City of Vernon falters in Best Places to Live list

Officials aren’t losing sleep over a survey that places Vernon mid-of-the-pack for liveability.

Out of 201 communities, MoneySense magazine’s Best Places to Live ranking puts Vernon at 125.

“It’s an interesting analysis but I don’t put a lot of emphasis on it,” said Kevin Poole, economic development manager.

Among the factors considered by MoneySense are population growth, the unemployment rate, average income, house prices, property taxes, public transit use, total rainfall, days above 20 Celsius, the crime rate and the number of doctors.

“How they select the items for quality of life is beyond me. They don’t ask how many lakes are nearby or how close a community is to a ski hill,” said Poole.

The survey indicates that Vernon’s unemployment rate is 9.2 per cent, but Poole says that if the figure comes from Statistics Canada, it is not accurate.

“The sample size is too small and Stats Canada says not all of the sample is in Vernon. They could throw in Clearwater or Osoyoos or anything in the Thompson-Okanagan,” said Poole, adding that the local economy is improving.

“The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is cautiously optimistic and sees things picking up in 2014 and 2015. Building permits are up.”

Most of the communities at the top of the survey are those influenced by the oil and gas sector, including St. Albert (1), Calgary (2) and Strathcona, Alta. (3).

“They are putting a lot of weight on the average income. If that’s how you establish quality of life, we’ll never compete,” said Poole.

The average household income in Vernon, according to MoneySense, is $70,229, while it is $128,270 in St. Albert.

Poole points out that new workers have relocated to Vernon from Alberta and the Lower Mainland recently.

“They are moving here for the quality of life we have,” he said.

Poole isn’t concerned the MoneySense article will create a negative perception about Vernon.

“We try to get people here as tourists and then they often want to become a resident,” he said.


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