More than 50 languages are spoken by Lacombe residents whose mother tongue is not English or French, a diversity study has found.
“I think a lot of people were surprised at the fact there are 51 languages identified as being spoken by residents of Lacombe, which I think is a pretty substantial number, considering we’re around 14,000 (population),” said city planner Jennifer Kirchner.
“That was definitely something that I was surprised by, and members of council were interested in hearing about.
“It represents a pretty diverse group of people who have made Lacombe their home. I think it’s really interesting that all these people from these different places have made the choice to locate here.”
According to federal census results, of the 12,710 Lacombe respondents, 1,235 identified themselves as immigrants. Of those, 1,035 said their mother tongue was not English or French.
Almost all of those whose first language is foreign now understand English. Only 55 said they did not understand English, and five of those spoke the country’s other official language, French.
The language snapshot was part of a community diversity report Kirchner prepared for council using information culled from the 2016 federal census.
About six of 10 immigrants who made Lacombe their home were economic immigrants. About one-quarter were sponsored by family members. One in 10 of Lacombe’s immigrants came to Canada as refugees.
Nearly half had come to Canada since 2001.
The statistics indicate how Lacombe has benefitted from immigration, which studies have shown is necessary for Canada to meet its economic needs and maintain a stable population.
Canada’s birth rate of 1.54 births per woman is well below the 2.06 births needed to maintain a healthy population balance.
Kirchner says that Lacombe’s immigrant population could provide valuable insight into what makes it an attractive community to live in and what programs and services are appreciated.
“This knowledge would be incredibly valuable for not only assessing the strengths of services being provided, but could also be used to promote and market the community to the greater region, province and country,” says the report.
The diversity report is one of three created for council. A look at the demographics of the community of 13,985 (13,057 in the 2016 census) was presented last month and a report on the economic stability and education of residents will go to a future council meeting.
Kirchner said it is expected the city will use the information in future reviews of programs, services and other aspects of living in Lacombe. Getting a better handle on the community’s makeup was identified in council’s strategic plan.