We’ve finally reached a population of 100,000 people.

It took 150 years to get to 100,000.

How many years will it take to get to 200,000 if we grow like we have in the past 25 years?

Well, the answer is not 150 years. It’s 25 years. By 2040, there will likely be 200,000 people living here.

That’s like adding the city of Boulder, Colorado to the Gallatin Valley.

The good news: we can maintain what makes the Gallatin Valley so special – even as we grow.

How we grow will make all the difference. It will make or break our quality of life– it will determine the traffic we’ll deal with, the taxes we’ll pay, the quality of our air and water, the health of our economy, the beauty or ruination of our mountain views.

We can get this right, but it demands vision, leadership, and a willingness on the part of our city and county leaders to cooperate.

Fortunately, a local planning expert wrote a guide that shows how our local governments can cooperate. We need them to adopt the primary recommendation of the study: a “Planning Coordinating Committee”, modeled after the existing Transportation Coordinating Committee.

UPDATE: The Planning Coordinating Committee is finally up and running, and making some very promising progress. Commissioners, Planning Board members, and staff from Gallatin County, the City of Bozeman, and the City of Belgrade have started addressing the future of the Gallatin Valley in constructive and smart ways.

And, with Montana State University and Professor Ralph Johnson’s help, they will be using the Envision Tomorrow program to create alternative growth scenarios for the Gallatin Valley, with maps and data showing how the future might look, depending upon the alternative. The scenarios will come in various flavors – a “business as usual” future in which we continue to grow in the same low-density, spread-out pattern of the past few decades, a scenario that preserves the most agricultural lands, a scenario that builds the most cost-efficient public infrastructure, and a scenario that results from most of the growth occurring in our existing cities and towns.

Stay tuned to our blog and our Facebook page and we’ll make sure you have the opportunity to help create or choose the scenarios you think are best for our future. 

And let your local city and county commissioners what you want for our wonderful Gallatin Valley’s future. Please contact us if you have questions.