Vogar's Population Boom Puts Pressure on Local Infrastructure Skip to content

Vogar’s Population Boom Puts Pressure on Local Infrastructure

By Ragnar Tómas

Photo: “Vogar 2023” by Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Vogar, a municipality on the Reykjanes Peninsula, has experienced a 33% population increase in just over a year, Mbl.is reports. The majority of the new residents are from nearby Grindavík, which was evacuated last year due to geological unrest.

Population growth of 33% in just over a year

The Association of Local Authorities on the Reykjanes Peninsula (Samtök sveitarfélaga á Reykjanes) will hold a meeting today to discuss the status of municipalities along the southern coast, particularly in terms of the effects of volcanic eruptions on residents and communities.

Gunnar Axel Axelsson, the mayor of Vogar, will speak at the meeting, detailing an unprecedented increase in the population of the municipality and the financial and social challenges that accompany it.

“Over the past few weeks, nearly three hundred people have moved here,” Gunnar Axel stated in a recent interview with Mbl.is. “The population has grown by 33% in just over a year, from the beginning of 2023 to March this year, and it looks set to increase further as housing is still being allocated by the rental companies Bríet and Bjarg.”

Last year, there were approximately 1,400 residents in Vogar.

Majority of new residents from Grindavík

According to Gunnar Axel, the majority of the new residents are from Grindavík. They have both purchased properties and obtained apartments through the aforementioned rental companies. It is, however, difficult to determine the exact number of new residents as Grindavík residents have been given the option to register their address temporarily due to circumstances. Gunnar Axel notes that the number is likely underestimated since it depends on whether people register such an address or not.

“The official number is 1,599 who have registered a legal residence and 1,788 including those who have registered an address here. The likely number is close to 1,900,” he says. “This is, of course, a tremendous increase that we naturally did not expect. We did not anticipate such a rapid increase that everything would be filled at the beginning of the year. Our most extreme forecasts have come true in the first days of the year.”

Gunnar says that these numbers only tell half the story because this rapid increase has a significant impact on all infrastructure. “We are at our limits, especially in the schools. The number of children of primary school age has increased by over 40%. We are doing everything we can to provide these people with appropriate services, but we can do no more than our infrastructure and the financial situation of the municipality allows.”

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