I love lists. Most of us do. It’s a psychological thing. Lists give us easy-to-digest tidbits of information that we’re anxious to make sure we don’t miss out on. We love to guess what’s on a list and be vindicated when it matches our expectations of what should be on the list. And a list gives us a sense of security about a topic. Someone has researched and considered and created a path for us all to follow.
A popular Canadian list each year is published by MoneySense, a personal finance website written by the folks behind Macleans magazine. Their ‘where to live in Canada’ lists are segmented by region and by lifestyle, so you can easily let someone else tell you the best place to retire or raise a family.
Moncton again tops the list of places to spend your golden years in Atlantic Canada (and places 13th overall in the country), and despite the seemingly-low national ranking numbers, the tri-communities of Moncton, Riverview, and Dieppe actually score fairly well on the list of places to live while raising children, and all three land in the Top 10 for Atlantic Canadian communities overall.
Looking at the factors used by the list gives us a starting point for considering how we want our communities to evolve as Canada enters this next stage of growth. We’ve spent a lot of time the past few months focusing on the first 150 years as a country, but now it’s time to switch that focus to how we continue to improve for the next 150.
We’re doing well when we look at how MoneySense determines the best retirement community, and I see a lot of potential for us to continue improving on two main aspects: a thriving arts scene and a strong sense of community. The expansion this year of Festival Inspire to Petitcodiac, the increase in youth and community involvement in large scale productions at The Capitol Theatre, and the move of the Evolve festival to our community all promise continued growth for our arts, while the ties created by #BeccaToldMeTo, #MonctonStrong, and grassroots movements like The Humanity Project and What Kids Need Moncton show the core values of people who live here.
In terms of retaining and attracting families, the top communities enjoy low unemployment rates, high household incomes, and include a significant population of households with children. Focusing on improved childcare accessibility and affordability can help boost unemployment and income rates, so let’s continue to push our governments at all levels to offer more creative programming for families. Job creation is important, but so is creating communities that attract families as well as businesses.
The top community on the Moneysense list offers free summer camps for all children; we should be able to build on programs like the YMCA’s Mobile Fun and P.R.O. Kids to create free programming for all youth in our area, while simultaneously employing young adults and helping them hone leadership skills and create deeper connections here at home. I’ll happily support any politician who starts putting these priorities front and centre.
Our tax rates hurt us in terms of national rankings, but I think we have some made-in-New Brunswick answers to being much smarter with the money we do have. Take a look at the work Erin Flood and her contemporaries are doing with initiatives like The Go Do Project; just like releasing the statistics on physician payments can help highlight inconsistencies in access to care, looking at data on how people move within our communities can inform smarter decisions about public and private transportation – and maybe put Moncton’s parking debate to rest once and for all.
She Said appears Saturday in the Times & Transcript.