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Didsbury's federal census decline promotes call for grant impacts

Didsbury council directed administration to “question the census results and the published decrease in our population through the appropriate federal government channels"

DIDSBURY - The recent federal census that found Didsbury’s population has decreased by 198 residents between 2020 and 2021 has prompted council to instruct administration to investigate possible impacts on grant funding.

The move came by way of motion at the recent regularly scheduled council meeting.

Council instructed administration to bring back information as to the impacts on the municipality relative to provincial, federal and regional grant funding, as well as implications to per capita funding of groups funded by the Town of Didsbury.

In a second motion, council directed administration to “question the census results and the published decrease in our population through the appropriate federal government channels.”

When the census statistics were released last month, Town of Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter said, "I don't know where 200 people could have gone. I was surprised, that would be the best I could say right now."

The Statistics Canada census report found Didsbury’s population was 5,268 in 2016 and 5,070 in 2021; a decrease of 3.8 per cent.

Assessments increase $55 million 

In other news from the Feb. 22 council meeting, assessments in town for both residential and non-non-residential properties increased in 2022 compared with 2021, said Ethan Gorner, the town's chief administrative officer.

In his monthly report presented to council, Gorner outlined the results of recent assessments.

“There has been an overall increase of approximately 10 per cent in both residential and non-residential assessment values mainly due to a market value increase that was experienced up to July 1, 2021,” said Gorner.

“Approximately $5 million of the overall increase relates to new growth and development. The final complaint date is April 19, 2022, so values may change between now and that time.”

Residential/farmland assessment in 2022 was $525,359,090, an increase of $47,957,570 from 2021.

Non-residential assessment in 2022 was $78,423,340, an increase of $7,509,180.

Total assessment in 2022 was $603,782,439, an increase of $55,466,750.

Council accepted Gorner’s report as information.

Grant application for reservoir project

Meanwhile, council has instructed administration to proceed with an Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP)  funding application for the town’s east reservoir project.

Launched in 1991, AMWWP provides cost-shared funding to eligible municipalities to help build municipal facilities for both water supply and treatment as well as wastewater treatment and disposal, council heard.

Based on the town’s current population (5,070 in 2021), the municipality is eligible to receive 44.72 per cent of the project costs from the partnership, said the town's chief administrative officer.

The current estimated cost of the east reservoir project is $4.4 million. 

“This equates to an estimated funding opportunity of $1.96 million,” he said.

Council also instructed administration to prepare a letter of support for the submission with the application.

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