|We are back this week to chat about Port Hawkesbury by the numbers. Last week we discussed the Imagine2030 project and how important it is for us to have a community vision that is grounded in community input. As the saying goes, “to remember where you come from is part of where you're going.” So this week, our focus is on understanding our community’s population – our people are our greatest asset!|
What is the secret behind these numbers? 3517 1976 41% 60%
Easy guess on the first one: 3,517 is the 2006 Statistics Canada census population total for the Town of Port Hawkesbury. Port Hawkesbury was incorporated as a Town in 1889 with just 633 residents, so we have certainly experienced positive population growth since that time. With the opening of the Canso Causeway in 1955, and subsequent heavy industry establishment, potential employment opportunities affected population growth significantly. However, the next number 1976 tells a more sober story. In 1976, the population of Port Hawkesbury reached its highest population total on record, growing to 4,008. By the late 1970’s several industries on the outskirts of the Town experienced operational and market challenges, resulting in an overall downward trend in population numbers. How does this affect our Town? Could this be linked to the percentage of rented dwellings in Port Hawkesbury standing at 36% (about eight percentage points higher than the Nova Scotia average)?
This downward trend is not uncommon to Port Hawkesbury - population challenges are affecting communities throughout Nova Scotia. Part of the challenge is well represented by our next ‘secret’ number. 41% represents the portion of our total population that is over the age of 45 years. This is a significant number as it demonstrates that within 15-20 years, a good portion of our population will be hitting retirement age. Although the number is high, Port Hawkesbury is in a more positive position than many other communities in Nova Scotia. In fact, Port Hawkesbury has a reasonably sized working aged population (ages 20-64) at just over 60%. And of these, young adults comprise the largest segment of our population overall at 33%. So, while there are certainly challenges, there are also strengths.
So, last but not least – what does the 60% figure represent? Our P-12 schools host 1021 students, a healthy number for a community of 3,517 individuals. However, a closer analysis shows that just 60% of these students live within the Town – the remaining 40% reside in communities that fall within the catchment or bussing area of the Town. How do we ensure that this future generation remains committed to staying and growing our Town? Ask your children and invite them to join the conversation.
What do these numbers tell us about our Town? How do we stem the downward trend? Are there appropriate resources, amenities and opportunities to support the needs of these residents? Let us know what you think. Bring your ideas forward. Let’s get started Growing our Town, Together!