The City of Cold Lake added 685 residents, growing by 4.6 per cent between 2016 and 2021 to reach a population of 15,661, according to the 2021 Federal Census.
The last federal census, conducted in 2016, put the city’s population of 14,976 after having grown by 8.1 per cent in the preceding five years.
“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.”
In order to ensure an accurate picture of the community, and to gather critical data on demographics and access to healthcare, City Council funded a municipal census for 2022. A final decision on the municipal census will be coming in the weeks ahead. 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.”
With new housing starts increasing by almost 35 per cent from 2021 to 2022, a noticeable increase in potential investors contacting City Hall, and significant federal investment in the community associated with the federal Future Fighter Program on the horizon, the City of Cold Lake remains focused on positioning the community so that growth is seamlessly integrated and that investment opportunities are maximized.
“It’s encouraging to see not only the work that we know will happen on 4 Wing come closer to being a reality, but also the opportunities that investors in the private sector are finding in our community,” Copeland said. “This promises more jobs, a greater variety of services, and it’s a great vote of confidence in Cold Lake when investors are willing to bring their money to town.”
While the population growth is a positive indication, and benefits the city in terms of per-capita funding, there are some financial impacts to the City of Cold Lake for having passed the 15,000-population threshold as a community. Most noticeably, the City will be responsible for footing 90 per cent of its municipal RCMP contract, rather than 70 per cent. The City will also be responsible for a greater amount of the equipment and fleet costs associated with the RCMP contact. 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.”
The 2021 Canadian census data is available on the Statistics Canada’s website at www.statcan.gc.ca.