SUMMERSIDE – It was a full house for a breakfast with the Premier in Summerside on Tuesday hosted by the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce.
Community representatives gathered to hear Premier Wade MacLauchlan recap 2016 economic and population growths, saying the Island is “in the passing lane”.
“Each year is an opportunity to review together, how we’re doing and consider where there are opportunities to work together and up our game. Each series, we’re building up those steps.”
At each seat was a paper with graphs and charts depicting GDP levels, investments, debt levels, and population growth levels.
“For Prince Edward Island to get ahead we have to be better than the average, and that’s in fact what we can see. I don’t think most Prince Edward Islanders expect us to be out-performing the rest of Canada but we did indeed in 2016 represent real growth.”
Graphics showed full-time jobs were up by 2,400 over last year as of August 2017, debt levels look to plateau in the coming years. They also indicated the Island’s Median age is decreasing while population could grow to about 200,000 by 2056 with the working age group also increasing.
While numbers are great, said Summerside Mayor Bill Martin, there are things to continue working on.
“If you look at GDP alone, tourism and the lobster market have had a big role to play in growth. “
He added, “Numbers don’t tell the full story.”
But Martin does agree that things are looking up for the Island.
“If you talk to anyone in the business or real estate world, they’ll tell you this is the best year they’ve had. It’s a positive indication of where the Island is moving, too, as well as Summerside.”
The Island’s lifestyle is a contributing factor to population growth he added.
“If you took my highest salary and added a zero to the end of, it wouldn’t be enough to make me move to Toronto. That’s not a slam against Toronto or Ontario, but I think it says a lot about the lifestyle here. People move here for it. It’s great to see that our population will surpass 150,000. We’re targeting immigration and it’s working.”
Martin is confident an immigration aid worker in the Prince County area will also bring success.
“All our agents are in Charlottetown. It’s a great thing that we’ll have one in this region. It’s critical.”