Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Steinbach booms to No. 3 city in province

Immigration puts community behind Brandon, 'Peg in population

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Welcome to Steinbach, boom town of Manitoba.

Make that boom city, as it is now the third-largest metropolitan area in the province, according to Canada census results released Wednesday.

From 2006 to 2011, the community located about 45 minutes southeast of Winnipeg saw its population grow by 2,458 people, or 22.2 per cent, to 13,524 from 11,066.

That was good enough to vault it past Thompson and Portage la Prairie for third place in the province behind Winnipeg (663,617, up nearly five per cent from 633,451) and Brandon (46,061, up 11 per cent from 41,511).

Over the same five years, Manitoba's population climbed to 1,208,268 from 1,148,401. The 5.2 per cent growth rate was double that of the previous five-year period, thanks largely to an influx of more than 64,000 immigrants.

The numbers didn't surprise Chris Goertzen, Steinbach's mayor.

"We've had a lot of growth in the last number of years. We have a very diverse economy, a lot of immigration and people say this is a great place to live and do business," he said.

The bulk of Steinbach's new residents came from countries such as Germany, Russia and the Philippines.

Linda Peters, executive director of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce, said potential residents were attracted to the many jobs that were available in town a decade ago but more recently, newcomers are moving to Steinbach to be closer to their trailblazing relatives.

"For a lot of the Germans and Russians, we have a very similar landscape and climate here in Steinbach. They love the open spaces and that they can have a bit of an acreage," she said.

Viktor Borger and his wife, Helene, were two of those people. They brought their five children over from Germany in 2009 largely due to the testimonials of his in-laws who had moved to Steinbach a few years before. Last year, they welcomed their sixth child, daughter Salome.

"I see here for my children a future in this land," he said. "I see it in my kids' reactions that we made a good decision to come here. They really enjoy school. I see more opportunities for my children in Canada than in Germany."

As the population has grown, the business community has followed suit. Peters said many local businesses are hiring newcomers and a number of recent immigrants have started up their own enterprises and needed to hire people, too.

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Steinbach has only recently begun to celebrate its increasingly diverse population at its annual Culturama event, a mini-Folklorama where food, costumes and dancing from "back home" are put on display, Peters said.

"Last year, we attracted people from more than 40 countries and we have more than 100 countries represented in the region," she said.

New residents, of course, need a place to live and Goertzen said that shouldn't be a problem thanks to local developers who are eager to build houses, condominiums and apartments.

"We do have a shortage of lots but we see a lot more of them coming on stream. We had 250 new units started this last year and we expect to have another significant number this year," he said.

Goertzen said he wouldn't be at all shocked if the same 20 per cent growth rate continued for the next five years.

"We have a strong agriculture, manufacturing and servicing base. They're all doing well. If one is having a struggle, the others are picking up the slack," he said.

Goertzen said no formal parties have been planned to celebrate its No. 3 status although he suspects it will be mentioned once or twice during its Summer in the City festival in June. In the meantime, it's business as usual.

"We're a place that likes to work hard. We'll celebrate it briefly and then we'll move forward and continue to work," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

 

TOP BABY NAMES

Parents added nearly 16,200 babies to Manitoba's population in 2011, and on Wednesday the province revealed the most popular names of the year.

Girls

Olivia  84 babies

Ava 82

Emily 80

Sophia 73

Emma 66

Hailey 51

Sophie 51

Chloe 50

Isabella 50

Lily 47

Boys

Liam 105  babies

Ethan 88

Noah 73

Logan 72

Lucas 68

Benjamin 67

Mason 63

Jayden 62

Carter 58

Jacob 56

 

  • Census fact: Less than one in five Canadians now lives in rural areas

 

  • Census fact: One in three Canadians lives in one of the three largest metropolitan areas: Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 9, 2012 A3

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