The Town of Gladstone has completed its physical count and has confirmed its current population is much higher than the 2011 Census reports.
Following concerns about about the Province’s proposed forced amalgamation for communities under the 1,000 population mark, as well as the seemingly inaccurate 2011 Census population numbers that reported Gladstone’s population as being 879, the Town went door-to-door to create an extensive population count and community background check.
This past week, the results of the count were announced, indicating the Town’s population was in fact 1,015 - a number that would put the community above the forced amalgamation threshold population number of 1,000.
The Town also reported it found that only about 52 per cent of its population completed the 2011 Census.
And while the Province’s Municipal Modernization Act (Bill 33) clearly states it will use the 2011 Census population numbers to decide which communities will have to amalgamate, Gladstone Mayor Eileen Clarke believes their count should at least give the Province something to consider.
“This number probably won’t affect the forced amalgamation because the bill is based on the census count,” Clarke admitted. “But what it does is solidifies that if we look at the Manitoba Health stats number of 1,028, it more accurately parallels our actual population number.
“So our message to the Province is there’s more to a community than a number.”
Gladstone submitted an in depth presentation against being forced into amalgamation as part of hearings heard by the legislative committee Sept. 9-11. The Town’s presentation against its forced amalgamation also pointed out Gladstone is “light years” ahead of many other communities in Manitoba when it comes to much of its long-term planning.
“Infrastructure is not something we have to stress about,” Clarke explained.
Clarke added that the Town-driven population count was about more than simply establishing that census numbers were inaccurate. Residents also answered several other questions for the Town to better understand its demographics and current growth.
“Looking back at the last census, it looked at Gladstone as a retirement community and we now know that we have a lot of newer families, young families, who have moved to our town,” Clarke said. “That to me is the winner.”
“And in the past we haven’t had a really clear indication as to where people have been moving here from, but now we have that information... and can know where to target our advertising to attract people here,” Clarke added.