NORTH DUNDAS — The population of Chesterville grew strongly while Winchester lost residents over the last five years according to the 2016 Canadian Census results.
The dramatically changing fortunes of the traditional neighbours is one of the big surprises in a census which shows that communities closest to Ottawa on major highways like 416 and 417 grew fast in the last five years while older cities of Eastern Ontario more than an hour out of the capital lost ground.
But that doesn’t explain what happened in this region. Winchester, at the crossroads of former Ontario Highways 43 and 31 and with significant employers like Parmalat and a major hospital, lost population while Chesterville, still dealing with the loss of Nestle, a big industrial employer, surged.
Chesterville’s population soared 15.8 per cent to 1,677 while Winchester’s population slid 2.7 per cent to 2,394. The number of residents of North Dundas township, including the two villages, rose just 0.5 per cent to 11,278 despite a generally healthy farm economy. The population of South Dundas rose just 0.4 per cent to 10,833.
But smaller centres of the region, like rural centres across Canada, face the challenges of servicing rapidly aging populations as they struggle to retain young residents and attract immigrants lured by big cities.
Slow population growth undermines housing prices and municipal and school tax revenues.
Across Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry county, the population rose just two per cent to 113,420. That is far below the 4.6 per cent growth in Ontario population or the 5.4 per cent growth in Ottawa population.
Cornwall’s population inched up 0.5 per cent to 46,589. But that was better than most older former industrial cities like Prescott, Brockville, Hawkesbury, Pembroke and Smiths Falls where the population fell between 1.1 per cent and four per cent each.
The fastest growing centres of Eastern Ontario all boast prime locations on major highways close to Ottawa: North Grenville to the south rose 9.1 per cent to 16,451 including Kemptville up eight per cent to 3,911.
To the east Rockland jumped 12 per cent to 12,302, Russell Township surged 8.3 per cent to 16,520 powered by 17.6 per cent growth in the village of the same name, 18.9 per cent in Limoges and 8.4 per cent in Embrun.
To the west, Carleton Place population jumped 10.2 per cent and Arnprior grew by 5.4 per cent. Lanark county population rose 4.6 per cent to 68,698.
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