West St. Paul among top growing municipalities
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This article was published 11/02/2022 (182 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There’s no doubt that West St. Paul is a community on the move.
Statistics Canada released 2021 census data last week, including population numbers, which listed West St. Paul as the second fastest growing community in Manitoba. Only Niverville, Man., had grown at a faster rate over the past five years.
According to the census, West St. Paul’s population grew by 24.5 per cent, from 5,368 in 2016 to 6,682 last year, the 10th fastest rate of growth in Canada. The census also noted there were 2,270 private dwellings in the RM in 2021, up 25.5 per cent from 2011.
According to West St. Paul mayor Cheryl Christian, that number is expected to continue growing, with 1,200 residential lots approved last year ready for development. Once homes are built on those lots, it will mark a 50 per cent increase in the number of homes in the community.
“That’s very exciting. It will bring a lot of new families to West St. Paul,” Christian told Canstar recently.
“We have trust and credibility with our private sector, which translates into private capital flowing into West St. Paul,” Brent Olynyk, chief administrative officer for the RM for the past 10 years, said in a statement. “We’ve had over $200 million invested in our community in recent years from private partners, developers in the residential and retail sectors.”
“For each residential lot developed in West St. Paul our municipality receives over $12,500 in capital fees from our developers,” Christian added. “We use those fees to fund new park projects, purchase new fire equipment, add to our snow removal equipment, upgrade our roads, add yard waste services, extend our trails and enhance all our municipal services.”
However, the rapid pace of development has left some residents feeling left behind.
George Penner moved to West St. Paul 20 years ago to maintain a semi-rural lifestyle and be closer to his wife’s elderly parents. The River Springs Drive resident said that while he and his neighbours aren’t opposed to development, the pace has left many of their heads spinning in the last five years.
“It’s just gone berserk,” Penner said. “People who have lived here for more than 20 years, like I have, they moved here to have a more rural lifestyle. We’ve lost it.”
Christian noted that while the growth in West St. Paul may appear to be happening quickly, it is the result of decades of planning and public consultation.
“Development, and higher density growth in parts of our municipality, particularly the Middlechurch settlement centre, has been taking place for more than 30 years,” Christian said, adding that a number of new developments have seen nobody register in opposition during planning sessions. “Our development plan, secondary plan, zoning by-law, subdivision approvals and service agreements for water and wastewater have all involved decades of planning, public open houses, public hearings, and consultation with the community.”
While Penner acknowledged that developers hold open houses and the municipality’s public hearings are open to the public, he doesn’t feel concerns of residents aren’t taken seriously.
“They hear us,” he said. “But that’s all they do. They don’t accommodate.”
“Every single development currently taking place in West St. Paul has undergone changes at some point and in some way thanks to feedback from residents at open houses, on a development website or through feedback received at public hearings,” she said. “There is nothing more important to our council than community feedback to ensure these developments are a good fit for our community now and into the future.”
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112