New Development Plan in the Making for Niverville


Residents mingle with town staff at Niverville open house Brenda Sawatzky

Niverville’s town council held an open house on October 3. The purpose of the event was to glean feedback from residents, giving council members a firsthand look at how community members would like to see the town develop and thrive in the years to come.

Approximately 75 residents attended the afternoon-to-evening event and were treated to a variety of visual storyboards that helped delineate the many initiatives council has completed in the past year. The boards also asked questions that will help in deciphering the direction the community will take in the future. 

The storyboards included questions regarding snow removal policies, town beautification, future policing services, and multiplex funding options. Questionnaires were located at each station, allowing attendees to participate in solutions to all of these concerns. In an effort to receive a larger level of community feedback, council provided an online survey for all residents unable to attend the event.

Ross Mitchell, project manager of Sison Blackburn Consulting (SBC) Inc., was also on site with a PowerPoint presentation, laying out the details of the background research the company was hired to perform and what these statistics reveal.

Niverville’s current development plan and zoning by-law was created in 2008. Municipal development plans and zoning by-laws are a requirement of the provincial government and need to be updated on an ongoing basis. The cost to Niverville for hiring SBC’s services is $49,970, a sum partially funded through a provincial grant.

SBC’s presentation opened with an introduction on the importance of ongoing community development planning and zoning improvements.

“Land use decisions affect the way people live, work, and play,” they wrote. “Niverville is a rapidly growing community and is experiencing change. Many residents living here today did not live here when the plan was last reviewed. The review is an opportunity to share your ideas and concerns about how your community should evolve over the next 25 years.”

According to SBC, this analysis will enable them to develop population projections, prepare housing and related land requirement estimates, as well as assess the impact of growth on town services such as schools, recreation, and emergency services. Once all the data is collected and analysed, their final report will include recommendations to town council for accommodating future growth and development as well as policy and zoning considerations related to such growth. 

“The development plan is intended to encapsulate the community vision of where it wants to be in the coming decades,” says Mitchell. “The town could decide to be just a bedroom community for upper-income commuters living in single-family dwellings with a gas bar and day-to-day retail. Or [it could be] a ‘complete community’ that accommodates people and families from all socioeconomic levels and lifestyles.” 

Mitchell adds that a complete community considers housing varieties for all life-cycle stages and income levels, encourages local business development and job creation, and provides a full range of services and facilities to support the day-to-day needs of the town and surrounding trade area, including commercial, medical, education, spiritual, and recreational services.

In his mind, Niverville is positioned to easily become a complete community with its strong growth trend, prime location between cities, and rich history of entrepreneurial spirit and volunteerism. He says that this type of community is already well underway here, reflected in facilities such as the Heritage Centre campus, Open Health, the upcoming diagnostic centre, and the proposed multiplex recreation centre and high school.

But Mitchell adds that Niverville needs to continue to foster its inclusive, progressive, can-do spirit in order to continue on that path.

What Trends Say About the Future
SBC’s background study of the community indicated a number of enlightening facts that will assist council in making important decisions. In 2011, 62 percent of Niverville’s residents had lived in town for five years or more while 38 percent had lived in town for less than five years. Comparatively, Steinbach’s ratio of established to newcomer residents was 71 percent to 29 percent, while Winnipeg’s ratio was 87 percent to 13 percent.

Based on the recent census, the town increased in population at an average rate of six percent per year for the last five years. This is five times faster than the province as a whole. Even if the growth rate is reduced to a more modest rate of three percent over the coming years, the community’s population would double by 2041. This has important implications for everything from housing to infrastructure to community services.

Niverville’s current demographics indicate a young and vibrant community with a median age of 31.6 years compared to the province’s median age of 38.3 years. Should this trend continue, the community will need to take a close look at the adequacy of its education, recreation, and childcare services. 

Average household sizes were also compared. Niverville’s average is currently 2.9 persons per household, slightly larger than the province’s average of 2.5. From 2011 to 2016, the number of one- and two-person households increased by 63 percent and 38 percent respectively, making two-person households dominant in Niverville.

Out of the 1,555 total occupied dwellings, almost 75 percent are single-family homes. The remaining 25 percent are multi-family units. Should this ratio hold up in the coming years, Niverville will require an additional 360 to 900 acres of land for residential housing by 2041. Presently, the town has approximately 875 acres of undeveloped land zoned for residential. If growth holds between three and five percent per year, this should be sufficient.

However, should the town continue to grow at the highest estimate of six percent, the town will see a land shortfall of about 500 acres. Though the SBC planning team is confident that the current growth rate won’t be sustained over time, strategic planning and the introduction of more multi-family dwellings may be necessary as the years unfold.

As to the growth of employment, Niverville has about 365 acres of land designated for commercial and industrial development. Adjusting for Niverville’s 60 percent commuter rate and other variables, the town only has enough land to accommodate job growth for a low population growth pattern. 

Along with this data, SBC will be compiling and analysing feedback from Niverville’s residents to prepare a report which will assist council in creating their new development plan and zoning by-law. This plan will be shared with the public at a subsequent open house where participants will be given the opportunity to review the policies, maps, and overall vision for the community. 

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Citizen Poll

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