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Federal census shows Blackfalds to be one of Canada’s fastest growing cities

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

Blackfalds prides itself on being the fastest growing community in Alberta, but federal census results released last week mark it as one of the fastest growing in the country.

Showing 48.1 per cent growth between 2011 and 2016, it’s population has bloomed from 6,300 to 9,328. Amongst communities outside of metropolitan areas, it’s the fastest growing in the country.

Although the federal census population numbers are down slightly from Blackfalds’ own municipal census — which showed 9,510 people living in the town — Mayor Melodie Stol said she couldn’t be more happy with the results.

“It’s very exciting for us. Of course we’re pleased with the results because growth is a good problem to have,” she said. “It gives us a positive position where people desire to live in your community, where people want to be here. It gives us a lot of opportunities to build the community.”

Naturally, the big challenge with the kind of growth the Blackfalds has seen is meeting residents’ expectations with regards to services. With every new person, new house that’s built, Stol says, there’s a few more feet of road to look after, and more service work to be done on the underground.

Some of that will be alleviated with the regional sewer line, which was driven by the growth in Central Alberta, but other problems include health care service delivery, and adding a high school to the town.

The City of Lacombe also saw growth, albeit on a lesser scale than its southern neighbour.

The federal census showed an increase in population to 13,057, distributed over 5,034 dwellings, representing 11.5 per cent growth since 2011.

Lacombe’s last municipal census, conducted in 2014, had the city’s population at 12,728 distributed over 4,824 dwellings.

City of Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie said the results were positive, but not surprising.

“We’re happy to breach the 13,000 mark and look forward to consistent growth in the future,” he said. “It’s sustainable and something we can keep up with on an infrastructure basis as well as applying services required by the citizens.”

Like the Town of Blackfalds, improving the treatment of waste water has been a priority for a number of years, and thankfully, the regional sewer line will be one of the infrastructure projects to happen in the near future.

“It’s something that will carry us far into the future, over the 25-30,000 capacity,” said Christie. “That’s a great thing.”

For the most part, nearby communities have all grown since 2011. Sylvan Lake, like Blackfalds, made the top-25 list of fastest growing communities, ranking seventh with a 19.9 per cent growth rate.

The Village of Clive grew 5.9 per cent, Ponoka grew 6.7 per cent, while Ponoka County grew 10.7 per cent. The Summer Village of Gull Lake grew 44.3 per cent, Bentley 0.5 per cent and Lacombe County grew 0.3 per cent.

Only Alix saw a decrease in population, going down 11.6 per cent.

Federal census results will be released throughout the year, with one occurring every two months. Six total releases are planned, identified as follows:

• Feb. 8: Population and dwelling counts;

• May 3: Age and sex, type of dwelling;

• Aug. 2: Families, households and marital status, language;

• Sept. 13: Income;

• Oct. 25: Immigration and ethno-cultural diversity, housing and aboriginal peoples;

• Nov. 29: Education, labour, journey to work, language of work, mobility and migration.

The 2016 federal census was mandatory. In Alberta, 4,000 people were hired to conduct the census.

The population for the entire county is now 35,151,728.


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