Peterborough area is the country’s fastest-growing community: StatsCan

Peterborough-area grew by 3.1 per cent between 2017 and 2018. That makes it the fastest-growing community in Canada. Mark Giunta/Global Peterborough

According to Statistics Canada, the Peterborough census metropolitan area (CMA) saw a population jump of 3.1 per cent, or 4,069 residents, from 2017 to 2018, representing the fastest growth in all of Canada.

The Peterborough CMA includes the city, as well as the adjacent townships of Cavan Monaghan, Selwyn, Otonabee-South Monaghan and Douro-Dummer.

As of July 1, 2018, it had a population of 131,283.

“Everyone has discovered the great life we have in the Kawarthas,” said J. Murray Jones, Peterborough County warden.  “I’m surprised it didn’t happen before.  You see growth all through the county.  I’m sure the housing prices in the GTA, which are larger than ours, [are] driving it.
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“Why wouldn’t people want to live here?  It’s just the untapped jewel of the province.”

READ MORE: Average home sale price in Peterborough jumped to $416,011 in January

Peterborough and the surrounding area has seen a housing boom in recent years.

Inventory on the housing market in the city is low and there has been an increase in new residents buying on the outskirts of the city.

“People can get more for their dollar on the outskirts of Peterborough,” said Cathy Burningham, president of the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association of Realtors (PKAR).  “We are seeing that trend.”

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The average price of a home in the city was $416,011 in January, while the rental market vacancy is only one per cent.

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“Several things are driving it.  Our proximity to the Durham Region and the relative affordability, which is going up, driven by that out-migration south of us,” said Diane Therrien, mayor of Peterborough. “A lot of its driven by increasing enrollment at Trent University and Fleming College, which is great but it’s also putting a lot of pressure on our rental market.”

Trent University has seen a 15 per cent increase in enrollment between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.  It had 10,264 students enrolled at its Peterborough and Durham campuses.

“We’re seeing students sticking around through programs running through Venture North innovation cluster and nursing, which is growing in demand locally,” added Therrien.  “There’s a few ways to keep students here.

“We need to make sure we have the housing stock.  I’ve been talking with local developers and there’s plans for a few things popping up that will help alleviate that strain on the market.”

READ MORE: Cavan Monaghan Township declares interest in building automotive plant near airport

The extension of the 407 to the 35/115 in Clarington, which will give commuters another option to get to the Greater Toronto Area from Peterborough, is expected to be completed in early 2020.

“It’s making a huge impact. The potential of VIA Rail expanding will make a big impact,” added Jones.  “We’ve got it all in this area and you’re going to see a lot of changes here.”

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As the community grows, so does the need for more jobs in the area.

“You want to have a city where you can live and work and play and not have to be commuting all the time to Durham or Toronto,” added Therrien.  “There’s a lot of small business starting up in Peterborough.  We need to look for opportunities for medium-sized businesses.  Our problem is land — we need to find adequate land for people.”

“We can work together with the city.  Why does it matter who owns the land?” asked Jones.  “A job in the city of Peterborough is a job in Havelock.”

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ottawa, Windsor and London round out the top five on the Stats Canada list.

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