Ranked 78th and proud

It may not exactly be a news flash, our fair city is indeed among the fairest of them all — at least when it comes to our weather.

According to MoneySense magazine’s survey of Canada’s best places to live, Salmon Arm ranks tenth best for weather, combining warm temperatures with adequate amounts of precipitation. Our weather is, according to the rankings, our most desirable quality.

The 10th place ranking for weather was the highest number Salmon Arm posted, with our community coming in a respectable number 78 overall out of the 180 communities surveyed. This was up from 80th place in 2010.

(Vernon ranked 49th, Kamloops was 106th, and Kelowna placed at 121. Victoria was the highest-ranked place to live in B.C. at number two. Ottawa ranked number one overall.)

In previous years, Salmon Arm had been left out of the survey altogether, even though it supposedly qualified with a population of 10,000 or greater. I was gratified to see Salmon Arm included, after making my complaint to the magazine’s editor a few years ago. But now we’re in, and the survey, while having its detractors, does paint an interesting statistical picture of our community.

Salmon Arm’s second-highest ranking was 17th for access to health care, which looked at the general practice and specialist physicians per community and also took into consideration the percentage of people in the city employed in health occupations. We also scored 31st place for the number of people who walk or bike to work according to a Statistics Canada report— which surprised me given our hilly terrain and icy winters.

But it was not all roses for our city. One of our weakest areas was in affordable housing, where we ranked 164th out of 180. As most of us know, housing prices, even in a recession, have not dropped significantly, especially when combined with a relatively low average household income, which placed us at 124th.

And either Salmon Arm residents are a modest bunch, or else we simply don’t have the cash to fork out for new vehicles. In terms of new cars on the road (vehicle models from 2008-2010 qualify), we earned our lowest ranking of all, 171 out of the 180 communities. According to the magazine, this is a worthy indicator because of what it says about discretionary income — people won’t justify a new vehicle if they aren’t feeling flush or secure in their ability to pay.

The biggest criticism of the magazine’s efforts is that it doesn’t take intangibles into account. Take Shuswap Lake for example. Understandably, it is impossible to quantify the enjoyment or enhancement that the lake brings to our lives, therefore the magazine cannot gather any data on it.

But I don’t think anyone living in the Shuswap could deny the allure of the lake, the recreational opportunities afforded by the lake and mountains, the beauty of the region or the joy it can add to our lives.

I’m quite content with living in the 78th best place, thanks.

– Tracy Hughes is the editor of the Salmon Arm Observer