News Local

On the rise

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Petrolia's population has increased nearly four per cent since 2011. Melissa Schilz/The Topic

Petrolia's population has increased nearly four per cent since 2011. Melissa Schilz/The Topic

Petrolia is growing according to Canadian census data released this week.

The population rose from 5,528 in 2011 to 5,742 in 2016, a 3.9 per cent increase. An impressive feat, considering several nearby communities have seen their population shrink.

Brooke-Alvinston saw their population decrease by 5.4 per cent, while Enniskillen Township’s population dropped by 4.6 per cent. Oil Springs also saw a decrease of eight per cent in their population since 2011.

In a county where populations have been dwindling, what is it that allows Petrolia to keep growing?

Mayor John McCharles said it’s because people like small town living, but they like having accessible amenities too.

“There’s a number of things that attract people, but when you put them all together, it’s a fairly exciting place to live,” he said.

Despite being a small town, they offer everything you would find in a bigger city, so there’s often no need to leave town to get what you need.

“We’ve got a lot of amenities here, the hospital and the schools, community centre and arena,” he said. “We have doctors here; the medical care is good.”

McCharles said there’s a wide array of things that attract people to Petrolia beyond healthcare, including shopping and culture. With a downtown that is growing and a successful theatre company offering more shows every year, he said he wasn’t too surprised to see the town grow.

He said he’s seen new people coming into town all the time, and that’s because Petrolia is a great place to live.

“We’re building lots of houses here and there’s lots of new people moving into Petrolia,” he said.

“It’s pleasant to know we’re still growing.”

McCharles gave credit to business owners in the downtown, saying they’ve helped to make it more vibrant and an attraction for out of town shoppers. There’s also plenty of events happening year round, from music to hockey games and summer events like Art in the Park and PizzaFest, just to name a few.

There’s also been steady improvements to roads and infrastructure, a positive factor when looking for a new place to settle.

McCharles said he’s looking forward to seeing Petrolia expand even further, and while the rate of growth may not be as high as other towns and cities, he’s happy to see it increase steadily over the years.

“It’s good news,” he said. “I think we’ll continue to grow.”