Determining how much a town or city is growing or shrinking can be a bit tricky, but with a lot of time and effort you can come away with some numbers that paint a picture of a community’s direction.

As the result of a recent update from the municipal assessor, Crowsnest Pass council asked administration to gather information on how neighbouring municipalities assess their growth.

Administration worked with regional municipalities and the municipal assessor to determine the growth of other southern Alberta urban communities over the last five years according to property assessment, new house development permits and new lots created.

Administration presented their findings at the July 11 council meeting.

The result showed Crowsnest Pass as the community with the highest levels of growth in all three sectors. 

Property assessment for 2022 showed Crowsnest Pass at a total of $1.45 billion, with Taber being the next closest municipality at $1.32 billion. While $102 million of Crowsnest’s growth was the result of inflation, $45.8 million came from straight growth, as compared to Taber’s $27.9-million increase.

Closer communities like Nanton, Claresholm and Fort Macleod had 2022 assessment totals of only $368.7 million, $663.8 million and $594.9 million, respectively.

Closer still, Crowsnest Pass had a total of 207 new home development permits from 2018 to 2023. Sparwood had 121 in that same time frame, and Elkford 74; Claresholm, Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek together totalled only 108 (63, 28 and 17, respectively).

As for new lots by subdivision, Crowsnest Pass had a total 129 over the last five years, which is more than the totals of Fort Macleod, Claresholm, Pincher Creek, Cardston, Nanton and Elkford combined.

CAO Patrick Thomas said the results were encouraging and impressive, particularly the increase in the growth of property value in the municipality.

“Taber has a population of 9,200 whereas Crowsnest Pass had 5,700. Proportionately, we’re slightly larger in assets than a community that’s supporting 2,500 more people than us,” he said.

“It’s great to see, we definitely are a strong development in the region and we’re seeing a lot of growth,” Thomas continued. “Sometimes we’re living it so much we don’t know how successful the community is being, and when I started seeing a few of the numbers going in I was really excited.”

While the municipal growth was good, members of council were wary that the larger numbers meant residents were having to shell out more money for a place to call home.

“I want to make sure we’re really keeping our eye on the prize — is there a segment of our population that’s getting missed out because the price of housing in this community is going through the roof?” said Coun. Lisa Sygutek.

Coun. Glen Girhiny added that the jump in assessment was probably a result of pressures on the housing market associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These numbers are impressive and scary to me,” he said. “It shows this is a precursor of what is coming to this community, where we will not be able to live in our own town. If we don’t put a clamp down on this somewhere, somehow, sometime, in another four or five years the average cost to live here is going to be beyond most people’s means. We will be a resort community, if we want to call it that.

“The numbers look awesome, but they scare the pants off me. They really, really do.”

On the flip side, Coun. Dean Ward said the positives associated with the growth meant the community was heading in the right direction.

“I take great comfort in these numbers,” he said. “For the better part of 20 years, I’ve sat in this room and I’ve listened to ‘nothing is happening in the Crowsnest Pass, nobody is building, nobody is doing anything,’ on and on and on. But now if you look at these last five years, it really is starting time here. Things are happening.” 

“For the first time in 30 years our census number went up,” Ward continued. “There’s a lot of good things about the Crowsnest Pass, and we need to be more positive about it and say those things out there.”

Council thanked administration for the work in compiling the information and requested it look into how the figures could be communicated to the public, along with making the information part of an annual report.

The regional totals for property assessment, new home development permits, and new lots by subdivision are on the last two pages of council’s meeting agenda, available online at

The next council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 15, 7 p.m. in council chambers.

By Laurie Tritschler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 26, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Shootin' the Breeze   Pincher Creek, Alberta

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