While a number of new permanent residents are people retiring – some are retiring early due to COVID – not everyone is, and the community is bustling with people.
“The ability to work from home has certainly given people the ability to make it their home,” Kostyna said.
The growth started before the pandemic and with one village incorporating in 1977, they are now seeing the results of time.
“It was something that was happening before COVID, you know, people were finding out about Candle Lake. Now we are in this place where second and third generation people come here,” Kostyna said.
Previously, paNOW reported on the booming property sales market in the village in 2017.
In 2020, several months into the pandemic, things got crazy.
According to real estate agents, buyers were looking for security in more remote locations and their desire to buy was aided by a low interest rate.
$850,000 lakefront property sold in three days.
However, many of them were people looking for second homes.
Now, the most recent census numbers show a shift in the number of permanent residents and it’s not just being felt in Candle Lake.
Nearby Christopher Lake saw a 4.5% growth to 306 residents and the RM of Lakeland saw an even bigger spike with a 42% increase in population.
The population of the MR has grown from 915 to 1,300 in five years and this growth is also confirmed by development statistics.
In 2018 and 2019, the MR had 272 and 277 permits issued, with the greatest growth in Division 3 near Christopher Lake.
In 2020, 71 permits were issued and in 2021, 64 were issued, with Division 3 still retaining most of the overall development.
People are moving to Lake Country, as it’s called locally, and they’re coming from a few places.
According to Kostyna, some come from Prince Albert, others from Saskatoon and a significant number from out of province.
“A significant number of people I know from Alberta are moving here or buying or building new residences here with the intention of retiring,” he explained. “It may have been people from previous years who had to move to Alberta for employment reasons, but never wanted to leave their homes.”
Most of the people in the community during the tourist season are not locals, and Kostyna estimates that two out of three people are visitors. But even that is changing.
“That has changed over the years. There are more and more permanent residents. This ratio changes a little more every year,” he said.
Growth brings challenges. For the resort village council, it is in the ability to provide services.
Some provincial grants are based on population, so the latest census increase means a $58,000 increase in the $5 million operating and capital budget they work with.
This could buy a new truck for a staff member to do their job.
On the organizational level, the council worked on the repositioning of the village.
A community planning manager position has been added, and council is set to ask residents what they want their community to look like in 10, 20 or even 30 years.
“Any community should understand that change is coming. For us, we are very lucky to see positive changes,” Kostyna said. “Our challenges are different but positive.”
In order to meet their needs with a limited amount of financial resources, they will need to be innovative in their thinking.
On Twitter: @princealbertNOW