The City of Lethbridge will not be conducting a 2020 census. The decision was voted on unanimously by city council on Monday.
One of the biggest contributing factors in the decision was cost.
“When we are trying to be fiscally responsible and we have operational reviews occurring and we want to find efficiencies, I think we just might sit this one out this year,” said city clerk, Bonnie Hilford.
The city has conducted a census almost every year since 1954.
For the last five years, the data has helped secure nearly $425,000 in annual provincial and federal funding. The province is transitioning from using municipal census numbers to a system of provincially developed population estimates to allocate grants.
“They are going to use different projections rather than municipal census projections.
“There are some cities and towns in Alberta that don’t do a census, so they just feel this is a better way for them to come up with census data across the province and across Canada,” added Hilford.
The federal census is conducted every five years. The next is scheduled for 2021, which is when the city would also hold its next local census, giving it data to compare to the federal numbers and ensuring it’s on point with population growth and demands.
“We have always done our census during the school year because we know we have thousands of university and college students, so we tend to do our census locally in the month of April and therefore capture the student populations,” said Mayor Chris Spearman.
The federal census is generally done in the month of June,” he added.
2021 is the last year Lethbridge is guaranteed a municipal census, with the city planning to examine the future of the local count after next year.
The average annual cost to conduct the census is roughly $152,000.
The most recent one showed the local population was just over 100,000 people.