Lambton County’s population grew by just over 1,000 in 2019, according to estimates by Statistics Canada.
The total estimated population for the 11 municipalities that make up the county – and the three First Nations within its borders – was 132,243 in 2019, compared to 131,236 in 2018, according to a report prepared by Lambton’s infrastructure and development services office.
The estimates are a “snapshot” of the populations Statistics Canada calculates using birth, death and immigration numbers based on the 2016 census count, the report said.
Most municipalities saw at least a small increase in population, except for Enniskillen Township, Lambton Shores, Oil Springs and Dawn-Euphemia Township. All three First Nations had small increases in population.
The population in both of Lambton’s two largest municipalities increased. Sarnia’s estimated population was up 576 from the previous year to 74,779, while St. Clair Township’s estimated population increased by 178 to 14,755.
St. Clair Mayor Steve Arnold said new homes continue to built in the township, particularly in Corunna, while there have been new job opportunities in recent years with the opening of gas-fired electricity plants, as well as the large expansion project currently underway at the Nova Chemicals site just east of Corunna.
The township has attracted more residents because “the taxes are decent” while “we try to have good amenities for the children and adults alike,” including a now-completed walking and biking trail along the parkway running parallel to the St. Clair River and a municipally owned golf course, Arnold said.
Access to the waterfront – an asset the township shares with Lambton communities along Lake Huron – is also an attraction, he said.
“There’s all those things that contribute to a better lifestyle than people might find in larger centres down in London and Toronto, and places like that.”
Arnold said he has also noticed that some young people who left the area for college, university or jobs have been returning.
“They’re looking for places that are affordable and have all those amenities … and I think we hit that on all cylinders,” he said.
Attracting residents is one of the responsibilities of the county-funded Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.
Its work includes connecting international students at Lambton College with local employers, and helping local businesses access government assistance to recruit international workers.
“Really, what we are looking to do is attract folks with in-demand skills,” students, and entrepreneurs, said Cari Meloche, an economic development officer with the partnership.
Late in 2019, staff with the partnership travelled to Oshawa, where auto manufacturing jobs had been lost, and provided workers there with information about opportunities in Lambton, she said.
“We show them examples of affordable living in our area,” Meloche said. “We talk up our lifestyle – short commutes and that work-life balance.”
She said staff at the partnership attend job fairs in other communities armed with information about businesses in Lambton that are hiring because “ultimately, that’s what will drive people to our area.”
The partnership has also hosted bus trips to Lambton by highly-skilled recent immigrants to Canada and entrepreneurs looking for investment opportunities, she said.
During the pandemic restrictions, the partnership has been using social media and other digital tools to make those connections with potential residents.
Statistics Canada estimates of 2019 population in Lambton County communities:
- Brooke-Alvinston: 2,391
- Dawn-Euphemia Township: 2,122
- Enniskillen Township: 2,794
- Lambton Shores: 11,050
- Oil Springs: 635
- Petrolia: 6,010
- Plympton-Wyoming: 8,393
- Point Edward: 2,038
- Sarnia: 74,779
- St. Clair Township: 14,755
- Warwick Township: 3,924
- Aamjiwnaag First Nation: 667
- Kettle and Stony Point First Nation: 1,056
- Walpole Island First Nation: 1,629