Slave Lake’s population hasn’t always grown by leaps and bounds in the past 50 years, but it (as far as we are aware) has always gone up. Until now. The results of the 2016 federal census are out, and it shows a decline of 131 people from the 2011 figure, or 1.9 per cent.
In 2011, says Statistics Canada, Slave Lake had 6,782 residents. Last year their people counters came up with 6,651. In ’06 the figure was 6,703 and in the 2001 census – 6,600.
How accurate those figures are is a good question, but one that can only be answered by a separate census. Town council was so dissatisfied with the ’06 StatsCan figure it decided to do its own census. That was the one that came up a figure of just over 7,000 residents, which has unofficially remained Slave Lake’s population ever since.
But now, officially, we’re heading in the other direction.
Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman says he thinks the figure is low – just as the town thought the 2011 figure was.
“Census numbers are tied to grant dollars,” he says. “The town’s going to have to take a look at doing its own.”
The last town census cost the town $10,000, as far as Warman recalls. It was done by the Rotary Club.
M.D. down too
The numbers for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River show a similar decline, back to the 2006 level. The 2016 count showed a drop of 126 residents, down from an all-time high of 2,929 in 2011. At 2,803, the M.D. has pretty much what it had in both the 2001 and 2006 counts.
“I can’t say exactly how big an impact this drop in population will have on our operating budgets,” says M.D. reeve Murray Kerik, “but I’m sure that here as well as the TOSL will feel the impact because of our already decreased assessments.”