Town’s population hits six digits
From Julia Le, Milton Canadian Champion
Milton is ending the year with a bang. With the population hitting the 100,000 mark by year’s end, according to Town planning estimates, the town is staying true to its ranking as Canada’s fastest growing community.
Milton Acting CAO Bill Mann said the Town is excited about seeing its vision for the community come to fruition.
He said Milton truly embodies a place where you can live, work and play.
Over the last 15 years, the Town has made a considerable effort to attract people through affordable housing and businesses that will in turn create employment opportunities, according to Mann.
He added the Town has also been creating more neighbourhood parks and building a complete community that has recreational facilities, an arts centre and other amenities, while ensuring residents have the required essential services.
Mann cited that Milton is home to large distribution centres for Target and Lowe’s. The Target distribution centre set to open in May 2013 will be a 1.3 million-sq.-ft. facility and will employ hundreds of people, while the Lowe’s distribution centre, which broke ground last August, will be a 626,000-sq.-ft. facility also expected to employ hundreds of people.
Mann said the Town is guided by the principles of growth engrained in its strategic plan.
He said in 1997, the Town’s official plan anticipated Halton Region’s delivery in 2000 of ‘The Big Pipe’ carrying Lake Ontario water up from Oakville to Milton, and a population that would grow to about 165,000 people by 2021.
Mann said the Town is keeping pace and may exceed that estimate, considering the population grew from 31,471 residents in 2001 to 53,889 in 2006 and 84,362 in 2011, according to census data.
“If we’re able to generate intensification, our population may be 185,000 in 2021 and then by 2031 we’re looking at a minimum of 236,000 people,” he said, adding that Milton has the potential to grow out to 300,000 to 350,000 people. “(If so) Milton will ultimately be larger than Burlington and Oakville.”
But developing and shaping Milton hasn’t come without a price.
“As you can appreciate in any community that is growing as fast as we are, we are experiencing growing pains,” said Mann.
The Town is doing everything in its power to ensure schools, transportation and transit and the hospital keeps up with the population boom.
He said Craig Kielburger Secondary School opened this year and a new catholic high school will open the following year.
Mann added the Town is working with the Region to widen Regional Road 25 and Tremaine Road. Tremaine Road has already been widened between Main Street and Derry Road and next spring there are plans to widen it from Derry to Britannia roads and then from Main Street to Steeles Avenue.
There’s also a long-term plan to expand transit service, have two more GO stops within Milton and encourage the community to get out of cars and walk, cycle or use public transit.
The hospital will also be expanded, with the first patient likely to be seen in December 2017 or January 2018.
“If you look at the last census, the average age dropped down to 34. That’s the youngest age in any community,” he said. “And when you look at the birth rate, we have the highest birthrate at 1,500 births a year, which is phenomenal, hence our need to expand the hospital.”
He said the Town is taking on the challenges head-on and planning for the future.
Other major projects down the line include seeing the Milton Education Village come to fruition and encouraging the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to work with Mohawk Racetracks to have a full casino and entertainment complex built. He said it would include a hotel and golf course.
Mann said Milton may be expanding, but it hasn’t lost its roots.
“We’re still maintaining that small town atmosphere,” he said, adding that the town has a tremendous historical fabric. “One of the most beautiful things about Milton is people are on a first-name basis.”
He said with the Niagara Escarpment as its backdrop, Milton is really the place to be.
“There is tremendous opportunity within Milton,” he said. “Growing pains will always be there, but they’re manageable and will diminish as we move forward to ultimate state of Milton.”