Halifax may have a competitor for fastest growing area in Nova Scotia

Halifax may have been the only area in Nova Scotia to show double digit population growth over the last few censuses, but that longstanding trend may change when the 2021 census figures are released.

Comparing the Canadian census of 2016 to last year's Statistics Canada population estimates, Halifax grew by around 11 per cent. Over that same time, Kentville grew by seven and a half per cent. Other Nova Scotian towns only increased by around one or two per cent.

"One of the big pushes for Kentville is that they are the hub financially, health-wise, and there's a lot of schools in Kentville. So there's a lot of draw from the surrounding area," Nick Ogden of Press Realty said.

Nick Ogden of Press Realty
Nick Ogden of Press Realty

Other realtors mentioned the impact of COVID-19 on the growth of Kentville. More specifically, the impact that working from home.

"Now that we're working on the internet across the province and through the pandemic, people realized we can work from home, and that model in itself is going to change everything," Sandi Carroll a Realtor for Keller Williams Select Realty said.

The current placeholder for the second most populated area of the province, Cape Breton, is known for having an economy based on forestry and fishing. Meanwhile, Kentville is growing an economic reputation for its recent growth of wine & cider production.

"It's just been extraordinary how many of our vineyards have popped up over the past few years, which has really helped drive tourism,” Tammy Hines the Managing Broker at Keller Williams Select Realty said.

Luckett Vineyards in Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Luckett Vineyards in Wolfville, Nova Scotia

With the good that population growth can bring to an area, it can also cause concern for housing supply, of which Halifax residents have been all too familiar with.

"Everywhere is feeling it… supply is nowhere near where demand is,” Ogden said.

Hines, who stressed the need for more affordable housing, said she actually believes Kentville is already experiencing such a crisis.

Cape Breton has been the second most populous area of Nova Scotia for decades according to Statistics Canada. With Kentville's recent growth, there's speculation from realtors that the Annapolis Valley will overtake Cape Breton as the number two region of the province.

“One thousand per cent yes” said Hines. “The winters are pretty desolate up there… You don’t get that kind of winter shutdown so much in the hub of the valley,” she said.

In the 2016 census, Cape Breton island registered a population of 132,010 and the Annapolis Valley recorded a population of 123,749. The current figures are a mystery as Statistics Canada only provides yearly estimates for metropolitan or agglomerate areas. The 2021 numbers will be released on Feb. 9, 2022.

"For population, I don't know if it will exceed Cape Breton. But I think in terms of GDP per region, I would the say the Valley will probably overtake it to a degree just given what's being put in right now and the business that you're seeing,” Ogden said.