Victoria has been ranked the best small city in Canada by a multinational advisory company that specializes in tourism, real estate and economic development.
For the purposes of the rankings, Resonance Consultancy defined a small city as one that had a metropolitan population of less than 200,000.
The capital was revered for its mild temperatures and diverse geography which allows its residents to “surf, mountain bike, and put in eight hours at the office all in one day.”
The scoring was based on 32 factors, placed into one of six core categories — place, product, programming, people, prosperity and promotion.
“Place” evaluated the city’s physical characteristics including weather, traffic, and air quality; “product” looked at institutions and infrastructure such as bike paths and education systems; “programming” surveyed entertainment and dining across a variety of target markets; “people” accounted for the population and demographics taking note of factors such as diversity and educational attainment; “prosperity” considered household income levels and inequality, employment statistics, and poverty rates; lastly, “promotion” was based on how people engaged with the city on the internet.
Victoria ranked first in the “programming” category and second in the “place” category, acknowledging its range of activities as well as its unique geography.
The pandemic lent itself to Victoria’s advantage, as many of the city’s strongest features became even more important to its residents when pandemic restrictions were put in place.
The rankings described Victoria as “seemingly engineered for the post-pandemic, seize-the-day, work-from-home lifestyle.”
For all of its strengths, Victoria was recognized as having a high cost of living and it was highlighted that the population skews older than other cities.
Victoria wasn’t the only Vancouver Island city to make the list of 25. Nanaimo came in at No. 20 and Saanich No. 23.
Saanich scored just below Victoria for the number of residents who bike to work while ranking fifth for self-employed residents and 21st for shopping. The University of Victoria and two Camosun College campuses helped Saanich finish eighth in education attainment and 11th for employment in educational pursuits.
“The area just north of downtown Victoria is quickly being built out as a secondary urban core for locals — accessed more easily and without the tourist traffic. It is just part of Saanich’s record capital construction for active transportation projects in 2022,” according to the report.
The rankings say Nanaimo has put in the work with zoning for giant retail outlets, ferries docking right in town and affordable house prices, while leaving the spotlight to B.C.’s capital in the south.
“But a funny thing happened on the way to under-the-radar livability: Nanaimo became a coveted hometown. It’s long had fresh air and wilderness, with the best air quality among Canada’s small cities (tied with North Vancouver), and top five for Parks & Outdoors, with massive city green spaces like the 90-acre Bowen Park right downtown and mystical mountain lakes a short drive, bike or transit ride away.”
Nanaimo took top spot in the vital place category and ranked 13th in population growth.
Kelowna, meanwhile, finished second in the national ranking and was celebrated for its opportunities, shopping and affordability.
“People are coming to a hometown knowing that they won’t just be able to buy anything they need, they’ll also have plenty of new finds to explore,” read Kelowna’s ranking.
Unlike Victoria, Kelowna did not finish first in any of the core categories (or any of the subcategories for that matter), however, its consistency across multiple subcategories is where Kelowna got its strength.
The city finished second in the core category of programming, second in the subcategories of self-employment and shopping, fourth in nightlife, and fifth in growth rate.
According to the city, there are nearly 4,000 residential units that are either currently under construction or due to be built soon in the downtown core.
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