Regulatory policy

Census consensus: Edmonton City Council to decide policy on $4.7M data capture

Edmonton City Council must decide when the city should do another census to gather information on people’s population, age, gender and where they live.

The current policy governing the census process should be repealed, suspended or updated, according to a new report from the city.

In 2019, the council halted the municipal census to help reduce the operating budget.

Each census is estimated to cost the city about $4.7 million, according to the report, and council will soon deliberate on next year’s budget.

The last municipal census of 2019 had Edmonton’s population at 972,223, up 72,776 from 2016, an increase of approximately 7%.

The larger the population, the more grants the city receives from the provincial and federal governments to fund services and projects, such as roads, transit, and housing.

Com. Andrew Knack said if the population is growing – which is expected in Edmonton over the next few years – it’s worth taking the municipal census every few years.

“It’s almost a necessity to do that, because in order for us to meet that demand in that additional growth in the new areas that you’re building, you have to make sure that you don’t leave money on the table.”

Knack said the council will need more information to assess projected population growth.

“What is the point at which you would potentially earn more in grant revenue than you would pay for the cost of the census work itself?” he said.

If the council agrees to update the policy, the next census could take place in 2024, the report says.

Data value

Accurate census data helps the city plan future social and infrastructure projects, from schools to transit routes.

It shows the population and age of residents in each ward and neighborhood.

Sarah Hamilton, councilor for the south-west ward sipiwiyiniwak, said the data helps show the changing demographics of a ward.

“[it] helps make those case for additional schools and resources in our community. »

However, Hamilton said holding another census could be a difficult decision in a tight operating budget coming in the fall.

“It’s very possible that now is just not the right time for the board to address this issue,” Hamilton said. “I also see the value of past datasets and myself and other people I know have relied on these datasets to inform us, to give us a better picture of what’s going on in our city.”

The board will be asked to review the policy at a meeting on October 26.

From 1878 to 2019

Edmonton has conducted 87 municipal census projects since their inception in 1878, when 148 people were listed as living in the area.

Alberta is the only province that allows municipalities to undertake a census project, under the Municipal Government Act.

The province is also reviewing the Municipal Census Regulation, which helps determine per capita funding for municipal grants.

The city conducts a census between federal census years and avoids overlap with a municipal election year.

The municipal census is voluntary, while the federal census is mandatory.

The last federal census took place in 2021.