Ballarat population nears 100,000

Ballarat's population is on the cusp of 100,000, according to data released this month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.The ABS release is an estimate of the resident populations of areas of Australia, updated to 30 June 2010.Almost 2000 people made Ballarat their home between 2009 and 2010 ? the fastest growth rate of any regional Victorian centre and the 14th fastest growth rate of any local government area in Victoria.At June 30 last year, an estimated 96,000 lived in Ballarat, up from 94,000 in 2009 and an estimated 92,000 in 2008.If the trend continues, Ballarat should reach a six-figure population by June next year.Ballarat's growth to June 30, 2010 was 2.1 per cent, faster than Greater Bendigo (1.7 per cent) and Greater Geelong (1.7 per cent).The statistics are estimated within local government areas, which is why Greater Bendigo, taking in the towns of Elmore, Heathcote and Marong, reached 100,000 in 2008.According to the ABS, towns as close as Creswick, just 18km from Ballarat, do not contribute to the city's official population.Ballarat's population growth per person was behind Greater Geelong (3600) but ahead of third-placed Greater Bendigo (1800).Ballarat City's destinations and connections director Jeff Pulford said there were many reasons why 2000 people each year were calling Ballarat home."It's such an easy town to live in," he said."Land and house prices are cheaper here than in Melbourne, traffic isn't an issue and the lifestyle here is great."Mr Pulford said council expected to grow by about a third of its current population in just 15 years."Council have been planning for this for some time and we have a clear vision of where we want to go," he said."In fact, the driver for much of what we're doing and planning at the moment is population growth."According to the ABS, Melbourne is also enjoying incredible growth, with the state capital growing at a rate of 1500 people per week ? the fastest of any capital city.At June 2010, there were an estimated 4.08 million people residing in the Melbourne statistical division, an increase of 79,000 people or 2.0 per cent since June 2009. Melbourne had the largest growth of any capital city in 2010, a feat it has achieved for the past nine years.

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