“Be counted in 100.”
That’s just one of the pitches tossed about at Sylvan Lake town council on Monday to encourage local residents to stand up and be counted during a census being considered for next year, the community’s centennial.
The last head count occurred with the federal census in 2011, and that listed the town’s population at 12,327.
It represented a 10.9 per cent jump from the 11,115 counted during the last municipal census in 2008. At that rate of growth, the town’s population could reach 13,205 by 2013, says a report to council.
Getting an accurate read on the number of residents can mean a financial windfall for communities. The results of the last federal census, which were released earlier this year, mean that the town will get another $72,720 in transportation grants alone.
Population also figures in other grants involving policing and the province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
On the other side of the ledger, the town’s fees for some memberships and licences go up as the population increases.
Coun. Laverne Asselstine questioned whether a census was worth the expense. He pointed out that the City of Lacombe recently undertook a count whose results had to be scrapped after it came up about 2,000 people short.
Marilee Littman, Sylvan Lake’s executive assistant, said she spoke with her counterparts in Lacombe and was told part of the problem was some enumerators didn’t complete their jobs. Some residents may also have been hesitant to answer honestly because they had rented out illegal suites to local college students.
Coun. Sean McIntyre said the town could use its centennial celebrations to market the census, which is expected to cost about $27,000.
Mayor Susan Samson agreed, saying it could be pitched as a way to show how far the community had come in 100 years.
Council will make a decision on a census during upcoming budget talks.