Nolan Crouse wants city staff to look at collecting census data exclusively online instead of sending enumerators door to door.
The mayor made the statement during Monday's council meeting during a review of the 2010 municipal census that saw St. Albert's population top the 60,000 mark. It was the city's first attempt at incorporating online data collection, which 40 per cent of respondents utilized.
"What was interesting, and I would call satisfying, was to see the potential for the online," said Crouse. "I want to know what the threshold is of doing this."
Nearly 99 per cent of the city responded to the census, which ran from April 1 to May 7. The data showed the city grew to 60,138, or by 2.8 per cent since the 2008 census. As well, the results showed an average of 2.7 people per household, with 81 per cent of residents living in a single family home. Overall, 88 per cent of St. Albert citizens own their own home, while another 12 per cent rent.
Census organizer Chris Belke said he believed the online option for the census, which was available from April 1 to 16, played a large role in the increased responses.
Crouse asked administration how much money the city would save if it went to an online-only census in future years. He commented that the response to the online option proved there could be some viability to the idea and work as a money saver for the city.
"The statistics are more accurate and more timely," he said. "I'm trying to be visionary here … we could lead Alberta, we could lead in cost savings."
Coun. James Burrows also asked administration to find out if St. Albert could be eligible for provincial funding if they served as a test case for an online-only census.
Staff had not considered the idea in the past according to Belke, adding a number of discussions would be needed to ensure the idea is possible. A major question mark is whether Municipal Affairs would accept data collected only from the Internet.
Of the roughly 25 per cent of residents who moved in the last three years, 25 per cent of them moved to St. Albert from Edmonton. Coun. Gareth Jones later said he was happy to hear St. Albert had lured people away from the provincial capital, adding that it showed people still wanted to live in the city.
"People are recognizing the fact that there is a good quality of life here," he said.
Jones said he was not surprised to see that 31 per cent of residents are between the ages of 45 and 64, adding that it was a growing issue across the country with the aging baby boomer population. However, he added that he wanted the next census to break those ages down further to allow the city to better see how fast residents are aging.