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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Gettin’ bigger ‘n richer

More people are moving to Chelsea than any other community in the Hills — and those who live in the trendy Quebec village make at least 11 per cent more on their paychecks than their western Quebec neighbours.

New census data released by Statistics Canada in mid July reveals that Chelsea is the fastest growing community in the Hills, with the population jumping from 6,909 residents in 2016 to 8,000 in 2021. The increase represents a near 16 per cent population jump over the past five years.

La Pêche saw more moderate growth, with the population jumping close to 10 per cent to 8,636 in 2021. Cantley grew by seven per cent, to 11,449, while Low’s area grew to over 1,000 people (1,010) from 982 in 2016.

The Stats Can data dump also exposes the equity disparity between those who live in Chelsea and those who live up the line in municipalities like Low and Kazabazua. Chelsea residents bring in $66,500 as their median income – nearly 50 per cent more than their Kaz counterparts, which is $34,000. Low’s median income is just $38,800.

The gap widens when comparing household income before taxes, where Chelsea homes pull in $164,000 on average, whereas in Kazabazua, the average household income is just $66,800. To put that into perspective, that’s a 60 per cent income gap between two municipalities that are just 60 kilometres apart.

Chelsea residents earn a whopping 62 per cent more than the rest of the province, as the median income for all of Quebec is $40,800 compared to Chelsea’s $66,500. Household income creates an even wider gap, with Chelsea households earning 78 per cent more than the province’s $92,000.

When the financial data is broken down into gender, men are still earning significantly more than women in the workplace. According to the data, men in the MRC des Collines region earn 13 per cent more on their paychecks than women do. The gap is even wider in Chelsea, where the median income for men is $71,500, while women earn $8,000 less ($63,300).

When looking at the Hills’ sunshine earners – those who make over $100,000 – Chelsea is well-represented, with 1,780 residents making the list in 2021: more than 1,000 men (1,010) and 770 women earned more than $100,000.

It’s another wide gap when comparing sunshine earners in other municipalities, as Cantley came in second with 1,585 residents earning more than $100,000 in 2021. La Pêche reported 600 sunshine earners, while Low and Kaz reported 55 and 30 respectively.

Lac-Sainte-Marie appears to be the fastest growing area for cottagers, as the town saw a whopping 19.6 per cent population growth over the past five years. According to the data, just over a third of all private dwellings in the town are “occupied by usual residents,” meaning close to two-thirds of Lac-Sainte- Marie residents are cottagers or other part-time residents.

To find out more about Canada’s census data, visit the following link:

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