By Trevor Busch
Another explosion of growth since 2011 in the Village of Barnwell has that municipality quickly closing the gap between village and town status.
In municipal census figures recently collected by the village and presented to council on June 18, the Village of Barnwell’s official population is now 960, up 148 residents from 2011. According to the municipality, the village’s population was 812 in 2011 at the time of the last census. At the time, this represented an increase of more than 20 per cent from 2006, as the village’s numbers had risen from a population of 618.
“That’s good,” said Mayor Eric Jensen. “That’s basically a 19 per cent increase again.”
Maintaining a growth rate in the double digits is no small feat for any municipality. By comparison, the Town of Taber’s population growth rate was only 6.8 per cent between 2006 and 2011. Municipalities are required to have a population of 1,000 or greater to qualify for town status in Alberta, putting the Village of Barnwell within striking distance of that population milestone.
“You have to have a population of 1,000 to become a town, if you so chose to do that,” said CAO Wendy Bateman. “We went to a meeting, and were talking about the advantages of a town as opposed to a village. There is none — the only thing they say is it maybe gives you a little more prestige.”
Coun. Darrell Turner commented that while growth is good, it can come with added expenses for a municipality in future.
“Once you hit that 5,000 mark, you start paying for your own policing, too. I’ve learned that.”
Bateman pointed out the village’s rate of growth has already far exceeded estimates made in the mid-2000’s.
“In about 2006, it was projected that at that rate of growth, by 2025 we would reach about 650.”
Following discussion, council voted unanimously (4-0) to accept the census figures as information. Coun. Jane Jensen was absent.