While there are predictions about Greater Sudbury’s population stagnation over the next decades, there are positive indications another scenario is possible.
“Sudbury is only city north of the French River to show growth over the past decades,” said Jean-Charles Cachon, a professor of marketing and management at Laurentian University.
The population declined from 169,580 in 1971 to 152,470 in 1986, but it has grown slowly back to 165,000 in 2017. Hemson Consulting – hired by the city – predicts Greater Sudbury’s population is expected to rise to 176,000 by 2036, with a workforce of about 83,000.
Sudbury’s mineral wealth and mining expertise will continue to be its main economic advantage but economic stability is enhanced because the city is a regional centre offering many amenities such as shopping, post-secondary schools and health care services, said Cachon.
The market for Sudbury retailers includes northwestern Quebec as well as northeastern Ontario. For the past 25 years, Sudbury has had the highest retail per capita in Ontario, Cachon said.
“We basically draw people within five hours of driving. And there is the advantage that people from Quebec can be served in French.”
As the world’s population grows and creates a larger market for consumer products, it will create demand for base metals.
“The need for new metals will continue to grow; and therefore, the economy of Sudbury and Northern Ontario should grow,” said Cachon.
“In the 1990s, there were one billion people enjoying the ‘Western way of life.’ Between 2000 and 2010, that number doubled, and by 2030, it is likely this number will have grown to three billion people.” These emerging economies will create demand for cars, appliances and
Cachon foresees continued growth in mining service industries and manufacturing that will export their services and products to other countries.
Sudbury is located in the Great Lakes Economic Basin, one of the large manufacturing areas in the world. It includes two Canadian provinces and eight American states with a combined population of 102 million.
With improved transportation infrastructure, such as the extension of Highway 400, Sudbury is well positioned for growth.
A longer runway at the airport for cargo planes as well as improved rail for freight would stimulate further economic growth, the professor said.
Cachon has been teaching organizational strategy at the Faculty of Management since 1983 and is a former honorary consul of France.