Squamish ranked a dismal 161st out of the 180 Canadian communities of 10,000 or more on Money Sense magazine’s “Best Places to Live” list for 2011. That was down three spots from the 2010 list, according to Richard Tripp, who posted the list on Squamish Speaks this week. Thanks for that, by the way.
These sorts of rankings, while useful, can vary widely depending on what’s being ranked and the methodology used. The Money Sense rankings, for instance, rank communities on the basis of weather, affordable housing, household income, discretionary income, new cars on the road, job prospects, population growth, access to health care, crime rates and the ability of residents to walk or bike to work. Our community rated lowest for affordable housing (169th), new cars on the road (152nd), and weather (149th), and job prospects (146th), and highest for population growth (34th), and household income (39th).
What’s clear to us with this list is that while financial factors are important to the editors of Money Sense, those related to access to nature and the outdoors are unimportant — they don’t even merit a category, in fact. It’s also obvious that the methodology for weather — which counted for the largest single point total used to determine the rankings — is extremely subjective. Communities received six points each for amount of precipitation, number of wet days and days below 0 degrees C. As a result, Winnipeg ranked 35th on the “weather” scale to Squamish’s 149th.
Huh? If Squamoleans’ reaction to this week’s weather is any indication, most of us will take our usual wet — and green — over weather that’s typical of Winnipeg in November any day of the week.
The list, of course, is also instructive — just as was the “Vital Signs” report released by the Squamish Community Foundation last October. We definitely need to work on affordable housing and “job prospects” — i.e. economic development. The methodology for the “new cars on the road” category, though, merits a bit of scrutiny. Money Sense states that the 2011 rankings rated communities with more 2008-’10-model vehicles on the road higher. We suppose that’s a measure of relative affluence, but aren’t sure why it merits a category of its own.
Squamish ranked 131st on the Money Sense list for crime rates — lower ones being better, of course. At the release event for the Vital Signs report, it was stated that while our per-capita rates of both property and violent crime were still much higher than the national and provincial averages, they’ve been steadily declining since local data was first compiled in 1998. We clearly still have work to do there.
Now, about that weather: Can we please get back to something more closely resembling normal for January? Any more of this and our vaunted trail system will be rendered impassable, and people don’t abbreviate the town’s name to Squish for nothing.
— David Burke