As Rosie pointed out this morning, the new census data indicating the growth of the West is, well, unreliable at best. But, as the Leader-Post reports, that hasn’t deterred premier Brad Wall from commenting on the good news in the census data, which is that Saskatchewan is actually growing again, instead of bleeding people all over the map.*

Take it away, Fearless Leader:

“There are jobs here and it’s a great place to live,” he said. “I think those are the two reasons people would come to the west. I have a real sense that there is a political and economic shift in the country and it’s a good thing.”

Except, ha ha, what’s this? Maybe there is a third reason people would come to the West: to live out some kind of weird fantasy about being a statistical ghost. The CBC reports:

A longtime resident of Atwater, Sask., says there is something wrong with census data which suggests the population of the village is now at zero.

“Whoops,” somebody is probably saying, really exasperatedly.

And yeah, you could make all kinds of grim and dire projections based on this story -– that Atwater would have, unless its residents not happened upon a radio report that declared their home no longer a place, found it hard to receive any funding from either provincial or municipal governments; that there are probably dozens of communities across Saskatchewan and, indeed, the country that have grossly inaccurate numbers, making it hard to plan for the appropriate levels of services (cf. the sidebar to the CBC piece, in which La Ronge mayor Thomas Sierzycki says that an incorrect per-capita count on his town could lead to a significant gap in services); that the congruence of a lack of funding and a lack of appropriate services could allow the government to make cuts to vital programs on the basis that there’s less need for them, all the while crowing about austerity and efficiency; and so on. You could also argue that this story is incredibly embarrassing for a 21st-century G8 government, since it suggests that our information on our own population is Dark Ages-calibre garbage that does a disservice to the term “guesstimate.”

Or, like me, you could just read what one Atwater resident had to say and make a sad-turtle face:

“I’m sorry, I’m still here,” Sharon Gelowitz told CBC News Wednesday after learning her community’s population had fallen to nothing, according to the latest census. “And I live right in the village.”

:( :( :( :( :(

*Not to toot my own horn, here, but over at the Carillon we recently explored Regina’s abhorrent vacancy rate and its terrifying potential to actually force all of our young people who reach the nest-leaving age to just, you know, move to a city where they can find a place to live that they don’t have to buy. So as far as the whole projected growth thing is concerned, well, we’ll see how that goes, I guess.