My home town Vaxholm, 35 km north of Stockholm, is struggling with its smallness. As I see it local politicians are posed with a dilemma.
No one would doubt that the town's smallness is a (if not the) major attractor of new citizens. People consiously chose to leave the bigger suburbs to Stockholm and Stockholm city itself to enjoy things like more space, more community and closeness to nature and water.
The dilemma is that this is making the town grow. More people are moving in than out. Also, a vast amount of the new citizens (including myself) are families with young children – thus increasing the demand for services such as utilities, housing, schools, day care, sports, culture, etc.
And – in order to finance this growth – the town needs to grow more. Because once a large investment is about to be made (in a school for instance) it is only natural to build in assumptions of continued growth to make the investments "profitable". Hence, local politicians start consciously and sub-consciously to focus on growth and make the small town bigger. In this process they tend to be surprised that there is resistance to growing the town.
As much as I am sceptical to people's general resistance to change, I can in this case see the logic. People move to Vaxholm because it is small. When politicians seem to design away the smallnes people get frustrated over politicians doing away with the most valuable asset of our town.
A more interesting, but probably also more difficult discussion would be to develop a strategy for the town that embeds smallnes instead of growth. What exciting development options could pan out from such a process?