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Edmundston mayor ponders census increase

Some data from the 2016 census has just been published, in which we find good news for Edmundston: a demographic increase, unheard of here for a very long time.

Since 1981, we have been on a downward slope. Not different from many other northern communities in fact. Overall, since 1981, we have lost 2000 people. This is major.

So, the fact that, according to the last census, there are 500 more people in the municipality, gives us cause to rejoice. It’s not the Eldorado, that’s for sure. But it is still an important catch-up. Nearly a quarter of the population, lost for 35 years, has been caught up in just five years.

(Contributed photo | City of Edmundston)

(Contributed photo | City of Edmundston)

In addition, this increase is largely due to the arrival of new families. Family units increased by 3.2 percent, about the same as the general population (3.4 percent). In a context of demographic aging, this is all the more interesting.

We can try to discuss at length the reasons for this increase in population. In the absence of more detailed census details, which will be published later, many scenarios are possible. It’s premature to expand on that.

But one thing is certain. Let us observe all the municipalities that surround us. Only Saint-Quentin and Edmundston have experienced an increase in population in the last 5 years.

So I have a simple question for you. Is this sustainable?

We dedicate ourselves to the promotion of our attractions and our assets. We can develop all the community-building projects we want. We can take charge and roll up our sleeves to meet the many challenges. But the fact remains that the results on the ground show that the whole region is affected.

Now, understand me well. I’m not pleased with our neighbours’ population decline. And I’m certainly not suggesting that our neighbours are not making their best efforts to develop their municipality. On the contrary, everybody is giving it their best fight.

What I’m saying is very simple. If the population base of our region as a whole decreases (and this is truly the case) the whole region suffers. Our city also suffers as a regional pole of services and shops.

With Saint-Quentin, we surely did something good in Edmundston to get good results. I am convinced that our friends in Upper Madawaska, soon united in a single rural municipality, are aiming to do the same, and they are already doing so by amalgamating. The same is true for the municipalities of Lower Madawaska/Victoria. And what about our friends in northern Maine and those in Témiscouata?

We must not delude ourselves. Like a tsunami, the demographic wave is vast and deep. To think otherwise is to abandon oneself to the fate of forces that are much greater than ourselves and that we do not master. In fact, it is abandoning everything.

It is therefore more important than ever to take control not only as a city but also as a region. A strong, united region working towards an optimistic and inclusive vision. And we must translate this will into real and strategic action. We have that obligation.

We owe it to those who have preceded us and especially to those who follow us and who want to “Succeed here”.

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