B.C. hotels might rock, but Ontario's a much better place to live, study says
Recently I wrote about how the latest TripAdvisor traveller ratings had given British Columbia hotels and resorts 15 of the top 25 spots for all of Canada. It was a humbling day for the Ontario hotel industry, for sure, as only four Ontario places made the TripAdvisor top 25.
But Upper Canada can kick-start its strut today, as a new list by moneysense.ca has put the boots to B.C. The list, a comprehensive study that took into account everything from housing prices to crime to the ability to walk or bike to work, put three Ontario cities at the top of the charts as best places to live: Ottawa, Burlington and Kingston. Next were Halifax and Regina, followed by Brandon, Manitoba, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Edmonton, Red Deer, Alberta and Winnipeg.
If you scan the list, you'll find eight of the top 22 are Ontario cities: the top three already mentioned, and then Newmarket (13), Whitby (16), Oakville (17), Clarington (20) and Oshawa (22, notwithstanding Jann Arden). Alberta had six cities in the top 25. British Columbia? Only one in the top 25, that being Saanich at 15. Next best ,according to money sense? Victoria, way down at 35.
Of course, I don't really put a lot of stock in these things. You can find almost anything you want if you build your study the right way. Still, it seems like a fairly comprehensive study that DID take a lot of factors into account.
Ottawa came seventh in the culture category (tons of museums for sure) and 15th in the "new cars" category and 27th in "low crime." It didn't have incredible marks in any one category, but had solid numbers overall and came out on top. Burlington came second in the "weather" category (especially this year) and third in "low crime," although it was way down at 136 in terms of affordable housing.
Toronto, you ask? Ahem. Not so hot. 47th overall, one notch behind Thunder Bay and one ahead of Aurora. Why? Well, the Big Smoke was ranked 60th in terms of walking/biking to work, 178th (out of 190) in affordable housing, 48th in household income, 28th in discretionary income, 31st in new cars, 71st in population growth, 61st in low crime, 110th in doctors per 100,000 population, 25th in weather (must be the smog that did us in), 156th in jobless rate and sixth in culture.
I'm sorry, but that's nuts. Sixth? All the headlines from out west of late have been the demise of Vancouver's culture, but here they are ranked number one, followed by, wait for it, NORTH VANCOUVER and Victoria.
B.C. owns the top three culture spots in Canada? I don't think so. Great cities, sure. Maybe top 10. But not ahead of Toronto in terms of culture, folks. Get real. And what was fourth? Canmore, Alberta. You know, the home of CIFF - the Canmore International Film Festival. The city where all the big plays go after leaving London and New York.
Don't get me wrong, Canmore is spectactularly beautiful. And there IS a fair bit of culture. But who could honestly say the city ranks ahead of Toronto on that front?
OKAY - WHAT ARE THE WORST TEN IN CANADA?
Yeah, I guess we all like to know who's rated the worst, right? According to money sense, here are the least attractive places to live in Canada:
181. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
182. Squamish, B.C.
183. Bay Roberts, Newfoundland/Labrador
184. Campbell River, B.C.
185. Thetford MInes, Quebec
186. Port Alberni, B.C.
187. Truro, Nova Scotia
188. Kawartha Lakes, Ont.
189. Williams Lake, B.C.
190. New Glasgow, Nova Scotia (see photo, which looks pretty good to me)
Why did New Glasgow come in so low? Well, it was ranked 135th in walking/biking to work, 172nd in household income, 176th in discretionary income, 164th in population growth, 150th in low crime, 162nd in weather and 182nd in jobless rate. Wow. Even crazier is that it finished at the bottom of the heap overall despite being ranked 28th in terms of affordable housing.
Cape Breton, on the other hand (a truly lovely, wonderful place to visit), came in 181st overall despite a number one ranking in affordable housing. The bad news is that moneysense doesn't think you want to live there. The good news is it's cheap!
I'm a touch baffled by Kawartha Lakes being ranked 188, to be honest. I don't know the area well but it's always struck me as a pretty and restful part of the province. They came out 77th in weather, but that was their best ranking in the moneysense study. They were down at 163rd for jobless rate and 164th for population growth.
Again, not sure what any of this means. But it's good water-cooler conversation...
WEST JET CANADA SALE - CHECK THE WIDE VARATIONS!!
WestJet sent me an email yesterday to announce a Canada seat sale. It's decent, although hardly revolutionary in terms of pricing.
Just for fun (or something), I went online and looked at a Toronto to Vancouver flight (I want some culture in my life) for April 14, returning April 21. I found an outgoing flight on the 14th for $269 if I wanted to leave at 7 a.m. If I wanted to depart at 1 p.m., however, the price was $409. If I was willing to delay my flight out until 9:15 p.m., however, it was just $189. That's a whopping $220 less than the 1 p.m. flight.
Coming back, there was an overnight flight priced at $189 and then a slew of others that costed out from $269 to $299. Not quite the same variation.
But it does show that, when it comes to buying airline tickets, timing can be hugely important. Travel experts often suggest booking tickets mid-week to save money, for example. And it ALWAYS pays to keep close tabs on your favourite destinations with special website airfare alerts. Or just check a couple sites each day on your lunch break or at home. You never know when a great deal will pop up...