It appears Red Deer still does have more than 100,000 residents after all.
According to national census data released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday, our city’s population in May 2016 was 100,418. That’s nearly 600 more than the 99,852 head count announced last July from the 2016 Municipal Census, conducted by the City of Red Deer.
In 2015, Municipal Census results showed our city's population had reached 100,807.
“It is not unusual for these numbers to differ. Different surveys, particularly censuses, use different methodologies,” Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said in response to the difference between the two counts. “Obviously, we know we're still Alberta's third largest city and the regional hub for central Alberta.”
Regardless, Veer is excited to see Red Deer’s population over the 100,000 mark.
"Obviously, it's been a challenging year living with a regressive economy and the implication that that had on our population last year. We were of course disappointed that there'd been a drop for the first time in decades in Red Deer's population.”
From 2011 when the last federal census was done, Red Deer’s population grew by 10.9 per cent, more than double the national growth rate of 5.0. Veer feels that’s something our city can be proud of.
“It says that we're a growing and dynamic city,” she said. “We knew that when the numbers had fallen back last year, it was a direct correlation with the economy and that those numbers would come back eventually. So certainly we'll take the federal numbers as indication we're hopefully over the hump in terms of the economic recession, and that does give us some reason for cautious optimism."
When it comes to receiving grant funding, which is calculated on a per capita basis, Veer says the resulting changes will depend on which grants the City is applying for.
“Federal and provincial grant programs use different definitions,” she noted. “We are hopeful that this will mean we're eligible for a different pool of federal grant funding. But there again, it might have different implications in terms of us being ineligible in different pools of grant funding.”
Veer says City officials will be looking closer at those implications over the coming weeks.
If nothing else, given that the City of Red Deer is not conducting a Municipal Census this year, the new 100,418 number will look good on paper for the next while, with Veer saying, “These numbers might change the picture on whether or not we do a municipal census in 2018.”
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