The head of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce says the slow, sustainable growth of the city reflected in the census was something to be expected.
Census data released yesterday shows Nelson grew by 534 people, breaking the 11,000 population barrier to land at 11,106. That’s a 5.1 per cent rate of growth over five years (2016-2021).
“This is nice to see updated numbers because for Nelson and (Electoral) Area E and Area F and some of our surrounding regional areas, it certainly shows there’s an increase in demand and maybe could go even higher if there was a bit more housing,” Executive Director Tom Thomson told Vista Radio.
As for breaking the 11,000 threshold, Thomson believes it may help with updated numbers so Nelson gets its fair share of transfer payments from senior governments.
He believes there will always be a desire to move to the area, especially during the pandemic.
“We’re an area that probably is already on the radar for a lot of different people that are thinking about either relocating or businesses coming out to this area. But we’re not close enough to a major population area like a Vancouver or a Calgary to see just massive growth and I don’t think anybody wants to see that. But 5 per cent … I think that’s pretty sustainable,” he said.
Asked whether Nelson’s topography – nestled between a mountain range and the West Arm of Kootenay Lake – keeps its development in check, Thomson agrees. “It’s really challenging to say we’re just going to place another subdivision in a certain area.”
But he does anticipate, based on recent building statistics, more controlled but not massive growth ahead.
Thomson says it would be nice to see some purpose-built housing, like multi-unit rental housing and development in Railtown. “If we’re strategic we can find locations for apartments and more purpose-built rental properties.”