Wagga community leaders say infrastructure, healthcare and housing need to be ramped up if the city is to reach its aspirational population target.
While the state government is unlikely to achieve its goal of 100,000 population goal by 2038, experts say business, health, and infrastructure expansion remain key to a positive future for Wagga.
Serena Hardwick, from the Wagga Business Chamber, said the employment aspect of the population boom remained "really safe", with employers in 2021 struggling to fill a surge in vacancies.
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"We need to start thinking about other things are going to impact that: housing, cultural services, the things that offer us the lifestyle," she said.
"I think there's this perspective that there aren't a lot of job availabilities ... We're in a good position that there will be more jobs.
"In terms of job opportunities there's never been a better time in Wagga to progress your career, depending on your field."
Wagga cardiologist Gerard Carroll, who took part in the 2019 panel, said Wagga's health services were currently "not enough" to cater for both the city's residents and those who travel from elsewhere in the region.
"We need to expand further. One of these [factors] is the increasing population, the next is the aging population," he said.
"I guess in particular there is a degree of de-skilling of the small centres in terms of acute care, doctors on call ... so a lot more comes to Wagga which puts a lot of pressure on existing resources."
Professor Carroll said the city was well positioned with very good infrastructure at the two hospitals but would need to increase its service provision with time.
- Health sector prepares for ageing strain amid push to 100,000
- Wagga's road to 100,000 to rely heavily on migration
- Courses must be tailored to solve city's future skill gaps
- High density housing a reality of city's population boom
- Youth speak out about city's shortfalls as leaders plan for growth
- City needs face-to-face health services to support population surge
- Building up ready workforce key to attracting businesses
Other services are already feeling the strain of Wagga's almost 68,000 residents.
St Vincent de Paul Wagga Central Council president Peter Burgess said the city's lack of social and affordable housing had reached "crisis level".
"Those people who may be catered for in social housing are being forced into the commercial rental scheme and they're struggling to do that [and] as Wagga grows, there's more of that," he said.
"You can't have an aspiration of 100,000 people but say in that growth that the poor can look after themselves."
Mayor Greg Conkey acknowledged the "very tight" rental market and said the city was "fast running out of residential land".
However he said Wagga "generally accommodates" the majority of housing requirements and pointed to a number of new social and private housing developments, including those in the city's expanding northern and southern fringe suburbs.
Cr Conkey said Wagga City Council would continue working to meet the needs of a growing population.