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Salmon Arm moves up in best-place ranking

With urban living still tied to its rural roots, Salmon Arm was the fifth best place to live in the province according to MoneySense Magazine.   - Observer file photo
With urban living still tied to its rural roots, Salmon Arm was the fifth best place to live in the province according to MoneySense Magazine.
— image credit: Observer file photo

How’s the weather in Salmon Arm?

Pretty good according to MoneySense Magazine, which ranked the city 61st out of 190 in its annual list of best places to live in Canada.

The 2012 ranking is an improvement over last year when Salmon Arm came in at 78. In fact, the trend over the past few years has been one of improvement for  Salmon Arm, which was the fifth highest-ranked city in B.C., behind Saanich, Victoria, Kamloops and Vancouver.

The rankings are based on a number of variables, including the ability to walk or bike to work, crime rate and culture. Salmon Arm’s strong points were under the categories of weather, and the number of doctors available per 1,000 people, which came in at 13 and 15 out of 190.

Where Salmon Arm didn’t fare as well is under the categories of household income (152), crime (142) and affordable housing, which didn’t budge from last year’s ranking of 164.

MoneySense also compiled a number of sublists, including the best places to retire, raise kids and find a job.

For retirees, Salmon Arm is apparently the cat’s pyjamas. The city came in at 13, thanks in part to relatively low taxes, the climate and a low crime rate relating to seniors. However, when it comes to raising kids or finding employment, the picture isn’t quite as rosy.

Salmon Arm ranked 111 on both, with housing prices (149), household income (152), crime and transit (155) being key areas where there is still much room for improvement.

None of these results come as a surprise to Salmon Arm Economic Development Society economic development manager Lana Fitt, who says the stats reflect what she’s seeing in Salmon Arm. She says that overall, MoneySense’s evaluation shows that Salmon Arm appeals to “a wide-array of people, including everything from retirees to new businesses as well.”

“Items such as affordable housing for example, that definitely is not our strength for attraction initiatives, but items that relate more to quality of life like our climate and our local services, education… we definitely have a competitive advantage there,” says Fitt.

In response to Salmon Arm’s popularity among retirees, Fitt says the EDS has to stay focused on appealing to, and retaining a broad range of people and businesses.

“We’re pretty focused on youth retention and attracting professionals and new businesses to the community,” says Fitt. “In order to be successful in doing that we need an active labour pool to draw from as well.

“So, for as much as we recognize the value that the retirement demographic brings to the economy, we also want to be very broad in our marketing and attraction initiatives to focus on young families and attracting professionals.”

Salmon Arm’s 111th place ranking for best place to raise children struck a chord for the city’s mayor, Nancy Cooper.

“That’s one I’d like to see how we can change…,” says Cooper, adding this is something she would like to work on with Fitt and the EDS. “What do we need for that, because that’s where I would like to see us going.”

Regarding affordable housing, Cooper says she would be interested in getting feedback from the city’s social issues committee on perhaps creating a policy. Job-wise, Cooper says the EDS is currently working on a strategy for the industrial park, meeting with business owners and discussing ways to attract more business.

As for transit, the mayor says she’s purchased a bus pass, and plans on riding the bus herself to get a feel for how the system is serving Salmon Arm residents.

Like Fitt, however, Cooper is pleased with the snapshot of Salmon Arm that MoneySense results provide, and how the well the community ranks in the province, let alone the country.

“I think we have some things that we can certainly build on… but I’m quite excited about it, actually, when you consider how we’re ranked in B.C.,” says Cooper. “That is pretty good. And I think it gives us some information on what are we doing well, and what could we improve on.”

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