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Gladstone mayor stunned province disputing numbers

Do as I say, not as I do — that’s the message Gladstone Mayor Eileen Clarke received loud and clear from the provincial government recently.

Clarke disputes the 2011 census that pins Gladstone’s population at 879.

Because of what she believes is inferior information, the town is forced to amalgamate with another municipality in the province because they are below the 1,000-resident population threshold.

Clarke went door-to-door in Gladstone to prove the community has a population of more than 1,000 residents. After pounding the pavement, she came up with a number of 1,015.

The province told Clarke the number couldn’t be disputed, and that the census is the only official number recognized by the Municipal Modernization Act.

So imagine her surprise when she learned the province was disputing census numbers on the basis Statistics Canada missed 18,000 Manitobans. The province claims it will be shortchanged millions in federal transfer dollars because of the discrepancy.

“When I read that in the paper, it was mind-boggling — are you kidding me?” she said, adding that Gladstone’s request to be exempted from amalgamation was denied.

Hypocritical might be the best word to describe it.

While the province can dispute the numbers for its benefit, Gladstone cannot.

The province stands to lose millions of dollars because of the discrepancy, Gladstone stands to lose its identity.

“It’s disappointing because they know this,” Clarke said. “If they would have listened to the municipalities early on, there would have been a lot less frustration.”

One day after the Dec. 1 deadline to submit an amalgamation plan, Gladstone received a letter from the government telling them they will be amalgamating with the RMs of Lakeview and Westbourne.

She said the legislation has created rifts between municipalities that had good working agreements in the past.

Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers said the census data is fair for everyone.

“We wanted to be fair to all municipalities and the only way we could do that is to use the most recent census numbers,” he said. “The 2011 census is the most accurate and up to date number that we had available ... If municipalities are making the point that their number would be over 1,000, they have no basis to say that.”

» Brandon Sun

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 21, 2013

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Do as I say, not as I do — that’s the message Gladstone Mayor Eileen Clarke received loud and clear from the provincial government recently.

Clarke disputes the 2011 census that pins Gladstone’s population at 879.

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Do as I say, not as I do — that’s the message Gladstone Mayor Eileen Clarke received loud and clear from the provincial government recently.

Clarke disputes the 2011 census that pins Gladstone’s population at 879.

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