The City of Lacombe has been ranked the fifth best place to live in the country, and the best place in Alberta to live in, according to Canada’s leading personal finance magazine and website.
Money Sense released their annual rankings on Tuesday which list the best places to live based on statistics in 10 different categories, including affordability, wealth and the economy, taxes, population growth, crime, weather, commute as well as access to health care and amenities and culture.
Speaking to the Lacombe Globe Tuesday afternoon, City of Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said it was hard not to take notice of the ranking as he spent much of the day being congratulated.
“I hate to read too much into these statistical analysis type things, but I’m very pleased that the numbers worked out the way they did,” he said. “I certainly think we’re ranked appropriately, but it points to a positive outlook for central Alberta as a whole.”
Nearby, Camrose ranked 11th, followed by Red Deer at 12th. A year ago, Lacombe ranked 299th, and made one of the most significant jumps amongst the 415 cities surveyed.
Creasey said there was no single factor that led to the change, but rather “well balanced improvement across all the categories.”
While Lacombe prides itself on its cultural scene, where it edged out other municipalities was in the areas of affordable housing (Lacombe ranked third, followed immediately by Camrose and Red Deer), high wages and overall household income, and the economic region unemployment rate, which, as of March 2018, is 4.9 per cent.
Lacombe’s population growth was also a factor. In the last federal census, the city surpassed the 13,000 mark to sit at 13,906, indicating a 9.1 per cent increase from five years ago, which is attributed in part to the strong local economy.
While breaking into that top 25 ranking is something Creasey says everyone at City Hall is thrilled about, he said there’s work to be done moving forward to maintain it.
Lacombe has placed a focus on economic development, and its in that particular area he hopes to see improvement.
“The approach we’re taking is increasing our commercial base. The work we put out in our strategic plan clearly identifies the route senior administration and elected officials want to take,” he said. “I think that’s really going to bear fruit over the next few years.”
The strategic plan includes marketing the city as “being open for business,” and working on the west area development just off Hwy 12 and the QEII, as well as Lacombe Market Square on the east side of the city.
Another positive to come from the rankings, according to Creasey, however is the Crime Severity Index (CSI) portion. Lacombe has a CSI of 83 and Violent CSI of 57 and is one seven cities in the province to have its own municipal police force.
“It’s a real feather in the cap for local police force,” he said. “Obviously they’re doing a great job.”
Detailed statistics from the Money Sense rankings can be found online at www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/canadas-best-places-to-live-2018-winner.