Ottawa the best place to live in Canada, magazine decides
Published Thursday, April 29, 2010 9:13PM EDT
Ottawa's great economy, low crime rate and steady population growth put the city back on top as the best place to live in Canada, according to rankings released Thursday by MoneySense magazine.
Ottawa took the ranking's top honours in 2008 and 2007, but lost the spot to Victoria last year. But with Victoria growing too expensive for the average Canadian and Ottawa standing strong in job opportunities and more, the nation's capital pushed its way back to the top.
MoneySense evaluated 179 Canadian cities and towns with populations over 50,000 using different criteria than tourists might choose. Whereas visitors might seek out the most beautiful towns, this ranking looked at a city's "livability", such as its cultural offerings, its schools and its year-round weather, explained MoneySense editor Duncan Hood.
"We care about: how much money can you make? What kind of job can you get? How much does it cost to buy a house? How many doctors are available? What kind of infrastructure is there? How much pollution is there? All the things that affect your day-to-day standard of living if you live there 365 days a year," Hood told CTV's Canada AM Thursday morning.
This year, the Top 10 broke down like this:
- Kingston, Ont.
- Burlington, Ont.
- Fredericton, N.B.
- Moncton, N.B.
- Repentigny, Que.
- Brandon, Man.
- Victoria, B.C.
- Winnipeg, Man.
- Levis, Que.
Hood says Ottawa stands tall at the top of the list because of the way it can weather economic storms.
"Ottawa won for a few reasons, but mainly because it was the most recession-resistant city in Canada. It's full of public service workers. They didn't lose their jobs this year and they didn't have pay cuts. So while many other cities saw their standard of living drop a little bit when the recession hit, Ottawa didn't," Hood explained.
Max Keeping, former CTV Ottawa news anchor and Ottawa community ambassador, is not surprised that the city he calls home made the top of the rankings.
"We have the highest share of commuters who take public transit, cycle or walk to work, instead of drive of any major Canadian city," he noted as an example of what makes Ottawa great.
"We volunteer more hours per capita than any other Canadian city," he added. "We care about our city, we care about the place it is and we really want it to be home to every Canadian."
Canada's biggest cities, such as Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver were notably absent from the list. In most cases, they fit the old saw of "nice places to visit but you wouldn't want to live there," because of soaring housing costs and high crime.
Vancouver plummeted in the rankings as it is the absolute most unaffordable city in Canada. The average home in the picturesque city tops $762,000 -- almost 10 times the average income.
Victoria too, which was last year's winner, slipped all the way down to No. 8 this year, largely because it is no longer affordable for average Canadians to buy homes there. Portage la Prairie, on the other hand, ranked high because it offers homes for almost any budget.
A few new cities found their way onto the list this year because of changes to the rankings. Repentigny, Que. for example, was formerly lumped in with Montreal, but the magazine decided this year to separate out suburbs with 50,000+ people, which helped Repentigny make the top 10.
Other cities didn't make the top 10, which was compiled throughout most of 2009, because they were struggling with the effects of the recession. Cities dependent on manufacturing and single resources really suffered. But cities that rely more on government, universities and other and other somewhat recession-proof institutions did better.
The Best Places to Live in Canada issue of MoneySense begins hitting newsstands today.