Village of Alix council ponders census results: 781

Alix village council read their 2024 municipal census results which turned out to be slightly lower than some anticipated. The results were presented at the June 5 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read a report compiled by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White and presented by staff member Tanya Meston which noted the provincial government in 2019 removed municipalities’ authority to conduct their own census, then reversed that decision this year.

“Since (2019) they have been relying on a formula to estimate the population of each municipality in Alberta,” stated the CAO in her report.

“Many municipalities voiced concerns about the new process. The province reinstated municipality’s ability to do a census as of 2024.”

The CAO stated village council ordered a new census which was conducted by a municipal staff member and revealed Alix’ population was more robust than the federal government claimed, albeit only by a hair.

“Our current population is 781,” stated White. “The 2022 federal census showed a population of 774 for Alix. When conducting a census we are only allowed to include people who count Alix as their permanent, year-round home as of census day. That was May 7.

“Though we have many seasonal residents, they are not included in our final population number.”

When reading the results Mayor Rob Fehr voiced surprise, relating he suspected the Village of Alix was over 800 in population.

The CAO’s report included the following gleaned from 2024 census results:

Men outnumber women in Alix by 40, eight residents have lived in Alix for more than 50 years, one resident has lived in Alix for 90 years, a resident lives in Alix for an average 15 years, as of May 7 there was only one vacant rental space in Alix while 74 were listed as occupied, the village has 279 owned dwellings occupied year-round, 40 dwellings are marked vacant and only seven per cent of Alix’ population is aged 18 to 24 years.

Staff member Meston clarified that the 40 dwellings marked as vacant may also host seasonal residents.

Coun. Barb Gilliat calculated those 40 residences could hold up to 80 people, easily pushing Alix’ population at some points over 800.

Gilliat noted those residences incur costs for the Village of Alix but the village can’t search for grant money as those people are not permanent residents.

Meston noted the census-taker observed Alix residents were very cooperative and accommodating, with only one person never responding to requests for information.

Mayor Fehr also observed the fact Alix has more men than women, which he found surprising.

The CAO noted the census cost the village very little as it was conducted “in-house.” She also stated the results can help council plan for the future such as interpreting the age levels Alix residents tend to be at.

Estimated census numbers over the past four or five years became a sore spot in many Alberta municipalities as many provincial and federal government grant programs are calculated per head of population, while other departments bill municipalities based on local population.

Library boards in particular seemed perturbed by the blurry census numbers as virtually everything they do is per capita-based.

Councillors unanimously agreed to include the 2024 municipal census data with strategic planning documents.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review