Pelham’s Population Growth from the 1970s
When I grew up and attended St. Alexander School, the Fonthill Plaza didn’t exist: no Shopper’s Drug Mart or Beer Store or Giant Tiger. In fact, I have distinct memories of walking through long grass and along a warn footpath to the Pelham Library – which was situated in the basement of Pelham Town Hall! And, the school was just an “L-shaped” building in those days – before the addition in the 1990s. The octagon-shaped Church along Hwy 20 (where the current playground is) was replaced in the 2000s.
The railway tracks – still in use along Station Street – had yet to be named the Steve Bauer Trail. With the Fonthill Firehall on South Pelham, it wasn’t odd to hear the siren calling the volunteers. And, school mates crossed Highway 20 to get to a treat at the convenience store where the Royal Bank now stands.
The Post Office likely moved from its location on Pelham Street (now ForestGreen creations) in the 1980s. And, the now iconic Fonthill Branch of the Pelham Public Library wasn’t constructed until the mid-1980s.
I also distinctly remember playing in dirt piles during the building of the roads and homes on Woodstream Boulevard and Spruceside Crescent. And the Town built the then new Pelham Arena – which replaced the outdoor rink in “the Pit” – in the middle of a farmer’s field in the mid-1970s.
Looking back at the population growth, one can see the reasons for these changes.
In 1971, Statistics Canada had the Town’s population at 9,997. While Pelham’s population only grew by 99 people by 1976 (up 1%), the Town’s population took off shortly thereafter. From 1976 to 1981 Pelham grew by 1,008 people – a whopping 10% increase! From 1981 to 1986, the population grew even more – by 1,061 people (or 9.6%). From 1986 to 1991, Pelham grew by another 9.6% to 13,328 – but this time increasing by 1,163 people! That was the Town’s largest growth spurt over a five-year period.
Then, Pelham’s growth started to slow down a bit. From 1991 to 1996, the population grew by 1,015 people (or a 7.6% increase to 14,343). From 1996 to 2001, the Town grew by 929 people or 6.5%. The 2006 Census had the Town’s population at 16,155 or growing by 883 people (5.8%). While I have been serving as your Mayor, the Town grew 443 people from 2006 to 2011 (up 2.7%) to 16,598 and now to 17,110 in 2016 (up 512 people or 3.1%).
Just like we hear a few people complaining today, I remember a few folks in the 1970s and the 1980s and the 1990s expressing concern about the Town growing too quickly.
And, while we are projected to grow by about 850 people (or 5%) to 17,960 by 2021, Council and I will continue to work together with you to ensure we maintain our community’s small-town feel – just as the Town did during our growth in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.