Lindsay’s population set to double, says mayor in speech
In his mayoral luncheon speech, sponsored by the Lindsay + District Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Doug Elmslie told attendees in no uncertain terms that massive and unstoppable changes are coming to both Lindsay and Kawartha Lakes.
Elmslie said that within the next 10 to 15 years the population of Lindsay will double. The mayor said it is the job of council to ensure that the growth is orderly and that what makes Kawartha Lakes a great place to live today is not lost in an ocean of ugly and unplanned expansion.
“It is no secret that Kawartha Lakes is growing,” Elmslie said. “We have planned and invested over the last 15 years for this type of growth and expansion – and it is here. We are committed to responsible growth.”
Elmslie said that he knows this kind of development could be hard for many long-term residents but added, “this is the world in 2023. Growth is everywhere. There is a desperate need for new places for people to live.”
Elmslie hopes that Kawartha Lakes will be a place that welcomes newcomers and creates communities that for generations people will want to call home.
However, he recognized that the city’s current development timetable, which called for this massive influx of newcomers by 2051, has been thrown into overdrive by decisions made by the current Conservative government of Doug Ford that has called for the building of 1.5 million new homes in Ontario by 2031.
“That is only eight years away,” Elmslie said. “To achieve this, they (the provincial government) are substantially changing the rules of the game. There have been major changes tabled (regarding the pace of and restrictions on development) and those changes have us concerned on a few fronts – protecting affordable housing targets, protecting the environment, avoiding sprawl, and our ability to charge developers the necessary fees to be able to service the new developments, to name a few.”
Elmslie told the attendees that the city had been planning for 21,000 new housing units city-wide by 2051, and with a 30-year window to act the city had “all the necessary plans in place to service the new units and provide services to new residents.”
But that is no longer the case with the province speeding up anticipated development by almost two decades.
“These new units will double the population of Lindsay within the next 10 years,” Elmslie said. “We are facing an unprecedented challenge with the speed of this growth. We are doing everything that we can to make our concerns known to the province and work together to find a balance that allows municipalities like ours the tools we need to grow responsibly.”
Elmslie said that staff is putting the necessary plans in place to prepare for the influx of new people. Those plans include ensuring that water, sewage, roads, emergency services and recreational needs for these new residents are met.
The mayor also made it clear that the new growth is going to be wildly uneven with almost all of it occurring in or near Lindsay.
“The growth across of the municipality is largely in Lindsay,” Elmslie said. “We are working to develop smaller urban centres like Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls and Omemee, however the lion’s share of new housing will be in Lindsay.”
Elmslie said that the census numbers of 2021 indicated that over the last five years Kawartha Lakes has experienced balanced growth with no one age demographic taking precedence. Elmslie also said that one of the faster growing demographics in the city was people between 25-39.
“These are people who have gotten their education, a career started and are bringing their families here to live and grow up,” Elmslie said.
Elmslie hopes that this kind of “balanced community” with people of every age demographic will be replicated as Lindsay potentially grows 30,000 people in the next decade and more.