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Regina’s immigrant population rising swiftly



REGINA — As demographics in Regina change, city officials are making sure they know what the population will look like before making the city change with it.

And 20 years from now the city will look much more diverse than it does today, shows a new study by the City of Regina examining aboriginal, immigrant, disabled and senior populations.
As part of Design Regina, the city’s official community plan process, projections indicate that by 2030, one-third of Regina’s population (or 87,155 people) will be made up of immigrants, compared to 11 per cent (20,554) today.
As well, aboriginal people will make up 12 per cent (31,787), up from 8.9 per cent (18,604). The aboriginal group is also aging, with the fastest growing demographic being those aged 55 or older.
The number of those with disabilities is also on the rise with a projection of 50,900 (20.4 per cent) for 2030, up from 36,600 (18.7 per cent) now.
The figures are based on a population estimate of 195,820 today and around 250,000 in 2030.
“There’s all kinds of implications in terms of things like transportation services, what are the demands going to be and, collectively, what (the figures) really show is the extent of the transformation of the next 10 or 20 years,” said Bruce Rice, a survey and policy research analyst with the city’s planning and sustainability branch.
While Design Regina will eventually come up with the official community plan through the coming years, some —including Neelu Sachdev, executive director at the Regina Immigrant Women Centre — have ideas of what needs to happen in the city to make it a reality.
“We need better transit, more accessible programming … and in different languages so those who don’t yet speak English can participate, child care … housing,” said Sachdev, who has already been part of Design Regina’s stakeholder consultations.
“If it’s going to be 33 per cent, we may have to model ourselves behind one of the other cities in Canada where there’s this many immigrants residing.”
Once those coming from other countries have been here for awhile and are settled, Sachdev said other needs — like job opportunities — will have to be met.
“Post-secondary education is becoming more and more of a need, not just for the education but in ensuring that credentials from back home are translated properly and they’re placed in an institution where they can have further training,” she said.
“There is a real possibility that these figures will happen if we’re aware we need to make those preparations in time. At this point, we’re playing catch-up. Who knows? It could go down or they could go even higher. But we have to make sure we accommodate all of them in this city.”
Rice said since some of these population trends have been happening in Regina for some time, the city has already adapted to meet new needs.
“On a day-to-day basis with the aboriginal community, you see the growing capacity of some of the organizations looking at services for their members — housing, employment,” he said. “We’re doing a lot more work with these organizations. Just the level of activity is something we’re seeing there.”
The completed official community plan is expected to be ready to go to city council in late 2013.

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