The Town of Crossfield increased its population by 8.3 per cent in 2017, according to census results released July 12. A total of 3,308 people now call the community home, up from 3,055 in 2016.
“Taxes are low, the infrastructure is in good shape, the crime rate is low – we’ve got a good quality of life,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ken Bosman. “Pricing on housing is cheaper out here, and a lot of people are viewing it as a cost-effective, quality of life decision (to move here).”
Response to the census was high – 99.8 per cent – with approximately 75 per cent of residents responding online. Each person counted in the census generated approximately $162 for the Town, Bosman said, provided the amount received from the province through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative remains at the current level.
According to Bosman, Crossfield benefits from the experience of other municipalities – such as Airdrie and Okotoks – which experienced rapid and significant growth.
“We’ve taken some good lessons from that,” he said. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is…never, never, ever fall behind on your infrastructure, because once you do, you’re done. It’s almost impossible to catch up.”
Avoiding a mindset of “development at all costs” is a state Bosman said Crossfield has tried to achieve.
“Once growth starts, there’s almost this reflex – it’s like a starving man who wants to eat everything,” he said. “You need to very consciously step back and look at every development and say, ‘Does this truly move us forward?’ And be prepared to say ‘No,’ but also be prepared to say ‘Yes.’
“We’re doing a tremendous amount of research and a tremendous amount of outreach to business and commercial development, precisely because we want smart growth, as opposed to growth for the sake of growth.”
The Town is currently working on a Crossfield Downtown and Entrance Redevelopment Action Plan, according to team lead for economic development Norma Lang. The plan includes items such as improved parking, public furniture, sidewalk and lighting enhancements, and more greenery.
“Likely, we will divide the action plan into quick wins that can be completed at no or low cost next summer, and build a one- to five-year schedule for larger infrastructure enhancements, like new sidewalks and lamp posts that can be phased in over a few years,” she said. “All the ideas we are working from came from the community last year. The step we are in now really is validating and prioritizing the items, so council can approve a final plan this fall.”
Residents are encouraged to provide their continued input on the redevelopment and action plan throughout July, when the Town will have a booth at the Crossfield Farmers’ Market each Thursday night from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Residents can discuss the plan with Town representatives and offer feedback.
Lang said residents can also weigh-in on the plan online at thisiscrossfield.ca, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under the user name thisiscrossfield
At the same time, the Town is working on a 10-year economic development strategy, which will help shape and guide growth. Lang said Crossfield currently enjoys a roughly 70 per cent residential, 30 per cent commercial/industrial tax base split.
“This type of balance helps us be a complete community, where people can live and work in Crossfield. Our focus on a 10-year strategy is protecting the balance we currently enjoy,” she said. “The balance also helps keep our municipal tax and municipal service costs low, relatively speaking – relative to same size population communities across the province.”