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City to conduct municipal census

The date of April 7 has been declared Census Day by the City of Lacombe.

The date of April 7 has been declared Census Day by the City of Lacombe.

At its regular meeting on Jan. 27, Lacombe City council voted to conduct a municipal census this spring starting April 7.

Norma MacQuarrie, City of Lacombe chief administrative officer, said that the City is currently using figures from the 2011 federal census and administration felt it prudent to update the numbers and use more current data.

The City also attempted to conduct a municipal census in 2012, but did not obtain responses from many of Lacombe’s citizens.

Councillor Reuben Konnik questioned MacQuarrie as to what changes are being made to ensure a similar outcome does not occur again.

“We attempted this in 2012 and it was a bit of a debacle,” said Konnik.

In response, MacQuarrie said that a few changes have been made from the 2012 census. This year, the City will be using a program from the City of Airdrie that will allow citizens to respond online instead of just in person through canvassing the City.

She added that the only questions that are being included relate to demographics, such as questions about age and income.

“I anticipate that we will have a much better response rate this year,” said MacQuarrie.

However, even those questions caused concern to Councillor Wayne Armishaw, who said he personally did not share information about his income with anyone other than Revenue Canada Agency and his financial advisors and felt that others may be uncomfortable sharing such details with the City as well.

Councillor Grant Harder wanted to make sure the cost of conducting the census, $38,800, was justified.

“Do we stand to gain that back?” asked Harder. “Or are we better off to wait a year and let that population grow?”

Mayor Steve Christie said that the City estimates it missed 1,000 people during the 2012 census. He said that if those numbers were included in a new census, the cost of conducting the census would be paid for even discounting Lacombe’s growth in the past two years.

MacQuarrie agreed.

“It does make a difference,” said MacQuarrie. “Even if it’s only 500 people we will see a difference.”

Council voted unanimously in favour of conducting the census.