FROM THE MAYOR'S DESK: Winnipeg Projected to Grow

Today, I announced the release of the City of Winnipeg’s Population, Housing, and Economic Forecast.

This Forecast is intended to guide and support the City of Winnipeg in its planning efforts.

It relies on data from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the Conference Board of Canada which is widely considered the foremost independent, evidence-based applied research organization in the country.

The Forecast provides the City of Winnipeg, as well as Councillors, a common basis and foundation for decision making.

It helps Councilors and city staff to identify economic and planning opportunities – as well as challenges – that might be emerging within the city.

It also provides fundamental information and data on which the next review of OurWinnipeg – the City’s long term planning document – will be based, which is currently scheduled to begin later this fall.

So, what does this Forecast tell us?

Let me provide a couple highlights from my perspective.

First and foremost, this Forecast indicates that Winnipeg’s population is growing.

Not only that, it also indicates that we should all be expecting the City of Winnipeg to chart strong and steady population increases over the next 25 years.

The Forecast indicates Winnipeg’s average annual population growth over the next 25 years is estimated to increase by 8,200 people per year, and that the City of Winnipeg’s Census Metropolitan Area population will exceed 1 million people by the year 2035, and is projected to surpass 1,055,000 by 2040.

The City of Winnipeg, itself, is expected to grow from a population of 718,000 in 2015 to 922,600 by 2040, an increase of over 200,000 people representing a 28 per cent increase.

Winnipeg… is… growing!

And our capital region is growing as well.

And this report underscores the extent to which steady and strong population growth is projected to continue.

As a city, we need to be thinking about and planning today for a future we know is going to create increased demand not only on existing city infrastructure and services, but also demand for new infrastructure and expanded services.

In short, it is not enough to only be building Winnipeg for today. We need to be building Winnipeg for the future.

It is interesting to note that the Forecast identifies that the rate at which Winnipeg’s population grew, beginning in 2005, was significant.

In 2005, our population was growing at a rate of just 0.28% per year. By 2012, our city’s population growth peaked at a rate of 1.73% per year.

This, rate of growth was occurring during a time of property tax freezes and reductions.

So, at a time when our city was growing the fastest it had grown in many, many years, the City’s ability to invest in the required infrastructure to support this growth was limited.

As our population grows, the Forecast indicates that demand for housing will also remain steady.

From 2002 to 2015, the number of households in the City of Winnipeg increased from about 249,000 to approximately 291,000, representing a 17 per cent increase.

Over the next 25 years, the number of households is expected to increase by an additional 100,000, or 32 per cent, with housing starts expected to maintain an annual rate of approximately 4,000 units per year.

This is important, and here’s why…

It demonstrates a strong correlation between population growth and the need for new housing.

What does this mean?

Generally, when a city’s population growth is projected to be strong and steady, its need for housing also remains strong and steady.

And when a city’s population is in decline so too is the demand for housing.

When our rate of population growth stagnated in the early 1980s – and when it dipped into negative growth in 1997 and 1998 – Winnipeg recorded its two lowest levels of annual housing starts in over 25 years.

Today however, Winnipeg is growing and is projected to continue growing over the next 25 years.

And when a city’s population steadily grows, as Winnipeg is projected to do, demand for new housing remains strong, and we need to be planning today, and into the future, for this level of growth.

The Forecast also illustrates how immigration will continue to be the largest single contributor to population growth in Winnipeg over the coming years.

This certainly underscores how immigration will continue to contribute to the diverse and multicultural fabric of Winnipeg.
Our diversity, as a community, will only continue to grow. And it is essential that as a community we continue to welcome new people to our city, and recognize the strength they provide.

The Forecast illustrates that interprovincial migration, which has historically been a major source of population loss for us as a city, as well as provincially, is projected to improve and stabilize over the next 25 years.

This reflects positively on Winnipeg being considered a good place to live, work, invest and raise a family. It short, it shows Winnipeg becoming more of a place to set down roots… and build a life.

And the Forecast corroborates this.

It indicates that the annual growth in Winnipeg’s real Gross Domestic Product will be maintained at about 2.1 per cent per year, and that employment and disposable income are both projected to remain steady and strong well into the future.

In the years following 2008, Winnipeg’s stable, diversified economy has been a beacon of strength. This same economic stability and diversity are what is going to keep us strong over the next 25 years.

Our population is projected to grow strongly and steadily well into the future.

Population growth, above anything else, contributes to a strong and steady demand for housing.

And we need to being planning for this growth today.

Twenty-five years from now, when my children are both over 30 years old, their Winnipeg is going to look very different than our Winnipeg.

In their generation alone, we are projected to achieve population levels that exceed 1 million people, and will be an even more diverse, and more modern city than we are today.

In my view, we need to be building and preparing their Winnipeg, today!