This year’s Best Places to Live measures 179 cities, up from 154 last year. To come up with the ranking, we gathered information on Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomeration areas that had a population of 10,000 or greater (and for which the required data was available). We then broke up the CMAs of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City, Hamilton, Oshawa and Kitchener into their component cities of 50,000 or more in population.
We then ranked each community by the following categories. The categories were scored out of a given number of points. The higher the potential points, the more weight that category had in our final ranking.
WALK/BIKE TO WORK – 7 Points – Data taken from 2006 Statistics Canada reports.
WEATHER -18 Points (6 for each of amount of precipitation, number of wet days, days below 0). Ideal volume of precipitation was considered to by 700 ml per year – Source: Environment Canada
AIR QUALITY – 2 Points – One point for parts per million of ozone and one point for levels of suspended fine particulate matter, both of which are major components of smog. Data was from monitoring stations in or nearest to each city and reported by the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network.
POPULATION GROWTH – 10 Points – 2006 figures from Stats Canada. Results are based on the average Canadian growth from 01-06 of 5.4% plus 2% as an ideal rate. Higher created problems, lower meant less opportunities. Cities with negative growth received 0 points.
UNEMPLOYMENT – 10 Points – 2009 data from Statistics Canada when provided and 2010 estimates derived from Canadian Demographics.
HOUSING – 15 Points (7.5 for average house prices & 7.5 for time to buy a house) House average prices from reports and listings by MLS, Toronto, Fraser Valley, Vancouver and Quebec Real Estate Boards. Time to buy was derived from average price divided by average 2010 estimated household income sourced from Canadian Demographics.
HOUSEHOLD INCOME – 4 Points – 2010 estimates as per Canadian Demographics
DISCRETIONARY INCOME – 4 Points – Discretionary household income as a percentage of total household income derived from 2010 estimates as per Canadian Demographics. Taking a percentage adjusts for higher cost of living and tax factors.
NEW CARS – 4 Points – 2007-2009 model year vehicles as a percent of total vehicles as per Canadian Demographics
INCOME TAXES – 2 Points – Cities ranked according to the rate of combined federal and provincial (or territorial) income tax paid on an income of $50,000 as per Ernst & Young.
SALES TAXES – 1 Point – Cities ranked according to the rate of provincial or territorial sales tax as per www.taxtips.ca
CRIME – 5 points – Violent crime rates (2 points), total crime rates (2 points) per 100,000 people and crime severity rates (1 point) for 2008 from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
DOCTORS – 6 Points – General practice and specialist physicians per community provided by the Canadian Medical Association and converted to doctors per 1,000 people.
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS – 4 Points – Percentage of people in each city who are employed in health occupations according to the 2006 census.
TRANSIT – 5 points – Based on the percentage of the workforce utilizing public transit according the 2006 census
AMMENITIES – 3 points – One point each for a hospital, university and college. A city’s university or college had to have an enrollment of at least 1,000 students to be included. Cities in a CMA area received credit if a particular institution was located anywhere in the CMA.
CULTURE – Bonus points. A city could receive up to 5 points based on the percentage of people employed in arts, culture, recreation and sports.