With several developments on the horizon, the City of Chestermere is anticipated to continue experiencing rapid growth.
Mayor Marshall Chalmers said he knows that will mean challenges, but his outlook remains positive.
“We have to grow with a purpose,” Chalmers said. “We can’t just let it run wild.”
The city has experienced a significant population increase already this decade. According to a report by Statistics Canada published in 2017, Chestermere was the fourth fastest-growing municipality in Canada between 2011 and 2016. Throughout that time, the population increased by 34.2 per cent, from 14,824 to 19,887. And the city has continued to expand, Chalmers said, with the current population sitting at 20,732.
By 2040, according to Chalmers, the population of the city is forecasted to reach 50,000 residents.
“People choose Chestermere, I hear all the time, for the peaceful beauty and the excellent opportunities and safe neighbourhoods and excellent schools,” he said.
Since 2017, the City has approved six outline plans for new communities on the Chestermere’s west side – Bridgeport, Chelsea, Dawson’s Landing, Waterford Stage 1 and 2 and Southshores – Chalmers said.
“Together, these developments will cover more than 1,600 acres,” he said. “Several of these projects have already begun, and we anticipate the development of Chelsea and Dawson’s Landing, and potential Waterford Stage 1, will be and are moving forward with initial subdivisions.”
He added 20 per cent of that land is being set aside for commercial development, which will be a boon to the City’s non-residential tax base.
The City must grow with sustainability in mind, which is rooted in council’s strategic vision, according to Chalmers.
“It’s always about maintaining and enhancing the quality of life and the characteristics that make Chestermere so special,” Chalmers said. “Everything we do is with that lens.”
In order to ensure sufficient recreational opportunities exist as the population expands, he said, the City will collect money from developers through the Recreation Off-Site Levy Bylaw – passed in April – which will fund facilities.
As Chestermere grows, Chalmers added, another priority is the development of diverse housing options.
“When we look at the gaps we currently have, we clearly need to work with developers to make sure the right type of housing is being built as the community expands,” he said. “You know, having a large lot [and a] beautiful, big home on the lake is definitely nice, but…not everybody can live on the lake, and we have to find solutions for a diverse and growing population.”
Growth will inevitably change the character of a community, according to Chalmers, but that isn’t necessarily a negative. As long as council and administration “grows with purpose” using thoughtful processes, he said he feels the City should be able to continue achieving its ultimate vision of an “amazing Chestermere.”