Then and now: P.E.I. in 1997 and 2017
By the numbers, P.E.I. has gotten bigger and smaller
Certainly the Island has changed a lot since Confederation Bridge opened 20 years ago — and not just because of the bridge.
- Building Confederation Bridge: The project director looks back 20 years later
- Tackling tolls: Could Confederation Bridge ever be free to cross?
Some of these changes are likely related to bridge, for some the relationship is debatable, and for others there is clearly no connection at all.
But here, by the numbers, is a look at P.E.I. then and now.
There are more Islanders now — more than 12,000 more.
- Population 1997: 138,095.
- Population 2016: 148,649.
But the population has not grown evenly. The population of seniors has grown by almost two thirds.
- 1997: 16,951.
- 2016: 28,092.
But the number of students enrolled in Island schools is down by almost 20 per cent.
- 1997: 24,613.
- 2016: 20,043.
There are also fewer people living in Borden-Carleton.
- 1997: 829.
- 2016: 724.
The average weather year in 1997 had more snow, but less rain.
|Snow||338.7 cm||290.4 cm|
|Rain||868.6 mm||887.1 mm|
One thing that has gotten a lot smaller is the unemployment rate.
- May 1997: 16.4%.
- April 2017: 10.3%.
Even given a 17.4 per cent increase in the working age population of the Island, the number of actual unemployed people on the Island has dropped dramatically.
- May 1997: 11,300.
- April 2017: 8,400.
Retail is the largest employment sector on the Island, and sales growth in retail has been dramatic.
Both these numbers are reported in 2017 dollars.
- May 1997: $123.3M.
- March 2017: $201.9M.
The expansion of the industry is impressive even considering population growth. Here is spending per capita, in 2017 dollars.
- May 1997: $893.48.
- March 2017: $1,364.19.
The one inarguable change from Confederation Bridge is transportation options. You can now drive across the Northumberland Strait.
But that hasn't stopped people from flying.
Passengers at Charlottetown Airport:
- 1997: 179,045.
- 2016: 354,234.
Some things haven't changed at all. They've just gotten older. The opening of the Confederation Bridge left just two ferries crossing Northumberland Strait.
The same two ferries are crossing the strait today, and their average age has seen a corresponding increase.
- 1997: 15.5 years.
- 2017: 35.5 years.
Island potato fields are smaller 20 years later.
- 1997: 45,000 hectares.
- 2016: 36,000 hectares.
Potatoes represented a little under half of farm cash receipts in 1997, and a little more than half in 2016. The value of the potato crop has grown considerably, as has the value of other farm products.
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