Prince Albert rises in annual ranking of cities

Prince Albert has more to offer potential residents than last year and remains one of the top Canadian cities for access to medical care, the latest rankings from MoneySense magazine show.

Each year the publication ranks Canada’s municipalities by a number of criteria, including crime rate, employment, wealth, weather, amenities and health care to rank places to live from best to worst.

Cities are defined by examining the largest of Statistics Canada’s census subdivisions.

Prince Albert was ranked 294 out of 415 municipalities, above its 328th placement from last year. The city also ranked in the top 25 per cent of all municipalities for health, which is calculated by looking at the number of doctors’ offices and the number of family doctors per 100,000 population, along with wait times, specialists and having a hospital nearby.

The city was ranked 27th overall for access to health care.

The 2017 statistics, used in the 2018 ranking, show a decrease in the year-over-year unemployment rate and an increase in average household net worth. Property taxes went up and the violent crime severity index fell.

The rankings are weighted, with economy and affordability providing the most points, followed by health, weather and commute. Culture and amenities receive the lowest weighting. As the weighting is tweaked each year, results aren’t directly comparable to the prior year’s ranking, MoneySense wrote.

Mayor Greg Dionne said the improved ranking indicates that Prince Albert is a good place to live.

“It’s a positive thing. I just came back from Saskatoon and Regina and in both cities, they brought up how that they heard how great and hospitable we were for the World Softball Championships, and how successful that was,” he said.

“The key is to get a lot of these rankings to make sure you put your positive foot forward. We have problems, like any other city, but we have lots of positives for us.”

Dionne pointed to amenities such as the Rawlinson Centre, Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse and Art Hauser Centre as some of the amenities the city offers. He also said the ranking of the top 25 per cent for health care shows the city is becoming what he envisions as a health, education and service centre for the north.

Ranking in the top 25 per cent for doctors per capita, “is one of the reasons we’re dictating about a new hospital, a new northern hospital. The government is right that they should build the new regional hospital here,” Dionne said.

“It backs up my missing. I’m going to work on seeing us as the education, health and service centre in northern Saskatchewan. We’re soon to have a new university campus, that report said that (focus) is working.”

Dionne said that it’s important to focus on those positives and not on the challenges the city can face.

“Sometimes the most negative comments come from within,” he said

“That’s why I say to people it’s important that we put our best foot forward. We have problems, we’re not going to deny that, but all cities do. We should talk positively about our community.”

Weyburn was the only Saskatchewan community to rank in the top 50, falling 28 spots to 33rd overall. Saskatoon, Estevan, Regina, Moose Jaw, Lloydminster and Swift Current all finished ahead of Prince Albert, while North Battleford and Yorkton ranked behind. Saskatoon, Lloydminster and Prince Albert were the only Saskatchewan communities that saw their rankings increase in 2018.

Oakville, Ont., a Toronto suburb, was chosen as the best place to live in 2018, with top 25 per cent scores in wealth, demographics, crime, health and amenities, and a top ten finish in weather.

Ottawa, which has been deemed top city overall in each of the survey’s prior years, fell to second. The top ten included five Ontario communities, three Quebec cities and two Alberta municipalities.

Colchester subdivision finished last in the annual rankings.

MoneySense also released other rankings, including the best places for retirement, for families and for new Canadians.

Regina and Saskatoon were the only Saskatchewan cities to finish in the top 100 list of places to retire, with Saskatoon coming in 76th and Regina 92nd. Ottawa was ranked the best place to retire.

Weyburn was the top Saskatchewan city for families, coming in 40th overall on that ranking. It was the only Sask. city to make the family ranking.

Saskatoon and Regina were the only cities to be ranked for new Canadians, with Saskatoon coming in at 45 and Regina at 75.

Saskatchewan cities came in the top 100 for a few other lists:

Affordable housing: Weyburn (15), Saskatoon (28), Estevan (48) and Regina (51)

Top weather on the prairies: Moose Jaw (4) and Estevan (8)

Fastest Growing: Lloydminster (17), Saskatoon (38) and Regina (53)

Richest: Weyburn (74)

Best access to health care: Prince Albert (27) and Saskatoon (96)

No Saskatchewan municipalities appeared in the top 100 Canadian cities with the lowest taxes.