We’re Number One!

Earlier this week, MoneySense Magazine published its annual list of the best places to live in Canada. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ottawa finished in first place, ahead of usual suspects Victoria and Vancouver. The top 10 looks like this:

1. Ottawa
2. Victoria
3. Fredericton
4. Kingston
5. Levis
6. Moncton
7. Winnipeg
8. Burlington
9. Halifax
10. Vancouver

Of course, these lists are always subject to a fair amount of criticism, especially if you happen to live in one of the cities that didn’t fair too well (hello Port Alberni at no. 154). As might be expected, MoneySense placed a lot of emphasis on financial considerations, such as average household income, average housing prices, and disposable income. They also considered other factors, such as weather, crime rate, and the availability of doctors.

What’s missing from the list of criteria are the intangibles, those elements that make a city great that can’t be quantified. The natural surroundings, architecture, city planning, and cultural community weren’t really factored into these rankings in any meaningful way, yet most people would probably consider these to be more important than the number of new cars on the road.

In any case, Ottawa won this particular competition, and we did so in a typically Ottawa fashion. We didn’t finish first in any category – in fact, our highest rank was 19. However, we were above average in almost every category, and that was enough for us to crush Victoria.

“It was to some degree a triumph of mediocrity, but it was consistent mediocrity”, said the editor of the magazine. Perhaps “Ottawa: Consistently Mediocre” could replace the previous city motto of “Ottawa: Technically Beautiful”. (I’m not making that up – that’s the motto the city came up with in 2001 after spending $200,000 on research).

Here are a few other notable cities:

16. Waterloo
35. Calgary
50. Kitchener
51. Toronto
58. Thunder Bay (my birthplace)
73. Cambridge (my hometown)
82. Montreal (?)
86. Hamilton

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