The Town of Blackfalds has just completed a local census. The tremendous pace of growth continues and Blackfalds is now home to 7,275 residents – a 7.51% increase over last year.
First I would like to thank the residents for participating in the census. With our fast-paced growth it is extremely important that we gather data more frequently than the federal government’s five-year census schedule. The municipality has tried to make participating as easy as possible – 2013 saw the introduction of online census reporting. Residents could submit their information online sparing a visit from a census enumerator. Those who did chose to wait for the face-to-face visit had their information punched into an iPad at the door and the data was instantly collated into the census report. Thirty-four per cent of households chose the online method of reporting and I am confident that next year more residents will choose this cost effective and time saving option.
The official population number has a positive impact on the grants we receive from the provincial government. Blackfalds will benefit t in additional financial support for the RCMP, the library and the Street Improvement grant. With an increase of 508 people over last year, the increase in grants far outweighs the cost of collecting the data.
I am sorry to report though that there were 52 residences that were known to be occupied did not complete the census. It is unfortunate that we won’t be receiving all the financial support that this community could definitely use.
The census also provides valuable information on the services that need to be expanded locally to meet our unique demographic makeup. There are, for example, 962 kids under the age of five living in Blackfalds – 180 of them are two-years-old. While a new school was announced this past spring, if we are thinking about the longterm future of our community one new school simply will not meet the ongoing demand for local education needs. Blackfalds needs a solid plan from our school boards – both public and Catholic and from the education ministry to offer a complete Kindergarten to Grade 12 education locally.
Solid population growth is also a significant driver of economic development. Small business owners, medium to large franchises and investors can see great opportunities in Blackfalds. This year has already seen strong expansion of our commercial sector, including the opening of a veterinarian clinic, the bottle depot, a second dental office and a new hotel opening soon. If you are an entrepreneur looking for a thriving community to build a business in and would like to learn more about our community please give Terry a call at the town office 403-885-4677. He would be happy to talk with you about what Blackfalds has to offer as well as provide a copy of the 2013 census with all its important demographic information.
The census will also be available for download from www.blackfalds.com.
High growth can present a number of challenges to a municipality. Always a concern to a council is how to meet ever-growing demands for services for citizens. More roads to plow, more parks to care for, more facilities needed like the Abbey Center – all of these things and more need to grow along with the population.
But even if it is a challenge it also is exciting to be involved with this town during this time of change. Given a choice, I would always want to be in a community like Blackfalds that is growing, changing and maturing. So congratulations Blackfalds – a population of 7,275 is a milestone to celebrate!
Melodie Stol is the mayor of Blackfalds.