Squamish Citizens Decry Money Sense rankings

Squamish (at night above) was voted as one of the worst places to live in Canada.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March. 31, 2012

At 182nd out of 190 cities in Canada, Squamish was recently ranked as one of the worst places to live in Canada by Money Sense magazine recently.

The rankings were widely reported in newspaper across Canada.

The survey is contradictory, illogical, and penalises us for exactly the kinds of things we are proud of, and doesn’t take into myriad other factors that make Squamish work, says Coun. Patricia Heintzman.

She picked apart the survey, saying it’s unfair to compare Squamish to big cities like Ottawa in the first place.
Squamish has been penalised for not buying enough new cars, a meaningless measure of how well a town is doing, she added.

“Have they done a survey on how many new bikes we buy every year? That might bring us more than a few notches up,” she said.

Coun. Ron Sander said the magazine’s ranking was “truly unfortunate” and a misguided opinion of our community.

“Proof of the great appeal of the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” is in the considerable growth in population even while our major employers have left the community,” he said.

Money Sense based their information on 2006 Statistics Canada date, and ranked the cities based on points.

A total of 105 points were up for grabs in seventeen categories, such as housing, crime, transit, culture, and unemployment.
The top city in each category received the maximum number of points, and the rest of the cities received descending incremental points based on their ranking.

Of all the communities ranked in the survey, Squamish ranked number one on air quality, 15 for culture, and 27 on household income.
But once the more important indicators start to come up, the downward slide begins.

Squamish ranked a lowly 146 on the employment scale, and it didn’t do too well on the weather either. It ranked a lowly 186 on the weather, surprisingly better on transit at 82, and a good 27 on the household income front.

Phil Froats, the man who crunches the data at Money Sense magazine’s office in Toronto, has a warning for those who demand more than the magazine has to offer.

Money Sense can’t measure the many important things like waterfronts, neighbours, and restaurants that make people feel good about living in their city, he says.

“A person in B.C. loves the sunsets over the ocean but someone in Nova Scotia loves the sunrises,” he says.

“These mean different things to different people, and can’t be compared city to city.”

Nate Dolha, a candidate in last year’s council elections, said Squamish has several problems that it must confront.

“We have an enormous commuter population (and growing), with no commuter services. The transit service we do have is laughable, and is ineffective in part due to poor urban planning – so we earned that rank,” he said.

“Our high unemployment rates are a direct result of no real economic development program, so we wear that one too.”

Squamish relator Nancy Hamilton, however, faulted the methodology used by the magazine.  

“Why have I and so many other Eastern Canadians migrated to the West Coast? I think they should have added a few more criteria to their list like losing points for number of Tim Hortons per capita,” she said.

But with some things done right, like buying new cars, Squamish can go up a notch next year.

“Improvement in one area can move a city up a long piece on the ranking,” Froats said.

“The list is very competitive so in some cases an extra couple of points in one category could move a city up 15-20 on the overall ranking.”


  1. Diane Sherlock says:

    wake up Squamish and make some changes.

    • darlene atkinson says:

      i agree its really expensive to live here among the facts theres no shopping high prices and absolutetly nothing for teens to do squamish needs a shopping mall and some big home outfitters here in order to keep ppl here, i mean whistler has more to offer than squamish this is a trasient town with many drug and theivery problems. theres also not much help for children with diabiliteis either. theres hardly any work and if your lucky they may hire you for the season (WINTER AND CHRISTMAS) SO MY ADVICE IS UNLESS YOU DONT NEED EXPERTS FOR YOUR CHILDREN,YOU HAVE A CAR, CAN AFFORD THE RENT, AND THE COST OF DAILY LIVING dont come here ITS A BARON BORING PLACE FOR average ppl with no car not much money and not much help period your doomed stay in the city.

  2. Ed Alder says:

    “Wake up Squamish and make some changes” ? Why, to satisfy a survey that is written by basically an accountant, tabulating numbers from a census report that is 6 years old, who’s probably never been here? Pull you head out of your nether regions folks! Wasn’t our town responsible for being one of the fastest growing in western Canada in a much more recent census report? If anyone really cares what numbers are worth in the first place! Do you like where you live? And if not, what do you dislike? If you want to “make a difference” GET INVOLVED and make it. If you don’t like where you live, do I have to show you where the highway is? Go! I love Squamish, for a great many reasons, and I sure don’t need the results of a survey or half-baked interpretation of a select few census stats to tell me whether my town “measures up” in some magazine I’ve never heard of!

  3. Jim Harvey says:

    Who gives a s*#t what Money Sense says. I live in Paradise!

  4. Laura Modray says:

    I agree with Jim! Everytime I go back to Ontario to visit family I am reminded why I left…Squamish is paradise whether its raining or the sun is shining.

  5. Margarita says:

    Although based on their scale of points, Squamish doesn’t vouch well in comparison with the rest of their cities, it does bring up a couple of points that do make sense and in which Squamish would be better to “wake up” and make “some changes”.

    There is very low employment here, the transit system does suck, and there isn’t much to do other than go hiking and biking – which assuredly not EVERY single person who lives in Squamish lives for. It’s unfortunate that it IS a commuter town, and a growing one, there is no train of viable bus system or ferry system (yet, I’m aware they are working on a bus proposal). But it would be nice not to hear about a yet another Squamish business closing its’ doors.

    • Muriel Shephard says:

      Get involved! Take an interest in the history of Squamish (Squamish Historical Society), drama (Between Shifts) either as a participant or audience member, the environment and natural world of the valley (Squamish Environment Conservation society), enjoy music of all sorts at various venues, or support the Howe Sound Performing Arts Society. Enjoy the work of the many artists in town – visit the Foyer Gallery and Portico Gallery. Join the library if you haven’t already done so and support their fund-raising activities…. There’s no reason to be bored OR commute to Vancouver for entertainment.