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ALAN HOLMAN: Island cities do poorly in national survey

Charlottetown. photo
Charlottetown. - 123RF Stock Photo

Tourists are constantly telling Islanders that they live in a wonderfully, benign, part of the world. Most Islanders tend to agree and wouldn’t live anywhere else. This is the best place in Canada, we tell ourselves.

Just suppose, pure fantasy of course, you wanted to live somewhere else. Where would you go? Not everyone is the same, people have different priorities and needs.

But should you want to move and have a family or planning on having one, MacLean’s magazine recently did an analysis of 415 communities in Canada to determine the best place in the country to live.

MacLean’s used 10 criteria: wealth and economy, affordability, population growth, taxes, commute, crime, weather, access to health care, amenities and culture.

But the different criteria didn’t have the same weight. Wealth and economy were valued at a total of 20 points. It was composed of the unemployment rate, which was given three points, a drop in that rate over a year was worth another three points, an increase in fulltime jobs was worth six points, median household income was four points and the average household net worth was given four points.

Weather was another factor – cities with the most days above freezing did better, as did those with the fewest days of rain or snow.

Affordability was determined by a variety of factors: average primary real estate value, home affordability (by dividing real estate value by average income) rent affordability was determine in the same manner, yearly rent increases were considered.

Growth was considered an advantage, as were lower taxes, a low crime rate, lots of doctors and hospitals, closeness to colleges and universities, and having people working in cultural pursuits.

Where to go. Oh, where to go?

If good weather is your prime concern, MacLean’s says move to Summerland, B.C. It’s a town of 11,000 on the shore of Okanagan Lake, and it’s number one for weather. Too far west, then Leamington, or any of the towns and cities of southwestern Ontario should be alright.

If you have a young family and are looking for a house, then Russell, just south of Ottawa, is the place for you. It’s number two on the list for affordability and number six on the list for the place to raise a family.

Oh, no kids and you’re retired. Believe it or not, MacLean’s says the number one spot for retirees is Toronto – likely because of the number of doctors (3145) and specialists (321 per 100,000).

Taking all of the criteria into account, MacLean’s says Burlington, Ont., is the best place in Canada to live. It’s about halfway between Toronto and Hamilton. With a population of just under 200,000 it has a crime rate that’s more than half of Charlottetown’s crime rate.

Burlington has nearly twice as many doctors and an unemployment rate that is half of Charlottetown’s, and it has 34 more days above freezing than Charlottetown.

Burlington is one of 28 Ontario communities that made the top 50 of the MacLean’s list of 415 best places to live in Canada.

So, how did Charlottetown fare in the MacLean’s survey? Not well. First, it should be said that no city or town in Atlantic Canada ranked in the top 100 of the survey. Halifax was the top city in the region, and it was at 131 on the list. Rothesay (141) and Quispamsis (231) were second and third.

Charlottetown is at 233 and was fourth among the cities of Atlantic Canada. Fredericton, N.B. at 244 was fifth. St. John’s, N.L. was at 264.

Summerside, the only other Island community on the list, was at 398.

Islanders should read the MacLean’s story and closely examine the criteria. They may not agree with the findings, or the criteria. But they might keep them in mind the next time they wonder why it’s so hard to get doctors to come here, or why immigrants come for a few months, then leave.

Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at:

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