Friday, March 31, 2023

Lethbridge cancels 2020 census, cites changes by UCP government

Lethbridge resident won’t be counting themselves in 2020. There will be no city-wide population count this year.

Lethbridge City Council voted Monday (Jan. 27) to cancel the 2020 municipal census after the UCP government announced it will no longer use civic data to calculate annual provincial and federal grant funding. The province will be using a system which will be based on a provincially-designed methodology of population estimates used in other provinces.

Mayor Chris Spearman says moving forward, the city will complete the census next year and then re-evaluate the process once they’ve compared data from the 2021 federal census.

He has concerns though, because the city census also includes the large post-secondary population. “So we’re providing services to people who live here 8 months of the year and that census data may not include students in the future. We want to make sure those things are taken into account and that the City of Lethbridge is treated fairly when it comes to future grants for transportation and education.”

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This is the first time since 2005 there will be no city-wide census.

Last year, the City of Lethbridge population hit a milestone breaking the 100,000 mark. The tally of residents came in at 101,482 making Lethbridge the third-largest city in Alberta.

While grant funding is not the sole reason the municipal census is conducted, it is a driving factor in completing the $154,000 process annually.

“The census allows us to collect important historical data about the people who live in our city and where they live,” says City Clerk, Bonnie Hilford. “However as we look for efficiencies and cost-savings across the organization, it does provide a chance to post-pone and review our own process moving forward.”

Moving forward, the City of Lethbridge will complete the census for 2021, but then re-evaluate the process once data has been compared from the federal census in 2021.

The City has conducted a census almost every year since 1954.

(With files from City of Lethbridge)

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