Ottawa Population To Hit 1.13 Million By 2031

Ottawa population to hit 1.13 million by 2031

Andrew Thomson,
Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, November 12, 2007

With urban sprawl and Greenbelt development once again hot topics, the city's planning and environment committee will be asked Tuesday to approve new population projections for Ottawa.

A recent staff report has forecast the City of Ottawa will have 1,136,000 people, 496,000 households, and 703,000 jobs by 2031.

The Greater Ottawa-Gatineau Area, which includes Arnprior, Smiths Falls, Casselman, Thurso and the outskirts of Shawville, is expected to have 1,734,000 people by 2031, according to the same staff report.

City planning staff want these figures used as the basis for the city's official plan and related projects.

The new predictions are lower than the city's current 2031 forecast of 1,274,000 people.

City planners have pegged Ottawa's current population at 870,800 – more than 30,000 higher then Statistics Canada's 2006 census figure.

Planners discussed their projections during a mid-September public information session and a number of fall meetings with advisory committees and area home builders.

A review of the projections by Hemson Consulting Ltd., a Toronto-based firm, concluded the forecast was “sound” and a “reasonable outlook for growth.”

“I trust using our building permits that are issued better than the information that we received from (Statistics Canada),” Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder said Sunday.

“It's important to be as accurate as you can be. You want to make sure you have an adequate number of services ready and available to be able to manage a good city.”

The staff estimate of Ottawa's current population differs from the 2006 census because city planners used new building permit data to correct what they viewed as under-coverage by Statistics Canada.

City planners believe Ottawa will continue growing at a higher rate than the national average, increasing population by 30 per cent over the next quarter-century, according to the planners' report.

By 2031, nearly all of Ottawa's population growth is expected from immigration as the city ages, the report says.

However, outside analysts were more conservative on future migration to Ottawa.

They note that in the 1990s, various factors enticed newcomers to the region, including the tech boom, a sluggish economy in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces and recession woes in Toronto and Montreal.

Those regional conditions have changed across Canada, according to a Hemson letter filed to city planners last month. Changing conditions likely mean more stable migration figures for Ottawa in coming years.

National Capital Commission chairman Russell Mills told the Citizen earlier this month that the region should consider developing parts of its 20,000-hectare Greenbelt to minimize urban sprawl. Specifically, Mr. Mills mentioned the fields lining the Queensway between Kanata and Bells Corners and on Highway 174 leading into Orlns.