Quebec City's surrounding municipalities are burgeoning with young professionals wishing to escape — but work in — the city, and who are having families, say local authorities in response to Statistics Canada's latest revenue tables.
The data, released Wednesday, shows four of the capital's suburbs are among the 10 municipalities in the province with the biggest household income growth between 2005 and 2016.
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Homes in Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, a town about 30 kilometres north of Quebec City, were at the top of the list, with the highest income increase in that period at 28.2 per cent.
Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval also saw a population increase of 88 per cent, Quebec's highest in the past 10 years.
Its mayor, Wanita Daniele, says the spike follows the evolution of young adults who moved to Sainte-Brigitte 10 or so years ago and have decided to stay, and build their lives.
Residents buying, building bigger houses
"Sainte-Brigitte used to be for new buyers, young people starting out in life who would buy a semi-detached [house]," Daniele told CBC News.
The trend, she says, has been for those people to buy or build bigger houses and, in many cases, have children.
"That's where the strong increase is … when people start out, they have smaller incomes, but the more you advance in life, more incomes progress," Daniele explained.
Some of those people were originally from the Quebec area and others are from more remote regions of the province and are looking for a taste of home near the big city, said Daniele, who herself is from the Côte-Nord region.
Next door, the adjacent municipality of Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury had the second highest household income growth in Quebec, at 26.5 per cent.
Mayor Robert Miller said it's no coincidence.
"There's an attraction, a yearning on the part of young families, who come to live here to have a bit more space and a bit of nature close by," Miller said, explaining there are several nearby regional, municipal parks and the Jacques-Cartier Provincial Park, part of which falls within the town's limits.
70 per cent work in Quebec City
In Stoneham, too, much of the population is made up of young professionals. Seventy per cent of its workers are employed in Quebec City and make the relatively short commute every day.
"From the moment you leave work, you arrive in an environment where it's much quieter," Miller said.
There are also more and more luxury homes being built in the town, the mayor said. "There's a lot of cocooning," something residents take pride in, he added.
To the east, another neighbouring town, Saint-Raymond, saw an increase in household income of 26 per cent, which town clerk Chantal Plamondon said baffled her. There hadn't been any new industry in the municipality, except for an increase in military personnel living there, she noted.
"It's true that people are looking to the suburbs because Quebec City is a little full," Plamondon said.
Saint-Lambert-de-Lauzon, south of Quebec City, had its incomes rise by 21.3 per cent. It was a surprise to secretary treasurer Eric Boisvert, too, who attributed it to a population increase. "It's good news," he said.
A push towards development
To the north, the mayor of Saint-Honoré, an eight-minute drive from the city of Saguenay, said his town had followed a similar pattern to those near the provincial capital, with incomes rising by 21.3 per cent.
"It's the new generation that wants more and more free time with family, bigger properties, beautiful spaces to live," said Bruno Tremblay.
But it didn't come without a lot of work, too, said Tremblay. "Since 2008, we've been pushing home development. We have about eight or nine promoters developing properties in Saint-Honoré," he said.
The town has been promoting the properties by comparing them to Saguenay's: "'30 per cent cheaper, 30 per cent more space,' as we say in our speeches," the mayor said.
Tremblay, who's in his eighth year in office, said he was happy about the news because it showed the efforts are bearing fruit.
In the past six years, there are a thousand more people in the town and this year alone, 90 babies were born.
"In a town of 6,000, 90 births, that's not nothing," Tremblay said.