In 2041, the province expects St. Catharines population to grow by 179,000 residents. To put that into perspective, it would be like a whole city the size of present-day Burlington moving into St. Catharines in the next 25 years.
As well, students of the St. Catharines population now prefer to live downtown.
The Niagara Region 2041 growth plan will include transportation expansions to accommodate the steadily growing population.
Read on to find how immigration, student housing and transportation demand could soon affect the population of St. Catharines and it’s real estate market in the near future.
St. Catharines Population: Immigration
As mentioned, the province expects Niagara’s population to grow by 179,000 residents in 2041. But that growth to the Grimsby, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines populations, for instance, “will never happen without a massive influx of immigrants.”
A team has been formed to position Niagara as the region of choice for immigrants in Ontario. Andy Scott and Dr. Andrea Feller, associate medical officer of health, will lead the team.
Based on current birth rates, Canada’s population will be in serious decline within 34 years. Andy Scott made this observation in another Niagara This Week article. He added that immigration is key to accelerating economic growth, stimulating innovation and increasing business startups.
To date, the team has conducted a survey and focus groups. Because of the natural beauty, good weather and affordable housing, Niagara is seen as a safe place to live. Being so close to the giant U.S. market also positions Niagara well for exports and trading.
Feller has said there are opportunities such as marketing Niagara with an “I heart Niagara” website, a revitalized immigrant portal and advocating for streamlined processes at senior levels of government for international professionals and students.
Niagara Falls Councillor Selina Volpatti called the initiative “hugely important” for Niagara.
“The communities in the GTA that receive the most influx of foreign investment, are ones that have the highest rates of immigration,” said Rino Mostacci. Mostacci is regional planning and development commissioner.
St. Catharines Population: Student Housing
When it comes to housing for the students of the St. Catharines population, Gary Dixon says a lot of students would rather be downtown. Dixon is project manager of the private development Queenston Residences.
“You’re within easy walking distance to places to eat…and so close to the nightlife,” he told the St. Catharines Standard. “We’re also trying to key in on students coming to the new Brock University arts campus nearby.”
Queenston is among hundreds of commercial student residence rooms and suites to recently open off-campus in Niagara. Penn Terra Group opened two towers at 136 James Street and 51 Lake Street in St. Catharines’ downtown. Renovations are either completed, or underway, for three other student residence suites. They are Downtown Student Residence on Ontario Street, Chelsie Apartments on James Street, and Garden Park Place by Mahtay Café,
Community stakeholders say these concentrated residences help address issues seen in student housing rentals in neighborhoods near Brock. For example, many students in one home causes messy lawns and late-night partying complaints.
Brock’s manager of off-campus living and neighborhood relations, Curtis Gadula, said that the private residences provide more options for students so, “the more options they have, the better it is for their experience over here at Brock.”
St. Catharines Population: Transportation Demand
Sixty-nine per cent of commutes to work within the Niagara region are less than five kilometres. Yet only seven per cent of people are walking or biking. Loy Cheah is the Region’s transportation lead of strategic initiatives and projects, and that is what he said in a St. Catharines Standard article. The commutes of the St. Catharines population are likely a relative length.
Cheah said this is a “huge opportunity” to promote more active transportation locally. He adds that it takes the average transit user four times longer to reach an urban destination than it does by car.
However, Niagara Region is working on a 2041 growth plan. This plan includes a transportation master plan, and Cheah said it would be ideal to reduce bus travel time to two times longer than driving by car. This is close to the ratio that comparable communities offer.