New census numbers out today show Barrie is growing slower than we were in the past.
At 5.9% growth in 5 years, the Barrie CMA is still the 5th fastest growing CMA in Ontario, but we are not growing anywhere near as quickly as we did in the past. This is good. Barrie grew so quickly in the late 90s and early part of the last decade that we could not keep up with the demand for growth – our shortage of family doctors, our traffic issues in the south end, our backlog of road repairs are all symptoms of growth that was just too fast.
I’ve often said that Barrie needs what I call “Goldilocks growth” – not too fast, not too slow – which to me is about 1.5% to 2.0% annually. That’s a pace of population growth that we can keep up with, where services can be provided for people as they come to Barrie. It also means more customers for Barrie businesses and a growing base of labour for our manufacturers and others to expand.
The story of Barrie since World War Two has been phenominal growth. We are probably entering a period of more modest growth, and that’s a very good thing – we need to grow slower and smarter than we have in the past.