Twelve in Twenty

“All the current indicators point toward…the record growth we have been expecting for decades.”-Mayor Lorne Mann, Mayor’s Musings, Record Gazette, Dec 12, 2012 pg. 5

“Peace River’s 2012 confirmed growth was 12% in 2012″-Mayor Lorne Mann, Mayor’s Musings, Record Gazette; Feb 12, 2013 (emphasis added)

I love this beautiful town.  I think it’s the greatest place in the world to live, and I want the whole world to know about it.  Thus, the prospect of growth brings the hope that they do know and they like what they see.

As the Mayor stated this 12% figure like it was a verifiable fact, I wanted to find out the source so I could shout it from the rooftops, along with the other “current indicators” to which he referred.

Sadly, after an e-mail to Lorne Mann, I received no response.

Left to fend for myself, I looked elsewhere to corroborate this figure.

Population is the most relevant metric for growth (other metrics will be analyzed in future posts), and the provincial government keeps records of populations for municipalities dating back to 1913.  For the sake of modernity I started at 1971.

From 1971-2011, Peace River grew 34%, an annualized growth rate of 0.73%.

Provincial growth over that time period was 133% and the average growth of all towns in Alberta with 2011 populations between 5000 and 10000 was 167%.

Peace River grew 34% against an average of 167%, coming in with the second slowest growth among peers.  Blackfalds was a village in 1971, having over 4000 fewer people than Peace River.  By 2011, it surpassed our population numbers.

What about more recent growth? In every 5 year period from 1991 to 2006, the highest we’ve placed out of 22 towns is 19th.  We actually shed 5% of our population between 1996 and 2001.  From 2006 to 2011 we placed 12th, growing 6.6% against an average for the group of 9.1%.  

Overall, in the 20 years from 1991-2011 (for 10 of which we had the same mayor, including 2010-present), we added 12 people to our town.

Twelve people in twenty years.

It’s a number 12, but not nearly as flattering as the figure Mayor Mann stated.

To be fair though, he did say this 12% “confirmed” growth occurred in 2012.  Do we have more recent figures?

Taxation is another metric that indicates growth.  If tax rates stay constant (which they have for the last 3 years, the pros and cons of which will be covered later) but total tax revenue increases, this means the property values, the number of rate payers, or both have increased.  

In Mayor Mann’s first full fiscal year in office for this term, 2011, tax revenue increased a paltry 1%, less than inflation of 3%.  From 2011 to 2012, it actually decreased 0.2%.

But he did write the above article in 2013.  Maybe there has been a massive explosion of growth in tax revenue in the last year.

As this 2013 budget summary from the Town shows, they are only banking on a 1% growth increase.

Not 12%.  

1%.

Exactly where we’ve been for the last 22 years.

Why has this number not budged?  What is holding us back?  And what can we do to move forward?

*NOTE:If you wish to see the methodology and references for this post, and all future posts, go to the Methodology and References page.

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3 Responses to Twelve in Twenty

  1. Wanda Laurin says:

    I wonder if the incredibly expensive real-estate market is holding us back? We have been as expensive as Grande Prairie at times. It would be useful to look into the real-estate market/sales and see why it is that our housing is so costly. Why are we, in a remote area in the north, looking at such expensive housing (apartments, multiplexes, condos and houses)? It seems to have gone through the roof (our house quadrupled in value between 2006 and 2008, and it has not come back down. Lovely if we wanted to sell it, but we don’t want to move, and therefore we just pay more hefty taxes as a result. I have no idea if it is affordability of housing, that affects if people move to Peace River or not, it would be nice to have a real-estate review.
    As for Mann’s inflated growth numbers; back when they were trying to assimilate land from the surrounding counties, they had a ridiculous report done up to demonstrate we should expect some massive growth in town over the next 30 years. Northern Sunrise County had to hire another consultant (under Bob Miles), to demonstrate that the numbers were completely inflated and not substantiated. More of the same again.

  2. I’d like to post a quick erratum to my first post titled. I initially stated that I sent e-mails to both Lorne Mann and Kelly Bunn asking for clarification on the 12% growth figure. However, I was alerted that although I did e-mail Kelly, it was not regarding the 12% growth figure. A quick reference back to my e-mail archive showed this to be correct. There was a separate article in the April 24 Record Gazette Business & Industry Supplement stating that 7% growth was reported in 2012. I e-mailed Kelly at the time looking for the source of this. He passed that query onto the communications coordinator for the town, TJ Flynn, who did a wonderful job clarifying the statement for me. The 7% growth refers to the growth in population from 2006 to 2011 as per the Canadian census. And this figure was in fact reported in 2012. I apologize for the oversight and thank Kelly and TJ for responding to this query at the time, as well as to TJ for drawing my attention to the oversight. I aim to be as factual as possible in my writing, but will make mistakes from time to time. And if brought to my attention, I will ensure they are corrected promptly.

  3. Pingback: Building the Case | Peace River Votes 2013

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