Data confirms Meadow Lake’s city status

by Phil Ambroziak

Welcome to the City of Meadow Lake.

That’s a statement that can now be uttered with certainty following the Feb. 8 release of official 2011 census numbers. The data, which shows Meadow Lake’s population to be 5,045, cements the community’s status as a city.

“Any community leader is happy when they see growth,” remarked Meadow Lake Mayor Gary Vidal. “City status does provide us with some upsides and that is something we can all look forward to.”

These “upsides”, Vidal said, include opportunities to attend special functions involving other cities and to benefit from their knowledge and experience.

“We get to be at the table with other cities, which is very positive from a networking standpoint,” Vidal continued. “It’s an opportunity to be on the same level as some of the major players in the marketplace.”

Meadow Lake is one of 15 cities in the province and Vidal noted the mayors of these cities also hold regular conference calls to discuss a variety of matters. This is something he believes could also prove beneficial for Meadow Lake.

“Being able to have access to these people in a smaller setting and to be able to learn from them holds great value,” he said.

City manager Bruno Kossmann echoed the mayor’s comments, adding there could be even further benefits to being a city.

“It could eventually have positive repercussions on revenue sharing grants, but at the moment it does not,” Kossmann confirmed. “The word ‘status’ explains it all. Meadow Lake is now one of 15 cities in the province, which is a little higher than saying it’s one of 80, 90, 100 or however many towns in the province.”

Meadow Lake’s increased population could prove costly, however, in the form of a new RCMP contract.

According to Kossmann, any community with a population of more than 5,000, whether it’s classified as a city or not, must negotiate a direct contract with the RCMP and the federal government opposed to being billed by the province on a per capita basis.

While details pertaining to this new contract were still being discussed by deadline, Kossmann said he expects the final numbers to be quite different than what the community has already been paying for policing.

“I am reluctant to say what the number could be, but it’s a scary number – I expect a drastic increase in cost,” he said.

Vidal said the increased cost for RCMP service was expected, noting one of the first things he did after being elected was engage people at the provincial level to see what can be done to help offset whatever new cost is announced.

“They’ve been very cooperative,” the mayor said. “The level of police service we receive is not going to change, but how it’s paid will be different. It’s tough because we’re within the one per cent threshold (of having less than 5,000).”

Vidal suspects a new contract could likely come into play by April 1. Details, he reiterated, are still being discussed and nothing has been officially determined. He did confirm the new police contract has nothing to do with Meadow Lake’s decision to seek city status.

“This policing thing has nothing to do with us being a city,” he said. “If we were still classified as a town or even if we were called a village, we would still be having these same conversations because our population is more than 5,000. This cost matter has everything to do with population.”

Meadow Lake’s population in 2006 was 4,771. A special census, however, was conducted three years ago, determining it could be classified as a city. The official 2011 census results further support this classification and ensure the community will retain its city status even if numbers drop below 5,000 in the future.

The population of Meadow Lake has continually increased from one census to the next. Records indicate the population in 1981 was only 3,857.


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