Blackfalds growth ‘exciting’

Blackfalds is getting a national reputation for its growing population.

Melodie Stol

Melodie Stol

Blackfalds is getting a national reputation for its growing population.

The community landed among the top 15 Canadian communities with the largest population increases over the last six years, according to Canada’s 2011 Census.

The Statistics Canada list of 709 communities with over 5,000 people included everything from towns to cities to municipalities.

Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol said it’s exciting to be so high on the list.

“Blackfalds is the 14th fastest growing community in Canada,” Stol said on Friday.

“We are the sixth fastest growing community in Alberta, and definitely, in Central Alberta, the winner.”

Blackfalds grew 36.4 per cent, to 6,300 in 2011 from 4,618 in 2006, according to the census results released on Wednesday.

Other Alberta communities in the top 15 across the country were Chestermere at 49.4 per cent, Beaumont at 48.2, Airdrie at 47.1, Leduc at 43.1, and Okotoks at 42.9.

Stol said Blackfalds has seen steady growth, instead of spikes and stalls.

“The most interesting thing is we kept growing right through the worst of the recession. It actually allowed things to be a little bit more manageable in the community.”

Stol, who has lived in Blackfalds since 1991, said the town’s growth made it an attractive place to live and it continues to attract more residents, business and industry.

“People are taking notice of Blackfalds.”

The province should pay close attention as well, she said.

“I think we need some help with the provincial services definitely in Blackfalds, most notably schools.

“We might not need a hospital in Blackfalds, but certainly a health clinic and health education services like they offer through Primary Care Networks.”

The town could also use a bottle depot and a registry office, which are both regulated by the province, she said.

The town has a plan to build a $15-million fieldhouse and outdoor pool complex. It hopes to start construction this year and open in 2014.

Stol said population growth does have its challenges.

“(The new recreation centre) is not an inexpensive venture, but it’s a greatly needed one.”

She said now is the time build.

“It’s these quiet times that we need to take advantage of competitive pricing, keep people working.”

Several other Central Alberta communities have grown since 2006.

Sylvan Lake was ranked 53rd on the list of communities with the biggest population growth. It grew to 12,327 in 2011 from 10,250, an increase of 20.3 per cent.

Olds ranked 92nd with a population of 8,235, up from 7,253, a 13.5 per cent increase.

Lacombe was 175th, growing to 11,707 from 10,752, an 8.9 per cent increase.

Red Deer, ranked 177th, grew to 90,564 from 83,154, also an 8.9 per cent increase.

Innisfail was ranked 210th and grew to 7,876 from 7,331, a 7.4 per cent increase.

Stettler was 278th, growing to 5,748 from 5,445, a 5.6 per cent increase.

Clearwater County was ranked 353rd and grew to 12,278 from 11,826, a 3.8 per cent increase.

Ponoka was 387th, growing to 6,773 from 6,576, a three per cent increase.

Ponoka County, ranked 417th, grew to 8,856 from 8,640, a 2.5 per cent increase.

Rocky Mountain House was ranked 501st and grew to 6,933 from 6,874, a 0.9 per cent increase.

Mountain View County was 531st, growing to 12,359 from 12,308, a 0.4 per cent increase.

Populations in the counties of Lacombe, Red Deer and Stettler all shrunk.

Lacombe County’s population fell to 10,312 from 10,394, a 0.8 per cent decrease.

Red Deer County dropped to 18,315 from 18,649, a 1.6 per cent decrease.

Stettler County declined to 5,089 from 5,189, a 1.9 per cent decrease.