Are we prepared for population influx

“Alberta has the biggest population surge in the country, with a record-breaking boom in both interprovincial migration and

“Alberta has the biggest population surge in the country, with a record-breaking boom in both interprovincial migration and immigration,” reported the Globe and Mail last Thursday.

“A hot job market has become a magnet for workers from other provinces this year — namely Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland — while immigration to Alberta is at record levels.

“It’s easy to see why. The province’s jobless rate ties with Saskatchewan for the lowest in the country, and employment has grown at more than three times the national average in the past year. Average weekly wages are the highest in the country. In the next decade, Alberta’s government figures the province could be short 114,000 workers amid blistering demand,” the article continued.

So why, you may ask, are we concerned. We all know Alberta’s turning the corner and the boom is coming again.

This time we promise …

But in the meantime, let’s consider Sylvan Lake’s position in all of this. Not just are there more jobs available across the province. There are lots of people moving to the province and our community. Home building is starting to take off again.

We read an estimate recently which projected another one million people will move to Alberta in the next decade.

Doing some rather quick extrapolation that suggests an approximate 33 per cent increase. For Sylvan Lake, if we just take advantage of the provincial trend, that means about another 4,000 residents. But our community has been a leader in attracting more than the average number of residents.

Just think, another 4,000 residents. That’s enough to completely fill the two quarter sections for which town councillors considered outline plans at Monday night’s meeting.

Our schools are already bulging and there are plans by Chinook’s Edge School Division for another elementary school in the short term.

Councillors are also wrestling with the need for a community recreation hub to increase the opportunities for our residents to enjoy an superb quality of life. Our loosely estimated population projections suggest that needs to be a prime priority.

But there are other sectors of our community which should also be considering how to welcome more people to our community. We wonder if our church communities have thought about how this growth will impact them. What about people providing services and activities for our seniors? Then there are sports organizations.

There are lots of opportunities to take advantage of increasing population, welcoming people to our community and helping them integrate into the fabric of live we so enjoy.

Now is the time we should be talking among ourselves and the groups we belong to, about what we can do to become more proactive in these efforts.