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Civic Census General Information

What is the Civic Census?

The Civic Census is the official count of dwelling units and the population who are living in these units, by the door to door physical collection and recording of data. This count of dwellings and residents may be supplemented yearly with other information such as the periodic age/gender distribution data, etc. This additional data is pertinent to the use and interpretation of the population statistics.

The City of Calgary first conducted a Civic Census in 1931 and continued periodically until 1958 when an annual count of population started and has continued since.

The Civic Census is conducted in accordance with Section 57 of the Municipal Government Act (Revised Statutes of Alberta 1994, Chapter M-26.1).

Why is the Civic Census taken?

The annual Civic Census information is used by The City for a variety of planning and program service delivery purposes, and by the Province for the determination of grants if available. The information is also used by a variety of outside agencies such as communities, businesses, charities, researchers, etc.


It is essential for City departments and related agencies to have accurate and up-to-date statistical information on the residents of Calgary to make informed and appropriate decisions on the provision of population based city services, such as transportation, roads, transit, fire protection, police services, utilities, recreation, etc. Basing decisions on constantly updated demographics results in more appropriate use of City revenues and this particularly so in times of rapid change.


The Province of Alberta provides limited grants to municipalities specifically for transportation and libraries. The amounts of these grants are calculated on a per capita basis using the population from either an annual Civic Census or the latest Federal Census. Since Calgary is growing faster than other cities and municipalities in Alberta, the civic census provides a greater monetary return to The City. This remains true despite the great decreases in grants from the Province. The additional grant amounts are presently more than the cost of conducting the census.

School Board information

Under a cost sharing understanding between the City of Calgary and both the Public and Separate School Boards, data is collected for the Boards during the Census. This information is required for enrolment predictions, decisions on future schools, transportation needs, etc. With decreasing funds available for education, the information obtained by the Census is now more important and necessary for allocation of resources.

When & Why - Civic Census dates

The Civic Census is conducted at the same time every year, usually commencing April 1st. The door to door canvassing continues for approximately three weeks.

The April timing was set by previous provincial legislation but remains an appropriate time. With the size of Calgary, the Census could not be completed by the required date if it started later than the first of April.

The Federal Census

The annual Civic Census is NOT related to the Census done by the Federal Government pursuant to the Statistics Act (Canada). The Federal Census collects different information than the Civic Census and is conducted once every five years in the month of May (ie. 2001, 2006, 2011, etc.). In the Federal Census, Census Questionnaires are mailed to every household in Canada. Households who do not complete their questionnaire are visited by a Census Taker.

Civic Census Policy

For additional information on the Civic Census, please consult the Civic Census Policy.


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