According to the latest census, Windsor-Essex welcomed close to 10,000 new residents between 2021 and 2022.
“Windsor-Essex County is an amazing place to be, live, work, play,” said Sonja Grbevski, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex branch.
Local researcher Frazier Fathers believes part of the reason is pandemic recovery.
“You look back at 2021 the region actually shrank by 13,000 people,” noted Fathers. “A lot of the shrinkage was international students, temporary workers who couldn’t come here.”
Fathers says data today shows that number went up by about 65,000.
The Windsor census metropolitan area (CMA), which includes Tecumseh, LaSalle, Lakeshore and Amherstburg, lost close to 24,000 residents in 2021 but rebounded by almost 85,000 last year.
Leamington-Kingsville grew by 14,000 and the Town of Essex is up by 59 people.
“We’re noticing people coming to the city for a variety of reasons,” said realtor Goran Todorovic. “A jobs, job opportunities. B is shelter. homes. Homes that are much more affordable here than other places across Canada.”
Todorovic says one contributing factor is the number of immigrants. They were already residents but now have permanent residency.
“We’ve had quite a bit in the last six to eight months come to us and say we have our papers, permanent residence. We’re ready to buy a home,” he said.
Fathers feel steady growth is vital to the region.
“If suddenly 10,000 people are arriving here every year how do you build enough homes for those people,” he said.
More people means more traffic and the need for things like transit, trails, parks and recreational services.
“The increase in outdoor opportunities for people is something we saw through the pandemic and I think that has continued,” said Jen Knights, executive director of recreation and culture for the City Of Windsor. “We’re certainly working with Parks (department) closely to look at what opportunities we could to kind of think outside the community center box.”
Knights says the city has continuous dialogue with staff and user groups and monitor registration levels to best serve the community and feels the growth in population is exciting.
“It brings people with new ideas and experiences into the community,” she said.
Groups like the CMHA hope that government investment follows growth accordingly to avoid straining support services.
“It’s not just from a mental health wellbeing,” said Grbevski. “It’s also from any other angle because the more diversified a community becomes the more tolerant the existing community needs to be.”
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