The Town of Creston has been informed by the provincial government that its projections indicate the town’s population could drop below the 5,000 mark in this year’s census.
While the official numbers might not be known until next year, the information was intended to alert town council that if the population does not stay above the 5,000 threshold, the costs of policing borne by town property would revert to near pre-2011 levels.
“The provincial data shows that Creston’s population has declined steadily since the last census, which showed our population was 5,332,” Mayor Ron Toyota said on Monday. “The latest estimate from BC Stats (Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services) says we were under 5,000 in 2015.”
If the 2016 federal census confirms an under-5,000 population, the Town of Creston would once again not be responsible for policing costs. Instead, a significantly lower police tax would be included in municipal property tax bills.
The net difference to Creston taxpayers when the population jumped over the 5,000 mark was several hundred dollars for an average property, Toyota said. Increases to cover policing took effect in 2012.
“I am surprised because it doesn’t seem like our population is shrinking, but if it has to such an extent it will mean town council will have some interesting discussions next year.”
Council would consider a number of options at that time. Toyota said his personal inclination would be to fund a new police reserve (to be used if and when the population goes back over 5,000), pay for some infrastructure needs and reduce property taxes.