Statistics Canada has accepted Tofino’s request to review its 2016 census results.
As previously reported in the Westerly News, Tofino is in staunch disagreement with the census’ suggestion that the district’s dwelling count rose by only four, from 1,033 to 1,037, between 2011 and 2016.
Tofino’s Manager of Community Sustainability Aaron Rodgers immediately figured something was off with the numbers and requested an official review from Statistics Canada, who agreed to take another look.
“They were very, very responsive,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised…Sometimes it takes a while for the government to get back to you and, in this situation, they were back to us in less than 24 hours.”
Rodgers said he and his staff conducted their own review and the district’s records suggest 99, not four, new dwellings were built.
“We looked back into our building permit records and specifically how many dwellings were constructed over that period of time and those records showed that we had built 99 dwelling units in Tofino over the period that the census is concerned about,” he said.
Rodgers acknowledged that the census’ currently dismal growth suggestion is a bruise on Tofino’s reputation, but said his main motivation is to make sure the numbers are right before applying them to the district’s planning strategies, like land-use and water and sewer capacity.
“I’m happy that they’re looking at this so that we can ensure the information that’s being presented is accurate. It’s less of an issue for me what it looks like from the outside,” he said.
“Obviously I want to see Tofino presented in its best light…but I’m less concerned about the optics than I am about getting the correct data.”
He added the wide discrepancy between Stats Canada’s four and Tofino’s 99 lowers his confidence in the census’ other data, particularly population.
“It’s a question worth exploring once we hear back from them,” he said. “If they agree with us and it shows that we have indeed added 99 dwellings in the last 4-5 years, my next question to Statistics Canada will be, ‘Does that impact the overall population numbers?”
He added it’s disappointing to see potentially inaccurate data stemming from the census, but noted Canada had not conducted a thorough one in a while and likely needs to work out a few kinks.
“The last time we did a census, it was a household survey, so the process is possibly being reborn anew and maybe, because of that, there’s going to be some hiccups,” he said.
“I would have really loved it if we had excellent and accurate data every time but, as we’re just picking up the whole census idea again as a country, I’m more than willing to give everybody a bit of leeway as we figure out how to do that again.”
He said Statistics Canada has not given a timeline for the review, but noted all reviews must be done by July 2018.