In 2016, the Population Research Center at Portland State University developed a series of forecast for future population changes for Wasco County through 2066. The full study is available on their website for download here.
Based on their models, Wasco County is predicted to grow by over 4,000 people over the next 19 years and by more than 10,000 people in 50 years. Much of this growth is forecasted to occur in urban areas like Mosier and The Dalles.
For areas outside incorporated urban growth boundaries, the research indicates a gain of nearly 1,000 people in Wasco County by 2035.
In order to accommodate the projected growth, we would like to make sure our land use plans and tools allow flexibility for residential development. A key part of that conversation over the next several years will be to talk about where in the county we would like to see more residential development occur.
In considering where housing should be concentrated, land use planners and our partners have to think about several issues that support residences including infrastructure (roads), public facilities and services (water, sanitary, emergency services), and transportation (traffic patterns). One aspect of consideration is to anticipate and help reduce potential conflict. An example might be the projection that new residents along a road will create traffic that is already heavily used by commercial agriculture operations, and directly impact that commercial activity. We may consider ways to develop other access points to properties, or limit the amount of potential development to help reduce that foreseen conflict. This balancing act is critical to making sure our community is functional for the broad number of activities and uses occurring on the land.
Another element of a population increase is the impact to the economy. Not only do we have to consider where new residents will get their groceries or go to the doctor’s office, but also where they may work if they do so away from home or on the farm. These trips also have an impact on infrastructure, public facilities and services, and transportation that require us to balance our community’s desire for a rural lifestyle against the provision of services.
Over the next few years, as we work together to develop new policies and implementation tools and strategies to help Wasco County grow in a way that’s compatible with our vision, we also will be keeping in mind how those new residents can best share in our community’s goals and where we’d like to see them live, work and play.