Nova Scotia

Wolfville is booming, and it may just be the beginning

Wolfville's recent population growth may be the beginning of a boom in the community.

Population of Valley town grew by 20% in recent years and could double from there

More than 800 people moved to Wolfville between 2016 and 2021 pushing the total population above 5,050. (Josh Hoffman)

Wolfville's recent population growth may be the beginning of a boom in the community.

The number of people living in the community grew by 20 per cent between 2016 and 2021, according to the 2021 census. The town welcomed an additional 800 residents during that time, pushing its total population above 5,050.

The spike follows a drop in Wolfville's population in previous years, according to the 2016 census. 

Mayor Wendy Donovan said there are likely several factors contributing to the increase. They include thousands of people who moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia last year, and others who have family in the area or connections to Acadia University.

"There's a quality of life that people are looking for and it's here," Donovan said.

The two pieces of land Wolfville is considering developing in the east end of town are known as "Kenny Lands" and "Maple Ridge Lands." (Town of Wolfville)

Plans to develop land on the east and west ends of Wolfville could result in the town's population growing by thousands of people.

Town council approved development in the west end of town in 2011. Roads and infrastructure have been built and Donovan said work should start moving more quickly once supply issues caused by the pandemic are sorted out. 

A strategy for two pieces of undeveloped land on the east side is in the early stages with public consultation expected to start next month.

"The build-out will double, at least, our current permanent population," she said. "So, we could be a town in the future, and it won't be the immediate future, of 10,000 people. Plus, of course, Acadia."

Mayor Wendy Donovan says Wolfville already has traffic constraints. (Robert Short/CBC)

To prepare for the potential growth, Donovan said town staff must take a close look at traffic management, expand sewer and water capacity and decentralize the commercial area. 

Another concern will be managing the growth while maintaining Wolfville's small town sensibility, she said.

"It will be a balancing act," she said.

Donovan said people who are attracted to Wolfville, partly because of the university, expect services that can be found in a larger centre.

"Unless we expand our tax base, we can't continue to provide those services," Donovan said.

The more houses the better

Wolfville is at the top of the list for many people who are looking to move to Nova Scotia, says Annapolis Valley realtor Allen Chase.

Chase, who grew up in the area, says Wolfville has always been in demand.

"Over the last few years, we've noticed, specifically, a huge increase in people coming from Ontario," he said. "Some of the western provinces as well, but I'd say Ontario would be the largest gain for folks moving to Nova Scotia."

Chase said there are not enough houses to go around in Wolfville and it would be very difficult for a young family to afford a place to live.

He said there's room to expand around Wolfville and developing in a responsible and meaningful way would be a solution.

"The more supply we have the better it will be," he said. "Once we get some more supply, I think we will see the market calm a little bit and the prices not climb so drastically."

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