Opinion: Community rankings are in the eye of the beholder

Delta came in 59th out of 415 cities

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw the top two spots on Canada’s Best Communities list recently unveiled by Maclean’s.

I certainly wasn’t laughing at the efforts of the magazine, which does a great job sifting through, and ultimately weighting, a mountain of data in order to come up with a list that it readily acknowledges can be open to interpretation.

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The two communities that made me smile were Burlington and Grimsby, which are both on the shores of Lake Ontario not too far from Toronto. In fact, if you’ve ever done the drive from the centre of the universe down to Niagara Falls, you’ll have taken the QEW through both of the country’s most desirable locales.

The reason I found their lofty status on the list amusing is because I know a family that lived in both communities but decided to pull up stakes and move to the West Coast. And where did they end up? Tsawwassen.

I should note the family`s move took place more than 25 years ago so undoubtedly a lot has changed since then in all three communities, but I think it serves to underscore the notion that when it comes to best places to live, there’s a great deal of subjectivity.

Where did Tsawwassen rank, you ask? Well, it didn’t but Delta as a whole checked in at No. 59, which isn’t too shabby given there are 415 places on the list. We were No. 2 in the region, behind only West Vancouver.

Maclean’s does a good job of weighting the categories based on their importance to the average person, although strong economies and good weather meant Ontario and B.C. occupied all but a half dozen spots in the top 50. Mind you, only one of the 16 B.C. communities in the top 50 was in the Lower Mainland thanks in large part to a lack of housing affordability.

Put greater, or lesser, emphasis on various factors and communities move up and down the list, Delta jumping to No. 25 if weather is the only criteria. Selecting the best place is an inexact science, to be sure, a process where tangibles and intangibles are mixed with personal preferences.

Exhibit A could well be Greater Vancouver, which is such a desirable place to live it’s expecting an influx of another million people over the next two decades, but checks in at No. 229 on the list.

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