Blackfalds seems to have taken the economic downturn in stride — the latest census shows a whopping 16 per increase in population since 2007.
According to the May 1 count, the town has 5,610 residents, up from 4,873 in 2007. A census wasn’t done in 2008.
Town chief administrative officer Corinne Newman was not surprised to see the numbers.
“I figured it would be anywhere from 5,500 to 5,700,” said Newman.
Population growth has been steady at around eight per cent and building permit numbers have also remained strong with a 100 new single-family home permits issued this year already.
“We’re actually seeing a remarkable amount of new building considering what’s going on,” she said, referring to the economic downturn that has gripped the province.
Blackfalds has been on a roll for some time. Since 2001, when the population sat at 3,144, the number of residents has grown 78 per cent.
Hitting the 5,000 mark is a significant milestone because the town is now responsible for providing municipal policing. The town has been preparing for a number of years and is committed to a new police detachment building. It will house local police officers as well as provide space for Red Deer Rural and traffic officers.
Newman said it is expected that five to eight officers will be dedicated to Blackfalds, depending on the size of the town by 2011 when the detachment building will be ready. There will also be 15 rural officers and six in traffic, as well as about three support staff.
The cost of the new building has not yet been determined. “We’re still finishing up the floor plans,” she said.
Census numbers also show the number of dwellings in town has increased to 2,380 from 2,124 in 2007, a 12 per cent increase. It is a sign that there are more people per dwelling, either because of growing families or more people are sharing accommodations to save money.
Accurately counting population is important because many provincial grants are allocated on a per capita basis. Newman said the town hasn’t crunched the numbers yet to determine how much more money may come its way.