Cold Lake has grown by 4.6 percent between 2016 and 2021 with a new population of 15,661, according to the 2021 Federal Census.
The last federal census saw a population of 14,976 and a growth of 8.1 percent between 2014.
“We are encouraged by the growth that the community has seen despite the challenging times in the oil patch, the general downturn in the economy, and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “Our council has focused on being prepared for growth as we know that the short and mid-term timelines carry significant prospects for our community. We have recently seen a very significant uptick in interested investors coming to the community, and we anticipate accelerated yet steady growth in the months and years to come.”
City Council has funded a municipal census for 2022 to try to get an accurate prediction of the community. The final decision regarding the municipal census will be made within the weeks to come. The last municipal census conducted in the city of Cold Lake was in 2014.
“The federal government and municipal staff consistently see different results in population counts, so we generally are careful to only compare municipal censuses to municipal censuses and federal censuses to federal censuses,” Copeland said. “This helps to ensure that we are comparing apples to apples, and that any differences in methodology, or the different census staff’s knowledge of the community, are accounted for.”
While the population growth is regarded as a positive indication in terms of per-capita funding, there are a few financial impacts too.
The City will now be responsible for footing 90 percent of its municipal RCMP contract, rather than 70 percent, and will also be responsible for a greater amount of the equipment and fleet costs associated with the RCMP contract. The total financial impact is expected to be about $700,000 annually.
“Council and administration have seen this change coming and we have prepared reserves so that this impact will not be felt as a lump-sum increase to property taxes,” Copeland said. “While it will have an impact on our budgets going forward, it has been accounted for and will be integrated over the next five years.”