NewsMontana News


Butte prepares for anticipated population growth

Posted at 8:56 AM, Dec 30, 2020

BUTTE — The housing market is booming and industries from film production to rail have been chugging into Butte.

Officials are expecting significant growth in Butte over the next few years and some think the Mining City can handle it.

“We’re not to the point where folks worry we’re going to turn into the next Bozeman or the next Missoula and be stressed with the growth because we’re at capacity in a lot of places and it’s stressing out infrastructure, stressing out the public resources that we have. I don’t think we’re at the place,” said Karen Byrnes, the director of Community Development.

Butte’s population has been steady at about 36,000 for years. But the city has historically been more than doubled that population, so there’s room to grow.

“We may have pinch points in certain places where we may need to upsize some of our infrastructure. I’m talking about sewer and water lines and things like that, but those are things that we can work on and develop and that’s what we’ve been planning for,” said Byrnes.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, the real estate business in Butte this year has been on fire.

“The residential home market in town has been through the roof this year and any real estate agent you talk to has a big giant grin on their face because homes are being sold quickly,” said BLDC Director Joe Willauer.

With added growth, there’s always that fear that Butte will lose its quaint, small-town charm, but economic leaders say there’s a way to grow and still not lose that thing that makes Butte so … Butte.

“We also want to maintain the uniqueness that, I mean, to be frank, that makes Butte cool, and a lot of those conversations are being had. I’m confident we can maintain that we’re able to grow while also keeping that character and uniqueness,” said Willauer.