Lethbridge may now be the third largest city in Alberta, but according to Canada’s Best Communities list, Red Deer offers better quality of life.
Red Deer is somewhat in the middle of the pack, ranked at 271 best place to live in Canada, according to a new list by Maclean’s magazine, which compared 415 communities coast-to-coast.
In Alberta, St. Albert topped the list sitting at number 23, followed by Canmore in the 28th spot, Calgary in the 33rd and Edmonton at 79th place.
Lacombe is ahead of Red Deer sitting at number 204, followed by Okotoks at 205 and High River at 206.
Red Deer County took the 306th spot, followed by Medicine Hat at 310, Sylvan Lake in 315 and Lethbridge at 316.
Maclean’s ranked the 415 communities based on wealth and economy, affordability, demographics, taxes, commute, crime, weather, health, amenities and culture and community.
Maclean’s also provided three top features for each community. Red Deer’s top feature is commute, with affordability and taxes as second and third feature respectively.
Lethbridge’s top three features are amenities, demographics and commute.
Community advocate for Red Deer, Lyn Radford, says in everything is 10 minutes away in the city, so commute being the top feature does not surprise her.
“So the commute, taxes and affordability, and all of those things are really important, but a bit concerned that we didn’t rank a bit higher,” said Radford.
“I think, in overall across Canada, we really should be placing in the top 100 to 150, I think we have the opportunity to do that when you’re talking about across Canada,” said Radford, pointing to various things Red Deer offers such as opportunities for sport and recreation and park and recreation.
She said it’s unfair to compare Red Deer to Calgary and Edmonton, because Red Deer is a midsize city.
“I always like to have a friendly wager with Lethbridge, I always like a healthy, fun competition. But as Albertans we need to all grow together.”
The Maclean’s best communities listing gives readers to change the variables or “weightings” to come up with a personalized ranking. When the crime variable was set to most important on their website, and the rest of the variables remain the same, Red Deer takes 395th spot out of 415 communities across Canada.
Radford said given the geographic location of the city, sandwiched between two urban centres of the province, crime is something Red Deer will have to work on to improve quality of life.
She pointed the bulk of the province’s population is about two hours from Red Deer and that means we will always deal with crime.
As for improving life overall in Red Deer, the city resident noted there is work to be done economically and socially.
“Our municipal government is working on it, we’re going to need to get our unemployment rate down so people are able to spend dollars again in the community, that’s number one. We also have to work hard to balance the social piece of our community with the homeless situation and increase diversity,” she explained.
“Both of those things are important because we need to make sure we’re looking at all the citizens of Red Deer, not just select few.”