Celtic Heartland of Ontario is as good a place as any for them to call home.
Evidence of an impending exodus to the rurals is found in a Royal LePage survey. The poll concluded that 17 per cent of Canadian baby boomers, about 1.4 million people who were born between 1946 and 1964, are planning to purchase a new home in the next five years.
The Royal LePage Boomer Trends Survey shows that smaller cities and recreational areas will attract more investment than major cities between now and 2013. Many people believe that they cannot afford to retire in large cities, said Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper.
With the rapid appreciation of home prices in the province, boomers in Ontario are the most likely to consider downsizing as they approach retirement. Almost half (49 per cent) of all respondents said they plan to move into a smaller home as they near or enter their golden years.
As boomers in Ontario plan their retirement, they are also the most likely to consider changing cities as they look for a home they can afford. Forty per cent of respondents stated that they are willing to move to a new city or suburb where homes are more affordable while 32 per cent of those willing to move would consider moving more than an hour away from their current city.
“Boomers in Ontario are looking to reduce expenses as they approach retirement,” said Caroline Baile, a broker with the real estate corporation. “By downsizing to a condo or moving to a more affordable city, boomers are able to tap into the equity in their homes and have more certainty about their costs. They are looking to transition into a lifestyle that gives them more freedom to pursue other activities without having to deal with time-consuming upkeep and unexpected repairs.”
In general, it is cheaper to live in the country and in small villages than in big cities.
But across Canada, rural population has been declining because of low fertility rates, the departure of young people seeking greener pastures in urban centres and the inability to attract immigrants.
As municipalities must continue to maintain water, sewage, waste management services, as well as roads, bridges and culverts, they keep lobbying for more support from the provincial and federal governments.
Fiscally challenged rural communities need relief from ever-growing burdens and reducing tax bases.
There is ample space left in Canada, where about 10.4 million people, or 31 per cent of the population, live in rural areas.
In Ontario, rural residents account for only 20 per cent of the overall population.
With the population aging, and boomers seeking cheaper places to retire, this region could benefit from an influx of city folks. New residents are needed to revitalize rural areas and lighten the load on everyone.
Attracting city dwellers ought to be part and parcel of our economic development strategies.