Maclean’s recently came up with a ranking of Canada’s Best Places To Live by mixing together a bunch of numbers and throwing them into a formula. New Westminster placed 136th, which led some to bemoan how New West is a wasteland of bridal shops and hair salons.
There’s a couple of ways you could respond to this, and I’m going to respond both ways.
First, the study looked at nine different criteria and weighed them all equally. But what if you personally rank them differently? Feel free to hit up that survey and weight things differently. I did, ranking “transit friendly”, “health accessibility”, and “arts & community” higher and “low crime”, “high wealth & incomes”, and “nice weather” lower. New West ended up 33rd for me.
(Side note: if all you care about is low taxes, New Westminster slots in at #6, due mostly to the low provincial income taxes and relatively low property taxes.)
But secondly and most importantly, a city isn’t defined by its numbers. It’s defined by its people. You can’t distill down a community into nine numbers. Where on those numbers do you put Steel & Oak’s awesome community-building efforts? How does Tenth To The Fraser slot in there? Or PechaKucha New West? How about last night’s super-successful Music By The River, or tonight’s sure-to-be-super-successful Fridays On Front? Or how the city’s credit unions came together to help form a rent bank?
Where’s the slider for “number of high fives given to friends walking down the street”? Or “too many volunteers came out so we had to hope that the fire marshal didn’t show up for our volunteer meet-and-greet dinner”? Or “number of mayors who turn their parking spot into bike parking and then into a parklet”?
Sure, go on about how New Westminster came 136th on some arbitrary measurement. But if you truly believe that New Westminster is the 136th best place to live in Canada, then obviously you’re missing out on the awesome community we have here, because there’s no way that New West has the 136th best community in Canada. Top ten, definitely.