The City of Lethbridge can now brag about being the third largest city in the province.
Lethbridge snatched the title from the City of Red Deer by almost 500 people, according to the 2019 municipal census results released Monday.
Red Deer is home to 101,002 residents, according to a city release. Lethbridge’s number stands at 101,482, according to the city website.
The difference in population between the two cities is 480 people.
The census is a snapshot of a community’s population at one point in time, the City of Red Deer stated in a release.
Keeping an accurate count of Red Deer’s population helps ensure the city receives its fair share of funding from the provincial and federal governments. This money is used to support growth, programs and services in the community.
For 2019, the city estimates it will receive approximately $249.47 per person in grant funding.
“Maintaining a population of over 100,000 is an indicator of a return to growth stability for our city after a net population loss in 2016,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
“Over the last number of years, our local economy has been substantially impacted by the provincial recession, largely as a consequence of the decline in the energy sector, but as the third largest region in the province central on the QEII corridor, we continue to serve as central Alberta’s primary trade and service centre.”
The last municipal census was taken in 2016, and Red Deer’s population was 99,832. The city will release a full census report, with detailed demographics, by the end of July.
The 2018 municipal census for the City of Lethbridge shows the population there was inching close to 100,000 (shy by just 231 people), which was an increase of 1,571 (a 1.6 per cent increase) from 2017.
When the census was underway, Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick More told the Advocate that being the third largest city in Alberta gave Red Deerians some bragging rights, as he remembered the city hitting the 100,000 mark in 2015.
He called it a proud moment for all Red Deerians.
More had also predicted Red Deer would come out the winner in the close race when the censuses were underway in both cities in May.
On Monday, More said with a chuckle he was proven wrong.
“It’s good we showed growth, but I think when comparing the two cities we (central Alberta region) may have more opportunities for people to live in smaller communities outside Red Deer,” he said, giving examples of Sylvan Lake and Red Deer County.
“Whether that’s for lower realty prices or taxes.”
He also noted it’s important to know the number of people that did not participate in the census in each community for a closer comparison.