COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Participants in a “Fringe Growth” meeting discuss issues surrounding the development of the city over the coming decades at the Park Community Centre on Tuesday evening.
The population of Brandon may grow to more than 70,000 in the next 20 years, according to projections by the MMM Group.
The Brandon and Fringe Area Growth Strategy will incorporate the City of Brandon, along with the RMs of Elton and Cornwallis. It will identify where Brandon’s boundaries should expand in the future to accommodate projected growth, outline the considerations for deciding where to direct future growth and propose development patterns and densities that should occur to support the level of growth and land consumption needs. (SUBMITTED)
Mid-range estimates by the consulting firm hired by the city show the population increasing to 61,000 by 2036, while the low projection is 56,000.
By 2061, high estimates show the Wheat City at more than 100,000.
"What this does confirm is that the aggressive growth that we’ve had over the past five years or so is going to continue," Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said.
Between 2006 and 2011, the population of Brandon grew by 11 per cent to just over 46,000.
To address the growing population, the Brandon and Area Planning District is working on a strategy to examine the growth opportunities and challenges over the next 50 years.
"What we need to do is get a handle on where all these folks are going to live and also important, is what kind of jobs they’re going to have," Decter Hirst said. "It’s not just residential or even commercial but … what are we planning on doing with our industrial park because … that industry coming into town is what’s going to be driving a lot of these growth projections."
Called the Brandon and Fringe Area Growth Strategy, the plan will incorporate the City of Brandon, along with the RMs of Elton and Cornwallis. The strategy will identify where Brandon’s boundaries should expand in the future to accommodate projected growth, outline the considerations for deciding where to direct future growth and propose development patterns and densities that should occur to support the level of growth and land consumption needs.
"The city has to have a reasonable idea so we can work in co-operation with the municipalities around us in terms of where we’re going in the future," said Ryan Nickel, the city’s acting senior planner. "In particular, the infrastructure implications required to accommodate that type of growth."
A community workshop on the growth strategy was held on Tuesday to get feedback from the public.
"It was the initial step to sit down with a lot of the stakeholders and interested parties about the growth of the city," Nickel said. "And have a discussion about the different criteria that the city and the region is using to assess different growth opportunities."
The goal is for the strategy to lead to policy development.
Decter Hirst said following the election in 2010, the city and the surrounding RMs made a commitment to work co-operatively together.
"Brandon … just at the election was going through a very acrimonious annexation that had had five years of lawsuits back and forth," she said. "That wasn’t a model going forward that anyone wanted … so what we decided to do is start fresh."
RM of Cornwallis Reeve Reg Atkinson said he is pleased to see everyone looking at the "big picture."
"It’s good to plan ahead and it’s also good to plan for the whole district," he said. "We’re not just seeing Brandon, we’re looking at Cornwallis, we’re looking at Elton, we’re looking at ways that we can all work together for everybody’s mutual benefit."
The growth strategy will also consider the issue of revenue sharing. Typically if the city expands, it gains tax revenue while the RMs lose.
"What we’re trying to do is nail down as many of the generalities and get agreement on as many of the generalities as we can," Decter Hirst said. "Then … when it’s apparent that we need to annex more land, then we’ll just deal with the specifics."
The public is encouraged to fill out a short survey on the growth strategy, which can be found on the city’s website — brandon.ca.
A draft strategy is expected by spring, while final policies are slated to be ready this summer.
"Hopefully a preferred scenario (will be) identified and then from that the policies will be reflected back in the development plan," Nickel said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 2, 2013