Okotoks is no longer Alberta's largest town.

Recently-released statistics from the 2021 federal census show Okotoks' population sitting at 30,405, with Cochrane having surpassed it at 34,467.

It came as no big surprise to Mayor Tanya Thorn.

"Cochrane's been growing at a significant rate of change over the last few years, we knew they were nipping at our heels before."

The previous census in 2016 showed Okotoks' population to be 29,016, with Cochrane trailing behind at 25,853.

Thorn recalls the town lifting its population cap ten years prior, but noted that it's effectively remained in place due to the town's ongoing water issues.

"In Okotoks, we're growing at a rate that we can sustain with our current water challenges right now, so that is going to put us at a slow growth rate... we've got an element that other communities aren't dealing with. We've got an added challenge, and that's the water piece. It does create a natural barrier and it has restricted our growth."

It's not all bad, says Thorn, as Okotoks hasn't had to incur the significant infrastructure changes and additional expenses that come with higher rates of growth.

"Over the last five years we've been at 4.8, Cochrane's been at 24.5. That's the percentage of change over the last five years. That's a significant rate of growth to maintain services and keep up. Not to criticize another municipality, that's not my intent, but they've got a 10 per cent tax increase this year."

The mayor seems to have taken the news in good stride, going as far as to take a playful jab at Alberta's new largest town.

"It's good for Cochrane to have bragging rights for something, for a change. We'll let them be the largest town in the province for a while."