By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Almost a month after the online component of Morinville’s latest municipal census concluded, there are still a number of households yet to be counted. Those uncounted residents are critical to Morinville’s receiving grant monies between now and when data from the federal census is revealed in two years’ time.
Jennifer Maskoske, Morinville’s legislative officer, said the municipal census is about three quarters completed but there are still a number of households enumerators have been unable to collect data from.
“We’re to the point of our call backs,” Maskoske said. “We’ve attempted a knock at everyone’s door. There’s two areas of town we haven’t hit, but the remainder of the town has been contacted once.”
But in addition to the homes yet to be reached, there are homes throughout Morinville where enumerators have visited when people are not at home. While information is left for people to contact the town in order to complete their census forms, Maskoske said there seems to be some confusion due to the federal and municipal census taking place at the same time.
“There’s confusion between the federal and municipal census and understanding that a federal census gives us numbers in two years and a municipal census gives us numbers that we can use for grant funding in six months.”
Numbers key to rate payers
The last federal census took place in 2006 and showed Morinville’s population to be 6,775 residents. Morinville’s last municipal census was conducted in 2009 and showed the population had increased to approximately 7,600 residents. That increase of 875 residents translates to approximately $284,375 in federal and provincial funding.
Morinville’s Chief Financial Officer Andy Isbister said each resident provides approximately $325 in grant funding. That figure includes $60 per resident for basic municipal transportation funding, $175 for Municipal Sustainability Initiatives and $20 for Family and Community Support Services. Additionally, the Town receives funding for policing, library services and capital infrastructure through the Federal Gas Tax program on a per head basis.
It has been estimated Morinville’s current population could be as high as 8,500. Based on Isbister’s estimate of $325 in funding per resident, Morinville could stand to receive an additional $292,500 in federal and provincial funding in the next round of grants. If Morinville’s census shows a population of 8,500, potential grant funding for the community would be approximately $2.7 million.
Maskoske said the grant dollars are important to Morinville’s rate payers. “It’s important in the way of providing money to complete infrastructure that a taxpayer then doesn’t have to pay for,” she said. “It’s based on head count and how big we are.”
But beyond the grant funding for road projects and social programs, Maskoske said proper census numbers are often a determining factor in businesses locating in the community, particularly franchise restaurants and other businesses.
Enumerators focused on the neighbourhoods north of the convent property Tuesday and Wednesday night and will be visiting the Bell Park area early next week.
The Town of Morinville is hoping to have all data collected by June 17; however, the absolute deadline for completing the census is June 30. Uncounted residents will mean a net loss of approximately $325 in provincial and federal funding to the community.
Those who have received call back notices can complete the census by telephone by calling the Town of Morinville offices at 780-939-4361.