Demographics: Regions revitalized by the pandemic

Many city dwellers escaping the stress of the pandemic have succumbed to the regions great lure to rebuild their lives, much to the delight of several MRCs who have faced decline for years.

In the past two years, about twenty Regional County Municipalities (RCMs), which have just been in decline for several consecutive years, have regained their population.

According to the participants surveyed, this situation is inextricably linked to the pandemic and the resulting urban exodus The newspaper. And several communities are scrambling to capitalize on this desire to reconnect with nature (see other text below).

“People wanted to get out of the inner cities, out of urban areas, to gain space. […] Unlike in the big cities, experiencing the pandemic here was not difficult,” says Claire Bolduc, prefect of the MRC de Témiscamingue.

“Teleworking, which has become very common in the last two years, has definitely had a major impact on people who have settled in the region,” explains MRC des Etchemins Director General Judith Leblond.

Start again

Alexis Beaudet is one of those people who have traded the stress and bustle of city life for the peace and quiet of the region.

In December 2020, the single father sold his small loft in Montreal to settle in Victoriaville in Center-du-Québec a few months later. With his 11-year-old daughter, he wants to “put down roots on a good foundation”.

“Being sandwiched between four walls and almost being unable to go outside or see our loved ones got me thinking. I wondered what I could do to provide a good environment for my daughter. She was my priority,” explains the 37-year-old.

Mr. Beaudet has fallen in love with the region and its character so much that he is trying to encourage his family and friends to settle there.

“The pandemic was the ideal context to make this bet. And I think I won it!” launches the man-turned-pedagogical adviser at Cégep de Victoriaville.

victim of their success

Elected officials from Gaspésie have heard many such stories over the past 24 months. So much so that several RCMs are now falling victim to their own success.

Not long ago, the region had to cope with a significant decline, closing schools, services and businesses. But the trend has reversed, and the region’s attractiveness amid a health crisis has something to do with it, we’re assured.

“Now there is a lack of space in schools, in day-care centers and in housing. For me it is a big problem because it shows that vitality is returning, “explains the prefect of the MRC du Rocher-Percé, Samuel Parisé.

You have benefited from the pandemic

MRC Pop. 2019 Pop. 2021 growth
granite 21,405 21,886 +481 (+2.2%)
Les Etchemins 16,475 16,843 +368 (+2.2%)
The sources 14,301 14,602 +301 (+2.1%)
East Charlevoix 15,303 15,550 +247 (+1.6%)
Temiscouata 19,245 19,481 +236 (+1.2%)
Montmagny 22,558 22,776 +218 (+1%)
Abitibi 24,725 24,943 +218 (+0.9%)

Source: Quebec Statistical Institute

Attract families with originality

Competitions, free land, free housing, housing subsidies, tax freezes… Municipalities are willing to do whatever it takes to win over families and entrepreneurs.

Last year the MRC de Montmagny gave away land and free rent of a house for a year to encourage families to settle in the village of Sainte-Apolline-de-Patton to save the primary school there from being threatened with closure.

blow

“We expected 20 or 25 registrations. We ended up with more than 300. Obviously there are many families who have thought about it,” says Nancy Labrecque, Director General of the MRC.

Fueled by that excitement, the organization is back this year with a new competition open through October 31st. This time, $100,000 will be awarded to an entrepreneur who intends to carry out a project in the region.

The latter also benefit from free housing in Sainte-Lucie-de-Beauregard for a year, in addition to rental space ranging from $500 to $1,000 per month.

Other incentives

Other places are also doing everything they can to increase the attractiveness of their hometown. In Val-Alain, in Chaudière-Appalaches, a building land donation program with an area of ​​around 1,400 square meters was launched on May 9th.

Two of the three lots to be donated are still available, but the community is also offering lots at $0.95 per square foot as well as an $8,000 grant to build a home.

On the Gaspé side, it’s more the real estate developers who are targeted by the incentives. $2 million in subsidies have been released over the past two years to encourage housing construction.

“Contractors can make up to $10,000 per door. Additional amounts may be added depending on the location of the project,” explains Éric Dubé, Prefect of the MRC de Bonaventure.

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