In 2002, 111,580 people, or 48.7% of the 229,091 immigrants who came to Canada settled in the Toronto CMA.90 When interprovincial migrants are included, Ontario as a whole received a net increase of 145,573 people in 2001, most of whom settled in the Toronto CMA.91 Short of a major change in federal immigration policy or other parts of Canada attracting a greater share of immigrants (both of which are unlikely in the short to medium term), the Toronto-related region must produce enough additional housing to accommodate the equivalent of another Barrie every year.
Within the Toronto-related region, Simcoe County is the beneficiary of substantial amounts of within-province migration. In the past five years, Simcoe County has attracted between 7,000 and 9,000 intra-provincial migrants.92 In particular, Census data show that the Toronto CMA is experiencing a net out-migration of people aged 65 and over.93 These people are attracted to the recreational areas of Simcoe County. For example, 22.2% of Wasaga Beach residents are 65 years of age or older, versus 13.2% for the County and 12.9% for Ontario.
At the same time, employment opportunities are driving growth in Simcoe. One of the strong selling points of Alliston, notes OPDI project manager Allan Duffy, is its proximity to strong and growing employment areas, including the recently-adopted 405 hectare industrial and commercial area.
Barrie in particular is experiencing rapid employment growth. Between 1996 and 2001, the number of jobs in Barrie grew by 38%, even as its population grew by 31%. Manufacturing sector employment has grown by half, and the transportation, professional/scientific and health care sectors have doubled.94
Many developers and planners promote South Simcoe as the most obvious location for urban expansion. The labeling of South Simcoe municipalities as "GTA North" in real estate listings and the inclusion of Bradford West Gwillimbury and New Tecumseth in Statistics Canada's definition of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area underscore this reality.