Numbers don’t lie and Wednesday’s census tally confirms what most of us already know: Nelson is a great place to live.
For the first time the population within city limits has burst through the 10,000 mark. The Statistics Canada count reveals that 10,230 people now call Nelson home. That’s 972 more than the last count in 2006 or a 10.5 per cent increase.
The why is easy. Nelson is located in an incredible part of the world and offers those who choose to live here a lifestyle unrivaled in small town Canada. Whether people stumble upon it, discover it thanks to positive press, are told by friends or are lured by the legend… it’s clear we have the “it” factor going for us.
The jump in population should come as no surprise to anybody who has lived here for a decade or more. Compared to the mid-1990s, over the last few years there has been a relative building boom within city limits. The housing stock has increased significantly and Stats Canada now tells us there are actual people living in those dwellings.
There is an obvious bright side to bulging numbers. More people means a more vibrant community socially and economically. The fact most people who move here put a tremendous amount of thought into relocating also means newcomers who arrive do so for the right reasons.
With every glass that’s half full, there is one half empty. Mayor John Dooley says the rate of growth has been slow enough that it’s manageable.
“In fact, we could probably grow a lot faster and it would still be manageable, if you look at the community’s footprint,” he told the Star. “It’s difficult to end up with sprawl in a place like Nelson.”
True enough. But even looking at the most obvious sign of growth — traffic on our streets — shows council needs to be very cognizant in dealing with the potential problems that can come with the increase in numbers.
Making it into Canada’s 10,000 Club is something we all need to think about. It’s an historical high water mark that brings opportunity and challenge all at the same time.