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Census shows County population around 40,000

Despite Rocky View County’s (RVC) latest municipal census indicating an estimated 40,000 people call the county home, the newly-released data is unlikely to garner additional funding from the province.
Final Count
Boards around the County this summer alerted residents to this year’s municipal census. The census results were presented to Rocky View County council Nov. 13.

Despite Rocky View County’s (RVC) latest municipal census indicating an estimated 40,000 people call the county home, the newly-released data is unlikely to garner additional funding from the province. The census results were presented to RVC council at a regular meeting Nov. 13. According to Deputy Municipal Clerk Charlotte Satink, the census – RVC’s first since 2013 – was conducted between April 30 and June 30. Although RVC used various methods to collect data – online, door-to-door, in person at the County office and by telephone – Satink said information was not gathered from more than 1,000 of the County’s 14,791 households. “A census worker attempted to make contact with a member of the household on more than one occasion, and was not able to make contact with a member of the household – but believes that the dwelling was occupied on census day,” she said. “With 1,455 non-contacted dwellings, RVC was left with a population of 36,776.” The Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs acknowledged RVC’s population count would be affected by the high number of non-contacted dwellings, Satink said, and allowed the County to use the 2016 Federal Census count – 39,407 residents – as the official population count for reporting purposes and for Municipal Sustainability Initiatives (MSI) grant funding. However, for planning and service delivery, she said a higher population count could be extrapolated by applying an average count of 2.7 residents to the non-contacted dwelling – resulting in an estimated 40,705 people calling RVC home. The Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs denied a request for that number to be accepted, Satink added. According to Interim CAO Rick McDonald, the County could appeal the Deputy Minister’s decision, but said it was unlikely an appeal would be successful. Coun. Jerry Gautreau stated his disappointment with the Deputy Minister’s decision. “[Using the 2016 federal census count] is actually going to be a loss of revenue for this municipality,” he said. “It’s a sad day for this municipality because of that.” According to Satink, online collection was the most successful data-gathering method used by the County, with 52 per cent of respondents taking advantage of that option – surpassing administration’s goal to have at least half of residents complete the census online. The census came in slightly under budget, Satink added. While a $130,000 budget was approved, the actual expense of the census was $96,500. She also noted a number of opportunities for improvement in future censuses – particularly in relation to the size of the county. “RVC is approximately one million acres in size, making it a challenge for census workers to travel and navigate in the rural areas,” she stated in her report. Safety was also a concern for census workers, she said, especially in remote rural areas with limited Internet and telephone access. According to administration’s report, “there were reported incidents, including a resident displaying a firearm to a census worker and warning them to leave their property, a resident commanding their dog to ‘get’ a census worker resulting in the worker falling down the stairs, an actual dog bite and a census worker being locked within a property that had a gated electronic fence.” After receiving the report, Gautreau moved RVC send a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs appealing the Deputy Minister’s ruling on the census results. His motion was supported unanimously. Coun. Mark Kamachi was absent from the meeting.

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