Saturday, February 11, 2012

Population Growth and Midland

Statistics Canada published its population data this week.  It shows Midland with a five year population increase to 2011 of some 1.5% - an increase of 242 people over the last 5 years.  This slow rate of growth is consistent with our recent history. In fact the 2011 figure represents only 225 more citizens today than were enumerated in 1996.  So we have had very slow population growth - but what does it mean to Midland?
The majority of Midland’s tax revenue comes from individual resident taxpayers. The increase in the number of residents in our community reflects the increase in the number of taxpayers, and hence our collective ability to pay tax.  Over the past 5 years the amount of tax paid by all sources has increased by 30%.  Recognizing that inflation is at play (and hence the value of a dollar is reduced) the 2011 tax amount should be adjusted by the inflation rate - 2% a year or 10%.  So taking out inflation and growth, roughly the same population is paying 18% more in 2011 over 2006, for a real tax rate increase of some 3.5% per year. This is one factor guiding Council’s intention to get our municipal costs under control.
The census numbers also speak to the health of Midland’s economy and the jobs available for our residents.  One of the main reasons that people move into or out of a community is to find work.  That is why Ontario’s rate of population growth is decreasing while Alberta’s is increasing. Population growth reflects the growth of the economy and jobs. Midland’s rate of growth is well behind that of Simcoe County’s five year rate of 5.7%.  While Midland has no number that tracks our local economy it’s evident that our economy is growing much more slowly than many other parts of the County.  Having a healthy competitive economy and jobs are critical to the health of our community. This is why Council identified economic development as its top priority.
The census numbers are not the whole story. But they are a useful commentary on why we must adjust our municipal and economic policies to ensure Midland’s future.

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