Toller responds to predictions of population decline

Brett Thoms
Pontiac August 1, 2022
A recent report released by L’Institut de la statistique du Québec projects that the population of the MRC Pontiac will reduce by about 5.2 per cent in the next 20 years.
Jane Toller, warden of the MRC, who has long been optimistic about the prospects for population growth in the region, disputes the report’s findings.
“I’m not surprised that they would have come to that conclusion because of how our population has declined since the mills closed in 2008,” said Toller. “But, they are not aware of all of the population increase that we actually have had.”
Toller references the recent 2021 census data from Statistics which shows that Pontiac’s population has increased from 14,251 in 2016 to 14,764 in 2021 as evidence that counters the statistics Quebec report.
“I think that there is an upward trend in the Pontiac,” she said. “We have a population boom. We have investors arriving. Pontiac has been discovered. We have quite a lot of people moving here from Ontario.”
Toller says in her view that economic and demographic trends actually favour Pontiac.
“I’ve been told by people in the GTA that many people are ready to retire,” she said. “Many people are looking for a weekend cottage property. Places like the Muskoka, Georgian Bay and Prince Edward County have out priced themselves and they have lost their sense of wilderness that the Pontiac has.”
When asked if retirees and cottagers is a reliable base for sustainable population growth, Toller responded that it’s not just cottagers, but people who may have their primary residences somewhere else but are spending the majority of their time here.
Toller also is encouraged by the rise of jobs that allow people to work from home and therefore not have to live close to where they work. She thinks this will encourage people born in the Pontiac to return home.
“So the three categories are: this is a great place to retire; this is a great place to come and be in the wilderness and start a business and it’s a great place to work virtually.”
Toller also thinks the future of job creation is looking good, with possible reopening of two mills and multiple new businesses starting up.
“Fortunately, we’ve turned things around and we’re headed in a much more positive direction and everybody can feel the energy, everybody can see the number of people that we now have here. I’m not surprised by their prediction, but I disagree with it. And I can say that it’s wrong.”

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