Narva city government is concerned about the decreasing population and developing the living environment, and industrial parks are seen as a way to combat the decline.
Data from the Population Register shows the population of Narva decreased by almost 2,000 last year. While one of the reasons for the large decline is increasingly accurate data collection methods, neither the birth rate nor the arrival of new residents in the town has been able to compensate for the departure of residents.
Last year nearly 2,500 inhabitants of Narva found a place to live in other municipalities. Mayor of Narva Aleksei Jevgrafov (Center) says he is concerned.
He said: "Of course it is unfortunate, and sad news, but we will pay attention to it and give people the opportunities [to think] that living in Narva would be cool. There are parks, recreational facilities, concert programs, and we work closely with industrial parks and we meet investors all the time who are willing to come to Narva and set up factories here. Only then will Narva make money and be able to channel the revenue it collects from people into its development."
Teet Kuusmik, member of the Ida-Virumaa industrial areas development foundation management board, said the decline in population would not affect their activities and new companies will not lack employees.
The number of people leaving the Narva area is influenced by societal attitudes, he added
"People also take background context into account when making decisions. In my opinion, it is very important today not to sow hysteria around the oil shale sector," Kuusmik said.
"I think the oil shale sector needs to come to a so-called peace today, to adjust to new trends, which are happening in the world, and actually give people a message that the oil shale industry is continuing and there will be new opportunities which create jobs," he added.
Over the last 25 years, Narva has lost almost a third of its population. This means the urban infrastructure built for 80,000 people hosts only around 56,000 residents, a quarter of whom are retired. As a result, Narva has started to prepare a new master plan for its future.
Mayor Jevgrafov said: "We need to look at how life in Narva is changing, where more people are living today and this depends on where we contribute more financially. We need to pay more attention to keeping the population at 55,000 people. I, as mayor, would like nothing less."
However, according to projections from Statistics Estonia, the population will continue to decline and the number of people living in Narva is likely to fall below 55,000 within three years.
Editor: Helen Wright