By Cole Parkinson
With four years since the last municipal census coming up next year, the Municipal District of Taber is gearing up to once again find out how many people are living in the municipality.
While the census provides that information, plenty of other relevant data will be on display following the census and council had a chance to discuss how to move forward at their regular meeting on Feb. 11.
“This is more the interest of doing a census and timing to give us some time to plan for budget and questions,” said Bryce Surina, director of GIS and IT. “There are lots of applications for this data that we can use to get a good idea where our population is and that sort of thing. We get a lot of good information.”
The total cost for the 2016 census was $35,848.35 and administration expects it to be right around the same for a 2020 census.
With the next federal census slated for 2021, M.D. administration believes holding a municipal version the year before will be advantageous.
One of the complaints they heard in 2016 was around confusion about having two censuses, federal and municipal, in the same year.
Moving forward, the census will be available to be completed online, though they expect to go door-to-door as well as some won’t use that option.
“There are some unknowns in doing a census in that as soon as you introduce the online aspect of it, we could have 100 per cent submission. There is an unknown portion where people don’t submit online, they just won’t so we’ll have to go door to door,” said Surina. “It is a good opportunity to get some answers. We do have to be a little bit careful with going door-to-door because it can become quite the time commitment to our numerators. We were able to get around some of the language barriers with our numerators, mostly Low German, which helped last census.”
With M.D. staff having helped out during the 2016 census, they expect that to happen again if council wanted to move forward.
One of the biggest benefits highlighted from the previous census was the help community peace officer Henry Peters provided in talking with the Low German Mennonite population and getting them involved.
While the talk had been around holding a 2020 municipal census, Surina pointed out it wasn’t a necessary project if council didn’t see the need for it.
“One of the ultimate questions is — do we do a census at all? I had to throw that in my mind when I was drafting this because you don’t have to do a census. The federal census comes out, too, but we do gain a lot of value internally.”
Council did express that the municipal census did offer the municipality information that the federal census may not highlight.
“I would say this census is better data than the federal census. It would be nice to know how we can share this data so it can impact things, some of the issues locally,” said Coun. Jen Crowson.
Moving ahead with the plan would place $40,000 in budgeting for the 2020 census in the M.D.’s three-year operating plan.
A motion was made to starting planning the 2020 census and was passed unanimously by council.