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Population Growth & Resources


The population of Ontario is expected to increase by 4.5 million over the next 26 years and along with it increased pressures on resources.

The population of Southwestern Ontario is projected to grow from 1.60 million in 2010 to 1.82 million in 2036, an increase of 14.0%. Growth rates within Southwestern Ontario will vary, with Middlesex and Elgin counties growing fastest (32.5% and 21.7% respectively).

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is projected to be the fastest growing region of the province, accounting for almost two-thirds of Ontario’s net population growth by 2036. The GTA’s population is projected to increase from 6.2 million in 2010 to 9.2 million in 2036, a 48.1% increase due mainly to immigration. This population growth represents a significant regional food demand.


The amount of agricultural land has decreased 42% since 1921 and is continuing to decrease as a result of urban sprawl and non-farm development. With many farmers reaching retirement, it is more profitable to sell their land to urban developers.

The availability of minerals in the soil is a pressing agricultural resource issue. Potassium (potash) and phosphorus (phosphates) are necessary for agriculture and are non-renewable. Once they run out, they cannot be manufactured and there is no substitute. Run-off and soil erosion are long-term problems that need to be addressed. Their depletion would make it impossible to feed the world’s projected population of 10 billion by 2060.

Water Quantity and Quality

The average yearly rainfall in Southwestern Ontario is 990mm. The total area in Southwestern Ontario is 36,480 km2. Roughly 32 billion cubic meters of rain falls in this area. It goes into lakes and rivers and to recharge the ground water system.

Livestock in Southwestern Ontario consume more water than we receive in precipitation every year.

Conservation Authorities are studying the supply of surface and ground water, and demands from various sources to determine geographic areas that are under stress.

The use of nitrogen fertilizers has resulted in elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater in many watersheds.