British Columbia

Revelstoke's population could be double official tally, mayor believes

“We have known for some time that our population far exceeds what census figures tell us it is. We will be able to use more accurate population figures to understand the demand for housing, to understand the demands on city services and infrastructure."

StatsCan says its number is accurate after town hires analytics company for recount

Revelstoke's mayor thinks Statistics Canada has underestimated the real population of his community. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

The people of Revelstoke, B.C., have stood up and been counted — again.

The official population of the Kootenay town is 7,547, according to the 2016 census, but Mayor Gary Sulz says locals have known for years the number is much higher than that — perhaps even double.

"The census tells us we are around 75-hundred," said Sulz. "The data we have suggests the resident population is over 13,000."

Sulz says the community hired Telus Insight, an analytics company, to do a more thorough population count.

The company crunched the numbers last spring and fall and Sulz says they found the actual population of Revelstoke is at least 13,000 people.  

City council and the community's economic development office are now trying to figure out what to do with the new population count, which Sulz says could have a huge impact on planning, funding requests and policing.

"We will be able to use more accurate population figures to understand the demand for housing, to understand the demands on city services and infrastructure," he said.

"Because we are just getting this data to us now we haven't had a chance to go back to the government to say we need more of this or more of that to service our community. It will play a role."

Sulz says the official census was done in a shoulder season in Revelstoke, before seasonal workers began arriving.

But Sulz also says Revelstoke has boomed since 2016 and the long-term resident population is surging.

Doubled population 'unlikely': StatsCan

Statistics Canada stands by its number.

Manager Marc Ahmel says it has a formula used nationally for determining population. Ahmel says he doesn't think the resident population of Revelstoke could be double what they found in 2016.

"That would be mostly unlikely," Ahmel said. "If a population is measured using different methodologies or maybe even slightly different concepts, the results may be different."

The census relies on resident response, so does generally not count seasonal workers.

Ahmel says communities can dispute their official count but Revelstoke did not do that in 2016. He says the community will not get a new count from Statistics Canada.

The next nationwide census is in 2021.

With files from Bob Keating


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