In the recent census Gull Lake experienced the biggest population loss among towns of 800 to 1000 people in Saskatchewan.
The 2021 census shows the Town’s population dropped 13.2 percent, from 1046 people in 2016, to 908 in 2021.
The table below shows population change for towns of 800 to 1100 people. Eleven towns saw their population shrink, with an average decline of 5.8 percent. GullLake’s loss was more than double that, at 13.2 percent.
Declining over the years
Gull Lake has lost 22 percent of its population since 1986, dropping from 1164 people to 908.
Effects of shrinking population
A declining population creates economic challenges for a community. Fewer people means fewer individuals available to work, as well as reduced demand for goods and services. That leads to business closures with residents forced to go to other places to find the goods and services they need. With a shrinking population, towns must raise taxes to maintain the same level of service, but higher taxes make the community less attractive to existing or new residents. Fewer people also means fewer volunteers and small towns get much of their energy and programs from their volunteers.
Neighbouring southwest towns are growing
Most of Gull Lake’s neighbouring towns and villages saw growth between 2016 and 2021.
City of Swift Current grew 0.9 percent in the census period, from 16,604 to 16,750.
How do we change this trend?
Lindsay Aliban is Gull Lake’s Economic Development Officer. She often hears residents say “Gull Lake is too close to Swift Current”—meaning that people go to Swift to shop or work. However she encourages us to see Swift Current as an opportunity and a large market for Gull Lake. As she says, “We are so close to Swift Current that residents choose to visit here for local attractions, affordable recreation, events and to do business!”
The Economic Development Committee is taking action to attract people and business by:
-getting creative for development and investment,
-encouraging local investment,
-working with local businesses to promote, expand, and diversify existing businesses, and
-collaborating with Tourism, Town Council, local organizations and regional communities.
Lindsey encourages residents and local business owners to help by:
-sharing our enthusiasm and interest in Gull Lake far and wide. Word of moth and social media shares help attract new residents and businesses;
-joining a committee and volunteering ideas and time to build quality of life here in our community.
Help plan the future by coming to the Community Action Forum on December 1. All are welcome! Contact Lindsey Aliban or Town Office to register.