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Booming communities to benefit from university research

New research by Brandon University offers suggestions to help manage the rapid population growth now challenging some Manitoba communities.

The university's Rural Development Institute looked at two regions with recent booms: Neepawa and Winkler. In the Neepawa area, populations have surged as much as 20 per cent since 2006 due to local employment opportunities. Near Winkler there has been tremendous population growth thanks to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, including a whopping increase of 63 per cent over 10 years in one rural municipality.

Bill Ashton, the institutes's director, says a key recommendation is the establishment of a liaison to organize community efforts between different provincial departments and organizations.

"What seems to be missing and what both local stakeholders and government representatives talked about were better ways to coordinate existing policies and programs," Ashton said. "Rapid population growth can stress any number of services including health care, education, transportation and housing and more."

There are 20 recommendations, developed through interviews and workshops with service providers, government and business.

"The recommendations address challenges evident from the pace of growth and will enable local stakeholders to better manage growth," Ashton said.

The full report is available at http://www.brandonu.ca/rdi/publications/rural-immigrationrural-migration/.

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