[URBAN NOTE] "Spillover: when the city comes to the country": Marcus Gee on Shelburne
Marcus Gee's extended feature in The Globe and Mail reports on how Shelburne, a farming town far to the northwest of Toronto that I frankly had never heard about before today, is starting to be overtaken by the effects of the Toronto real estate boom. That the return trip to Toronto for commuters is on the order of five hours is apparently not an issue for buyers.
The soaring new office and condominium towers of downtown Toronto have come to stand for the dynamism of Canada’s biggest city. But if you really want to understand the staggering growth of greater Toronto, don’t look up, look out – way, way out. Look at what is happening to tiny Shelburne, fully 100 kilometres from the city centre.
For generations, this was a sleepy farming community where everybody knew everyone. Farmers would drive their cattle down the muddy main street to board trains to Toronto slaughterhouses. Motorists on the road to the ski chalets of Collingwood or the beaches of Lake Huron would pass by with hardly a second thought.
Today, little Shelburne is the second-fastest-growing town in all of Canada.
New census figures show it grew 39 per cent between 2011 and 2016, second only to Blackfalds, Alta., near Red Deer, among municipalities with a population of at least 5,000 and located outside a major metropolitan area.
People from down the road are flocking to Shelburne (its official slogan: “A people place, a change of pace”) to take advantage of the fresh air, open spaces and house prices that are still in the realm of sanity. Some commute all the way to downtown Toronto and back, an odyssey that can take five hours, round trip.