St. Albert is the best place in Canada to raise children and the fifth best overall city to live in, according to rankings by the personal finance magazine Money Sense.
Good access to day care and good job prospects were factors that helped St. Albert achieve top ranking for child-rearing, says the magazine’s April issue. Rounding out the top five list are Repentigny, Que., Brandon, Man. Winnipeg, Man. and Lethbridge.
The magazine will publish more detail in its June issue.
In terms of overall liveability, the list is topped by Ottawa-Gatineau, Victoria, B.C. Burlington, Ont. and Kingston, Ont.
After St. Albert come Fredericton, N.B., Brandon, Edmonton, Repentigny and Winnipeg.
It’s the sixth year for the rankings, which are based on data compiled from 180 Canadian cities and towns with populations over 10,000 people. The magazine ranks cities based on home affordability, climate, prosperity, crime rates, access to health care, lifestyle, transit, amenities and culture.
Each criterion is based on specific information from a specific source, such as data from the last census or Statistics Canada.
“It’s an extremely subjective decision where we live and why we like living there,” explained Romana King, features editor for Money Sense. “We try and take the subjectivity out of it and create a way of valuing it that’s a little bit more analytical.”
The list is supposed to include every city or town with a population above 10,000 but St. Albert hasn’t been included until this year. King had no idea why.
The list didn’t account for property tax levels, which draw ongoing complaints from St. Albert residents.
The ranking is designed to be a useful tool to help Canadians decide where to launch a career, raise a family, retire or simply make a fresh start, the magazine says.
The nation’s largest metropolises, like Vancouver, ranked at 29, and Toronto, at 88, are further down the list from many smaller, less popular cities. These large cities lose ground due to high real estate costs and long commute times, King said.
Montreal, ranked 123, is hampered by the fact that employment prospects may be limited for people who aren’t fully bilingual, she said.
Many of the highest ranked communities are located just outside a major urban centre, so they enjoy good employment prospects while maintaining a stronger community feel, King said.
“I think people naturally gravitate to a major urban centre because they think the opportunity is there,” King said. “We’re beginning to realize there’s great opportunity in surrounding urban centres.”
Mayor Nolan Crouse had never heard of the ranking before and knew little about its methodology but was still pleased to see St. Albert near the top.
“It’s always good when you’re on these lists as opposed to not being on them,” he said.
He felt the list was reinforcement of St. Albert’s status and believes it will help attract business and residents.
“I think the story needs to be continually told that St. Albert is a good place to be,” he said.
Money Sense, Canada’s Best Places to Live
2. Victoria. B.C.
3. Burlington, Ont.
4. Kingston, Ont.
5. St. Albert, Alta.
6. Fredericton, N.B.
7. Brandon, Man.
8. Edmonton, Alta.
9. Repentigny, Que.
10. Winnipeg, Man.