The Town of Blackfalds features prominently in 2016 Canada Census results, released on Wednesday.
The numbers show Blackfalds is the fastest growing in Canada among communities outside of a metropolitan area, and with a population of 5,000 or more.
The town's population grew 48.1 per cent between 2011, the last time a national census was done, and May 2016. Those results also place Blackfalds second in growth for all municipalities across Canada. Its population according to the national census is now 9,328.
Last year's Municipal Census pegged Blackfalds' head count at 9,510.
Mayor Melodie Stol says the growth speaks to how much has been invested into community development.
"It's paying off because people are choosing to live here. We hope from that, businesses and industry will also come in and invest in Blackfalds and make us a really well-balanced community," she says.
Stol says Town officials have been working hard do deal with the issues that come with rapid population growth.
"Growth is a good problem to have," she notes. "The decisions you're making or the challenges you have are coming from a positive place. You're trying to meet needs, trying to invest and grow a community. We're not just trying to grow the number of residents, we're trying to grow a whole robust community."
Stol notes ongoing work on the regional wastewater line, completion of the Abbey Centre, and relocation of the RCMP detachment to Blackfalds five years ago as indicators that the Town is doing something right.
"Now the big kick over the next few years is getting those businesses to come in because people have service needs," she says. "We have a solid population base, and now we want to see that business growth follow along. It's a very exciting time for the business person in Blackfalds."
Of course more people mean more kids, which mean a greater need for schools, particularly, a new high school.
"It’s nice that Wolf Creek has acknowledged that on their long-term capital plan [last year]. We recognize that there is a lot of planning for that, but to acknowledge it is a huge step," Stol says. "I know there's a lot of provincial need out there. I'm a realist, it's not going to happen this year and probably not next year, but as long as you're planning and making thoughtful decisions, not 'Oh my god, we need to build a high school out of nowhere.'"
Stol adds that a good enough foundation has been laid so that when all the partners are ready to make a new high school happen, they'll be able to do so successfully.
The Town of Blackfalds has already set land aside for a new high school next to the ball diamonds and current junior school. Stol says they're trying to make the recreation and education corridor in that area a really productive one.
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