Another municipal census is right around the corner. The City of Grande Prairie will be looking to get an updated picture of who’s living in the community, which Legislative Services Manager Terri Williams says can help plan for the future.

“Council will use these results to look at the different programs that we offer to see if we’re offering what is needed out there to the public. It also helps with the grant funding that we request.”

The last municipal census was done in 2015, and at that time city council committed to doing one every two years. However, the one set for 2017 was pushed back a year as it was a municipal election year and too close to the recent federal census.

Three years ago, the municipal census pegged Grande Prairie’s population at 68,556, but the result of the 2016 federal one was much lower at 63,166. While Mayor Bill Given attributed some of the drop to the economic downturn, Williams argues the city is able to get a more accurate number.

“[The difference] between a federal census and a municipal census is the dedication of the workers. Last time we hit all but one resident, and with a federal census, you can’t guarantee that they’ve reached every resident and obtain the information they need.”

This year’s census will be posted online from April 16th to May 5th, after which census takers will head door-to-door to reach anyone who didn’t participate. That includes going to local businesses to make sure everyone is accounted for.

“Last time we had one week where everybody was able to go online and fill out their information,” says Williams. “This time we’re going to have three weeks online, and then that way hopefully we can get more people engaged in accessing the information online and reporting it that way.”

Residents will be asked how many people live with them, their ages, genders, and residency statuses, what kind of home they live in, where they lived before Alberta, and the primary language used in the home. There are also questions on their usual mode of travel to work or school, how long they’ve lived in the city, and if they would vote online for the 2021 municipal election if possible.

Before the survey is live, households will get a specific PIN delivered to their home that they can use to access it. Williams assures residents the information collected will not be used or kept for any other purposes.

Anyone with questions can email census@cityofgp.com or call 780-357-8716. The city is also taking applications for census takers.