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Vancouver Island’s Port Alberni named worst city to live in Canada

Port Alberni may have been named the worst city to live in Canada by a major magazine, but the town’s mayor insists it’s no longer the smelly, one-mill town it used to be.

The 17,700-person city came in dead last in MoneySense’s 2014 rankings of Canadian cities.

“Port Alberni is a gorgeous place, and there’s certainly a lot of advantages to living there, like community spirit and abundant nature,” said deputy editor Sarah Efron. “But we measure hard numbers like economic data and crime rates.”
In that regard, Port Alberni doesn’t fare too well. The unemployment rate is above 10 per cent, household incomes are low and the crime rate is high. The city also ranked near the bottom in terms of the availability of doctors, Efron said.

Efron did note the city scored well in terms of the number of residents working in arts, culture or recreation, another metric used by the magazine.

Port Alberni Mayor John Douglas defended his city, and called the data used by MoneySense “out of date.”

“The ironic thing is that I’ve been too busy to answer some of the media questions about this because we have so many investors coming to town wanting to open new businesses,” he said.

While Port Alberni was once known for the characteristic odor wafting from the nearby pulp and paper mill, Douglas said times have changed.

“Port Alberni is probably the best place to live,” he said. “We’re not a one-industry town anymore. We’re really diversifying the economy and we’ve turned a corner.”

Alberta’s St. Albert — population 64,000 — topped the list this year, capping a trend that saw larger cities fall in the rankings.

“Satellite communities around major centres are evolving to deliver small-town flare with big-city conveniences. In that way, many of these communities aren’t just great places to live: they’re Canada’s best-kept secrets,” MoneySense wrote.

Saanich was the highest-ranking city on Vancouver Island, coming in at number 14. Victoria and Nanaimo were ranked 76th and 126th, respectively.


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