Slave Lake population now 7,031
Despite its assurances that its 2006 census was A-okay, Statistics Canada missed quite a few bodies. That was confirmed earlier this month when a local census turned up 328 more residents than the federal effort found a year ago.
The new number brings Slave Lake’s population to 7,031, up from the 6,703 figure that arose from last year’s federal census. Town council heard the good news at its June 21 meeting.
The new number is not as high as some had expected. But it represents a healthy 6.5 per cent growth over the six years since the 2001 federal census pegged Slave Lake’s population at 6,600. That figure was suspect at the time, but nothing was done about it.
Last year, the federal census counted 6,703 Slave Lakers, an increase of only 1.5 per cent over five years, or 103 people. That seemed highly unlikely to anyone who had been paying attention to the growth in the period. It was particularly unappetizing to the Town of Slave Lake, which relies on per capita grants from the federal and provincial governments for such items as policing, roads and sewers. At the meeting, councillor Valerie Tradewell told her colleagues she had been doing some figuring, based on the estimated figure of $300 in grants per resident.
“It’s $129,300 more in per capita grants,” she said, noting that her figure did not include per capita grants to the library and possibly other agencies outside town jurisdiction.
Tom Moore, the town’s administrative services coordinator, told council that the cost to the town of the census was $10,780, the bulk of which goes as a donation to the Rotary Club for conducting the census.
“The Rotary Club did a fantastic job,” he said.
Speaking up for the Rotary Club, Harry Bartlett told council that the census was a lot of work, but on the whole, “it was very favourably received,” by residents.
Council also heard that Alberta Municipal Affairs will accept the new number, and that all grants (federal and provincial) will be based on the new number. That despite the fact that Statistics Canada won’t accept the 7,031 figure for 2006.
Councillor Rob Irwin was clearly not happy with the Stats Can performance. He made a motion that the town write a letter to MP Brian Jean, “expressing our concern about the lack of accuracy of the federal census.” Council passed the motion.
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