It is more and more pressing; the population is aging and businesses have a really hard time finding workers everywhere in Brome-Missisquoi. To address the issue, the MRC, (population 59,724 with 21 municipalities including TBL, Brome and West Bolton) has adopted a strategy that it calls “ambitious, bold and aggressive to attract, over the next 10 years, 10,000 new workers and 6,000 young families.’’ One million dollars will be invested in this strategy in the next three years. It is just a beginning.

Recent figures from the Institut de la Statistique du Québec show that, since 2001, the population aged 50 and over has grown by 48% in Brome-Missisquoi while the less-than-50 have shrunk by 12%. It is estimated that in 13 years by 6%. To mitigate this and to reach its goal, the MRC is asking “everyone to pitch in. It’s a strategy that involves the collaboration of our businesses as partners, our citizens as ambassadors, our municipalities and of course our young people,’’ says Sylvie Beauregard, mayor of Cowansville and chair of the Centre local de développement (CLD).

2000 available jobs

There are 2000 positions available right now in the MRC says Robert Desmarais, its Director General. “There will be people retiring, businesses will expand that will make a difference that will lead to the need of 10,000 new jobs by 2028.’’ To reach its goal the MRC targets the population of Montréal as well as immigrants.

There is a need to improve the availability of affordable housing and public transport, these two elements are viewed as obstacles to the arrival of newcomers.

The MRC program is built around communication tools, regional marketing campaigns and the funding of young people’s projects, all this with a view to position the region as unique and hence make it the first choice of those who want to leave Montréal or those who want to move elsewhere.

The municipalities’ contribution

In an interview with Tempo, TBL Mayor Richard Burcombe agreed that affordable housing and transportation are serious obstacles to the arrival of new people to the region. “We now have in TBL a better water capacity to allow the construction of 400 to 500 new houses. We are ready to contribute to the regional effort. As far as transportation is concerned, it would have to be done with the participation of businesses who need workers’’ says Burcombe. Increasing the population is a positive challenge, it does however come with some negative elements that will have to be looked into explained the mayor. “For example, how will the hospital cope with 10,000 new workers and their families to care for?’’ asks the mayor.

The strategy is in place. Now is time to sit down and to seriously consider all the pros and cons, and also to keep in mind that certain traditional jobs are no longer as attractive to some workers, especially the younger ones.