© Herald file photo
Mayor Greg Dionne wants to see the city’s population grow to 50,000 by the year 2025.
Boiled down to its bare bones, the tentative plan for Prince Albert’s future is population growth.
By 2025, Mayor Greg Dionne wants to see the city’s population total 50,000 people.
Such growth marks a unique challenge -- the difficulty of which depending on what numbers one chooses to follow.
Statistics Canada’s latest count (2011) notes a city population of 35,129 -- a 1,000-person jump from 2006.
At the time of the count’s 2012 release, the city disputed the number, which at 2.94 per cent was the lowest rate of growth among Saskatchewan cities.
Prince Albert’s large transient population, in which people consider themselves residents of other communities even though they stay in Prince Albert, was considered a contributing factor for the low count.
Now, Dionne said he, city council and administration are all looking at a continued effort to increase the city’s population, regardless of how it’s counted or determined.
“When the population grows it grows your tax base -- It grows everything in your city,” he said. “It takes relief off your tax base.
“Sometimes you can fund your increases just by growth, and it would be kind of nice to not raise taxes for a couple years because of our growth.”
The population increase initiative was one of many key findings from two days of private meetings between city council and administration that were held last week, Dionne explained, referring to them as “strategic planning sessions.”
“We’re a little more focused on what we want to do and where we want to bring the city in the next couple years, so people will soon hear some of our announcements on what we want to do and some changes I’m excited about,” he said.
Sometimes you can fund your increases just by growth, and it would be kind of nice to not raise taxes for a couple years because of our growth. Greg Dionne
Everything to the “kitchen sink” was discussed, he said, noting that “we really want to become customer service friendly and we want people to know we’re open.”
After the session’s facilitator has compiled all of council and administration’s findings, they’ll be distilled into a report that will be made available to the public, Dionne said.
In the days leading up to Jan. 1, 2014, Dionne said that improving the local economy would be key – a statement he reaffirmed this week, noting that it’s the first step in reaching his population goal of 50,000.
“I hope we have a vibrant community and that we have great jobs for our young people to stay here.”
Last week’s two-day strategic planning get-together was closed to the public, meaning the city’s elected officials did not make any changes to the city.
As per the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Government Relations protocol, “no business can be transacted, including the passing of resolutions or bylaws. If council agrees on actions to be taken, the proposed actions will need to come back to an open/public meeting for ratification.”
Also under Ministry of Government Relations protocol, “Long-range or strategic planning” is listed as a viable reason for holding meetings out of the public eye.