Results from the 2016 federal census, released on Feb. 8, show Cochrane to be the fastest growing municipality in Rocky View Weekly’s coverage area.
As of the census reference day of May 10, 2016, Cochrane’s population increased by 47.1 per cent in five years from 17,580 in 2011 to 25,853.
Mayor Ivan Brooker said he was not surprised by those results as Cochrane has conducted an annual municipal census to keep up with its rapid population growth.
“We’ve been growing steadily for years and years,” he said. “We know that Cochrane is a community of choice.”
Cochrane’s 2016 municipal census, taken between April 1 and 30, garnered 96.5 per cent completion and revealed a population of 25,112.
Though Brooker said all municipalities felt the downturn in the economy in 2016, Cochrane managed an eight per cent population increase from 2015.
“Oddly enough, we still had growth (and) reasonably strong,” he said. “Not like previous years by any means, but still reasonable growth.”
Throughout the years, Brooker said Cochrane has attracted all the services a person could want.
On top of that, Cochrane’s greenery and trails situated along the Bow River add a point of beauty to the community, he said.
“All of those things combined and yet we’re still 15 minutes outside of the big city,” Brooker said. “You get the services a big city offers, but you don’t get all the headache necessarily.”
Chestermere grew at a rapid 34.2 per cent, from 14,824 in 2011 to 19,887, while Irricana grew from 1,162 to 1,260 and Beiseker jumped from 785 to 819. Rocky View County grew 10.2 per cent from 35,754 in 2011 to 39,407 in 2016.
Hoping to reach a population of 3,000 to petition Alberta Health Services for an ambulance, the Town of Crossfield fell short on the federal census at 2,983.
This, however, is a timing issue of when the census was taken, said Crossfield Chief Administrative Officer Ken Bosman.
Taking Statistics Canada’s average of 2.55 people per dwelling in Crossfield, he said the population has increased by approximately 95 people with the 38 new dwellings connected to utilities since summer 2016.
If the results of the federal census became a problem when petitioning for an ambulance, Bosman said Crossfield would simply conduct its own municipal census.
“I suspect with the growth rate we’re anticipating, we’re likely going to be running (a) census relatively frequently,” he said. “It would actually pay for itself in terms of additional grants.”
Results of the federal census would continue to be released throughout 2017, according to Statistics Canada census manager of population Marc Hamel.
Stats on age, sex and type of dwelling would come out in May, family households and marital in August and income in September, he said. A full suite of long form information such as immigration, cultural diversity, housing conditions, aboriginal peoples, education, labour journeys to work, language of work and mobility and migration will be released in October and November.
“It paints a pretty detailed portrait of the Canadian population,” Hamel said. “Decision makers at all levels use that information to make decisions.”