Niagara’s Population Retention Efforts Need To Focus On A Wider Age Range: Researchers

News from Brock University and the Niagara Community Observatory

Posted January 26th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Post-secondary schools like Niagara College and Brock University, an image from which is shown here, draw young people to Niagara. But what more can be done to keep them in the region after they graduate?

Post-secondary schools like Niagara College and Brock University, an image from which is shown here, draw young people to Niagara. But what more can be done to keep them in the region after they graduate?

Contrary to popular belief, the population of 20-somethings in Niagara is increasing, so efforts to attract and keep young people in the region need to be extended to more age groups, new Brock University-led research shows.

Youth attraction initiatives in communities tend to focus on those in the 20-29 age bracket. However, the Niagara population of people in their 20s has actually grown over the past 15 years, says the latest Niagara Community Observatory brief, titled Growing Niagara: A closer look at Niagara’s aging population.

The details of the brief were released Tuesday at a public presentation held at White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“Though our growth is less than what was seen at the provincial level, this is the only area where we don’t have population losses, perhaps due to our post-secondary institutions,” says the brief, co-written by Carol Phillips at the NCO and Adam Durrant from the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.

Graphic courtesy of Brock University and the Niagara Community Observatory

Graphic courtesy of Brock University and the Niagara Community Observatory

Meanwhile, the numbers of people aged 30-44 and 0-14 living in Niagara have dropped over the years.

“Assuming the latter are typically the children of the former, this illustrates the extent to which Niagara is not replacing its aging population,” says the brief. “This suggests that the focus of youth retention and attraction should be broadened.”

The brief provides closer examination of population numbers in Niagara, focusing on its age characteristics.

Highlights include:

  • 18.8 per cent of Niagara’s population is 65 years and older while 15.5 per cent of its population is 14 and under
  • The Regional Municipality of Niagara has a median age of 44.1 years, compared to 40.4 years in Ontario and 40.6 years in Canada
  • Niagara’s 2011 population of 431,346 was a 0.9 per cent increase over 2006 compared to national population growth of 5.9 per cent

 “As Niagara’s decision-makers look for ways to improve our community’s economic prosperity in the coming years, it’s vital they get the information they need,” says Phillips. “Our goal with this brief is simply to provide a piece of that information.”

Niagara Regional Council set its Strategic Priorities Implementation Plan in 2015 to increase the region’s “global attractiveness” and improve its economic prosperity. Attracting and retaining a younger skilled labour force is part of that strategy.

“There is no simple or single solution to addressing demographic challenges,” says Durrant. “Population changes at a local level require very long-range planning and a range of ongoing efforts to support multiple age groups that can lay the foundation for the future we would like to build.”

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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One response to “Niagara’s Population Retention Efforts Need To Focus On A Wider Age Range: Researchers

  1. Good to see a follow up from the very first NCO report which was about this same issue – Attracting and Retaining Youth. I had the pleasure to help out under Dr. Siegel. But we are now almost 10 years down the road. Both post-secondary institutions are working within Niagara but manage inside a bigger cog of financial subsidies – perhaps the new lower tuition fees will allow local students to access these services. We do need enticements for educated young ones to stay put – even middle age educated ones wonder about their future prospects in a region that grapples with employment, transportation, and now enviornmental vs. development issues. Niagara seems stuck between 2 lakes — and a hard place — time to learn to invite change without losing its soul.

    Like

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