Innisfail town council questions validity of census

Innisfail’s latest census shows little growth in the community — if the numbers are to be believed.

Innisfail’s latest census shows little growth in the community — if the numbers are to be believed.

The town’s recent head count puts the population at 7,953 — only 31 more people than were tallied three years ago.

However, that number has been questioned by officials, considering that a large percentage — 13 per cent — of households did not participate in the census online and could not be reached by enumerators.

“Some of us on council are questioning it, that’s for sure,” said Coun. Doug Bos. “There were a lot of new houses built.”

“It’s hard to believe. Even if nobody moved into town, we should have had more babies born than that.

“I know there were more babies born than that because my son had one of them,” quipped Bos.

“To me, (the count) doesn’t seem right. There’s got to be something wrong.”

Short counts are bad news for municipalities because many provincial and federal grants are based on per capita calculations.

Innisfail’s supposedly limp growth is also at odds with other communities in Central Alberta. Blackfalds’ recent count showed a stunning 12-per-cent population surge in one year, to 8,793.

Sylvan Lake showed strong growth. The town’s latest census counted 14,310 residents, up just under 10 per cent and 1,295 from the last count in 2013.

The City of Red Deer’s latest census showed the population hit 100,807 — up 2.2 per cent from last year, and following 1.5 per cent and 5.7 per cent increases.

Innisfail isn’t the only community to run into trouble trying to get an accurate fix on resident numbers.

Three years ago, Lacombe chose to scrap its census after the numbers came in unlikely low.

Only 11,002 Lacombe residents were counted — down from the last federal census in 2011 when 11,710 people were listed.

City officials estimated that up to 1,200 households — possibly as high as 2,400 people — went uncounted.

A 2015 Lacombe census was undertaken following a public information campaign and the numbers were a more accurate 12,728.

Innisfail, and all other Canadian municipalities, will get a federal count next year as part of the national census conducted every five years.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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