Population count important, says mayor

A lot hinges on having the right information

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The District of Houston is looking for assurances the federal census that gets underway this month results in an accurate population count.

Having the right numbers can have an influence over how much money the District can receive from senior governments so if the head count is off, the District could be losing out, says Mayor Shane Brienen.

“There was a feeling the numbers were a little bit out last time,” he said of a previous federal census. “We did talk to people who say they weren’t counted.”

And if the need for an accurate head count is important for the District’s ability to gather in finances from senior governments so are those numbers for the District itself, he said.

“Those numbers also help us for our own planning — age groups so we can plan to have the right services for our population,” said Brienen in adding that recreation services for the different age groups are an important part of the District’s function.

“How many people are working, what ages are they, how many people are retired — these are important,” he said.

The District also wants to know how the count will be conducted given the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on contact with people.

The last federal census in 2016 pegged the population at 2,993, a marked decrease from the more than 3,900 people living in Houston in the 1980s and 1990s when there was a larger industrial presence generating more jobs.

Although the provincial government does not do a census it does estimate population increases and decreases and in 2019 put the population of Houston at 3,128, a figure that increased very slightly to 3,147 in 2020.

Statistics Canada, the agency which conducts the census, lists the following as to what is collected — for the short-form questionnaire it is age, sex at birth, gender, official languages and family relationships while those asked to fill out the long-form be asked about income, education, religion, ethnic origins, Indigenous identity and languages and more.

The official census day is May 11 and officials are saying, in the context of the pandemic, that the vast majority of the collection work will be contact-less.

About 900 supervisors and 31,000 field enumerators have been hired to go door-to-door to survey those individuals and households who have not returned a complete mailed census questionnaire by late May or early June.