“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.
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.