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Squamish dismally rated in 'Best Places to Live' list

People may be willing to fork out top dollar for a home in Squamish, but not everyone views it as the ideal place to settle down.

People may be willing to fork out top dollar for a home in Squamish, but not everyone views it as the ideal place to settle down. In the May issue of MoneySense magazine, Squamish ranked a lowly 132nd in a Canada's Best Places to Live list, which looked at 154 communities with a population of more than 10,000 across Canada. Ottawa topped the list with Victoria in second place.The weighting system used to create the list was heavy on numbers and sparse on subjective factors such as scenery, culture and sense of community. Skyrocketing housing prices, rainy weather, and a shortage of doctors were a few of the weak points that sunk Squamish's ranking.While the magazine touts the list as "the fairest, most unbiased guide you can find to Canadian communities," some might argue it favours larger cities with points in place for major sports teams, but nothing to acknowledge outdoor recreation opportunities. Squamish was also categorized as not having a university because its small student base does not generate the same economic spin-off as larger universities in Canada. The stories' co-author, Ian McGugan, said some features, such as an extensive trail network, didn't end up in the criteria because they are difficult to uniformly assess."What we're trying to do is measure the things that we can measure," he said. "Everyone can agree that more income is better than less income. Everyone can agree that less crime is better than more crime."Since the list is aimed at residents rather than tourists, its top 10 picks include some rarely-celebrated communities such as Moncton, N.B. and Burlington, Ont."What we're trying to do is point out the factors that do make a town worthwhile to live in, but people often fail to recognize if they're simply passing through," McGugan said.Mayor Ian Sutherland was not fazed by Squamish's poor standing on the list. "To me this is interesting reading, but obviously the person who wrote this article has not been to Squamish," he said.For example, the list showed that Squamish has no sports. Sutherland pointed out that Squamish hosts the Test of Metal, one of the biggest biking races in Canada. McGugan said the category only considers major sports teams because of the windfall these teams produce for local restaurants and businesses."We're not really trying to gauge the activity level of the citizens so much as the economic benefit from [sports]."The newly-designated Capilano University may have missed the mark for the article's deadline, but Sutherland said it also made no sense not to acknowledge Quest University. However, he agreed housing prices are high in town."I think all of B.C. has that same challenge right now. That will change over time but certainly we've gone through a couple years of price appreciation."The poorest rated community in the survey was Port Alberni.

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