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Halifax suburbs see fast growth from development boom: planner

Click to play video: 'Census shows growth in Halifax Regional Municipality booming in the suburbs' Census shows growth in Halifax Regional Municipality booming in the suburbs
Latest Statistics Canada data shows Bedford West population nearly doubled between 2011-2016 – Feb 9, 2017

When it comes to the fastest growing community in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Bedford West leads the pack, with the population nearly doubling in size in the past five years, according to the latest census data from Statistics Canada.

READ MORE: Census 2016: Halifax sees uptick in population, still lower than national growth rate.

“Fall River and Bedford West, the areas where we’ve been planning for growth, we’ve seen that growth,” said Bob Bjerke, Halifax’s chief planner.

The data shows a population increase of about 46 per cent for the fast-growing community.

Area Coun. Tim Outhit believes the area’s diverse residential options and amenities is what attracts people.

“It offers inexpensive homes, expensive homes. It offers condos, apartments, single family dwellings, good schools, good recreation facilities.”

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But Outhit said there’s concern throughout his constituency for improved infrastructure changes, in particular regard to transportation.

“The young families that are moving here are not saying, ‘Outhit when are you going to widen the bicentennial highway?’ They’re saying, ‘when are we going to get the answers on rail and ferries, when is the park and ride going to open, when are we going to see more transit?'” he said.

Bjerke said the census data released so far is helpful, but when it comes to issues like transportation, it’s the breakdown of demographics that helps direct future planning and infrastructure changes.

“This round of census information doesn’t have the details, it’s just kind of giving us the numbers or the starting place. We’re really going to want to dig into the details, the genders, the different ages, all of those sorts of things that give us a much more complete picture,” he said.

Growth between 2011-2016 increased by 3.3 per cent in the municipality, behind the five per cent national average.

READ MORE: Cape Breton among Atlantic towns hoping to stanch the human exodus

But Bjerke anticipates that percentage will increase over time as development continues.

“The populations coming, people don’t generally build buildings for them to stay empty. The vacancy rates are lower in the peninsula and other parts of Halifax. It is a place that people are wanting to move to,” he said.

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He added new development is now being directed to the peninsula.

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