Over the last five years, the evidence of growth in Drumheller has been everywhere, from industrial growth to residential.
The Town of Drumheller released the results of its census taken last spring.
The count was undertaken to give a more accurate reflection of the population of the valley, with hopes of a boost in the numbers compared to the 2006 federal census. Instead they saw a drop… a 399 drop.
Because the town is not bound by the results, it has chosen not to submit the results to the province.
The results were not as favorable (to the town) as we would have liked,” said Mayor Bryce Nimmo. “Either we didn’t take it serious enough, or our census people didn’t take it serious enough.”
Council budgeted $30,000 to hold the count. The count took place throughout the month of June, and a ministerial order allowed the town to continue until the end of July. The prospect of higher numbers would have given the town a financial boost, as many grants are administered on a per capita basis.
Although the numbers will not be used, Michael Roy, director of Corporate Service for the Town of Drumheller says the exercise was still valuable.
“There is still useful information we have gathered in conjunction with the survey,” he said. “So we still have some useful information for planning purposes.”
According to a report submitted to council, there was a disparity of 88 properties when comparing the number of properties in the tax roll, to the census count. In addition, it appears only 35 of the 106 mobile homes were counted.
Further, the data shows there are 341 apartment suites in Drumheller, however the census’ count for these properties showed only 327 individuals. The vacancy rate in Drumheller shows that not all people living in apartments were accounted for. One of the reasons may have been security at properties not allowing census takers access.
According to the report, using an average of 2.5 people per residence as a multiplier, there could be more than 900 people unaccounted for in the census.
They are all contributing factors, there is not one specific item,” said Roy.
Other problems identified included a lack of communication with residents on the method of the importance of the census, part of the allotted time for the census was during a vacation month, the lack of regular reporting from the enumerators and the coordinator, and fatigue on the part of the census takers.
The town has laid out recommendations if another census were to take place. These include more advertising and communication, allowing a full three months to complete the count, hire more enumerators and assign enumerators for some specific types of properties.
The process may also be helped along by changes made by the Alberta government allowing follow-up via Internet and e-mail.
There are no current plans to conduct another count in the near future.