News » Whistler

Count yourself in



Knock, knock. Who’s there? Census. Census who? Census you.

That knocking sound on your door is not a joke – it’s a representative for the 2001 Census.

The national census, taken every five years, is used to determine population figures and socio-economic information for towns, regions and provinces in Canada.

Anna Buckley, the Whistler area’s census commissioner, said local residents have been very receptive to the 40 representatives who have been distributing the census questionnaires.

"It’s been going really well," she told Pique Newsmagazine . "We’ve been getting a great response."

The census is used by the federal government to determine the amount of transfer payments to the provinces for things such as social services and infrastructure planning.

Census data is also used by all levels of government – including regional and municipal – to maintain local services including health care, bus routes, schools, day care, police and fire protection, subsidized housing and employment and training programs.

Buckley said Whistler will lose $1,000 per person per year – that adds up to $5,000 per person until the next census – in federal transfer payments if local data is not accurate.

Buckley also acknowledges there is a unique situation in Whistler because of its large transient population, and she understands the census is being taken in the spring, when the local population is at or near its lowest. Whistler’s population is at its peak during the summer and winter months.

"We recognize this is a low time," she said.

According to Buckley, her staff has been contacting property management companies for up-to-date information on rental units. The census counts all hotel guests, either Canadian or foreign, as temporary residents. Representatives will be blitzing local hotels May 14-15.

Meanwhile, Whistler’s population figures from the 2001 census are expected to top the 10,000-person mark, which means the municipality will gain another seat on the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

Whistler will then have more say in regional matters, such as planning, transit, recreation facilities, libraries and search and rescue.

Currently, Squamish, with a population of 14,000, is the only town in the SLRD with more than one seat. Whistler, Pemberton and Lillooet all have one seat. Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly occupies the municipality’s lone seat.

Whistler’s population was 7,200 in 1996, up from 4,500 during the 1991 census, which meant the municipality had to take on its policing costs. In British Columbia, the province covers the cost of RCMP services in a town of less than 5,000.

Census representatives began delivering questionnaires to households on May 1 and will continue until May 12. Eighty per cent of households will receive the short questionnaire, which takes about 10 minutes to complete. The long questionnaire is delivered to one in five households and takes about 25 minutes to complete.

Two new questions appear on the census form this year: birthplace of parents and language spoken at work.

Canada is ranked No. 1 world-wide in accurate census data and residents are required by law to provide information required in the census.

The questionnaires are to be mailed to Statistics Canada by May 15.