More housing needed in Vernon as city hits population target well ahead of schedule

Click to play video: 'Vernon hits population target 13 years ahead of schedule'
Vernon hits population target 13 years ahead of schedule
WATCH: The City of Vernon has just announced it has met the population projection of 45,000 people years ahead of schedule, after seeing growth of roughly 2 per cent each year since 2016. As Jayden Wasney reports, the city says its infrastructure has kept up with the demand, but more residential units are needed. – Jan 16, 2024

The City of Vernon says it has hit its population target of 45,000 residents by the year 2036, 13 years ahead of schedule.

“We grew at 1 per cent right from 2011 to 2016,” said Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming.

“Then we got this switch and we moved to double that growth, so the growth has really been double on an annual basis since 2016.”

Cumming adds that the reason for the rapid growth seen in his city is because of the active lifestyle it offers, as well as affordability.

“Very attractive and accessible, so relatively lower costs, and travelling between things like let’s say I want to go golf, it’s a 10-minute decision it’s not a one-hour decision, so that’s one of the differences,” said Cumming.

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“Or, ‘I want to ski.’ Well, you’re less than half an hour from downtown to the parking lot.”

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With growth comes the expectation that infrastructure will need to be replaced or refurbished, but Cumming says the city has stayed on top of it.

“We have upgraded the sewer treatment plant quite substantially, so we’ve got 15 years of growth capacity available to us now, we’ve got a unique situation on water, so that’s been fine, and our roads and sidewalks — those kinds of things have needed some real focus and we’ve really put 10 years of focus into that,” said Cumming.

“We’re also moving forward with our new Active Living Centre, so that’s a new pool, gymnasium, things like that, and that’s really designed to deal with our current growth.”

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The general manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says that while the growth is a welcome sight to the city and the business community, Vernon, like many other cities in Canada, is still facing a housing shortage. He wants to see more homes built before the housing crisis in his city worsens.

“It leaves us in a predicament now where we don’t necessarily have the level of housing that’s needed for all of these people coming to the community, which is a bit of a tricky situation,” said Greater Vernon Chamber general manager, Dan Proulx.

“I know we’re not the only community facing that issue.”

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Cumming says the projected growth in Vernon over the next several years requires roughly 450 new housing units to be added each year — a target he says has only been met in 2022 and 2023.

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“One thing we are doing is infill (housing) — infill has been a critical part for us on the side of housing,” said Mayor Cumming.

“As we move more on infill, we don’t have the same kind of issues with land expansion. A small little house on a large lot is now four homes on a single lot, and there’s room for expansion on infill.”

Cumming said he expects Vernon’s population to continue climbing at that same two per cent rate that started in 2016 for at least the next 10 years.

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