By: Owen Munro/Hope Standard
Hope is seeing more residents moving into town, but despite moderate population growth, Mayor Wilfried Vicktor still sees the district’s future as bright.
According to Statistics Canada 2016 census data released on Feb. 8, the District of Hope’s population grew from 5,969 people to 6,181 between 2011 and 2016. That’s a 3.6 per cent increase, but it lags behind the six per cent increase across the valley.
But Vicktor believes there is still an influx of people that will move to Hope in the future, citing concerns over housing in parts of the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver as well as the continued efforts by council to attract new business and more jobs.
“I think there will be significant growth in the future. Hope is a very desirable place to live,” Vicktor said. “I don’t think there’s ever been as much interest in Hope as there currently is.”
He says living in Hope is very much a lifestyle choice and a lot of people are unimpressed with things like traffic congestion in Metro Vancouver, so the district makes sense as a place to live. But he stressed that they are always looking at opportunities to grow, as the role of municipal government isn’t just to govern, but to be a beacon of trust and business savvy.
“I think the [key] in any municipality is to be business-friendly,” he said. “Government, whether it be municipal, provincial or federal does not create jobs itself, it creates an environment that is employment-friendly. We just have to make sure we’re ready.”
Planning for the future isn’t just relying on council to make Hope an attractive place to live, as the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce also plays a big role in supporting local business and making sure there is plenty of it in the district.
Lloyd Forman, the Chamber’s president, has been working on a number of things to stoke some growth in Hope, and feels some of that change may come in attracting a younger generation of workers to lay their roots down in Hope.
“We do need to find ways to get younger people into Hope, and with good paying jobs,” Forman said. “They can afford a house, start a family. That’s the future, so any modest increase sure beats the bells off a decrease.”
The Chamber has worked with council on a number of initiatives, but they have developed a great reputation in the community for some of the other things they have on the go. That includes a dinner tonight, March 1, where Brent Buerck, a city administrator in Perryville, Mo., will come to Hope to deliver a keynote speech about how his county was able to find huge success turning similar industries into growth and profitability, sparking a rebirth in the area.
“He’s got the very same size town, around 6,000 people, and they went through the same situation four or five years ago,” he said. “Instead of going to the state or federal people, they formed their own group and got thousands of jobs going.”
Forman also believes Hope is trending in the right direction, saying it’s just a matter of time until they get there.