WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Globe and Mail recently came out with a list of Canada’s most livable cities, – and two of the top 100 are in Wellington County.
Mapleton placed 70th on the list and Centre Wellington placed 76th, while nearby Guelph placed 41st (despite its name, the list looked at all municipalities and not just “cities”).
Many factors come into play when choosing a place to live. The number one focus is usually the cost of living, followed by amenities, access to education and healthcare, transportation, demographics, etc.
“We spend much time in Canada obsessing over housing prices and the real estate market. But we spend less time discussing what makes a place the ‘best’ to live in,” stated Globe and Mail data editor Mahima Singh in an email to the Advertiser.
“Giving readers a chance to think about what makes for an actual livable city and spurring a bit of debate were some of the motivations for the project.”
Mapleton Township ranked 70th out of 100 and 16th in Ontario.
“Those living here in the community know how great of a community we have, and now it’s publicized right across Canada, and the world, to see that we are a great community,” said Mapleton Mayor Gregg Davidson.
Mapleton’s highest rank is in the safety category, while it places 71st in economy.
“We give economy a high weight when we calculate our final rank, because Mapleton ranks so high in economy, its overall rank goes up,” Singh stated.
Mapleton does, however, rank low in housing. This is another heavy-weight category for the final ranking and is why the township does not rank too high overall.
Centre Wellington placed 76th nation-wide and 17th provincially.
Singh told the Advertiser Centre Wellington does well with its health care and education, but it ranks low in housing and demographics, pulling its overall weighted rank down to 76.
“Obviously, we want to have a place that is first and foremost a welcoming place and is a balanced community,” Centre Wellington Mayor Shawn Watters told the Advertiser.
“In terms of having all those things in the community, we’re working towards having more variety of housing.”
Watters added he appreciates that others recognize the community.
“I moved here 31, 32 years ago, and it always impresses me at how wonderful and how inviting this community is, and I know that’s part and parcel,” said Watters.
“And that’s reason a lot of people like myself love living here.”
Placing 41st was the City of Guelph. Looking at just cities, Guelph ranked 7th of the 20 Ontario cities chosen.
According to Singh, Guelph does very well in the field of amenities, transportation, education, health care and demographics – five out of the 10 categories being discussed in this project.
“We’re proud that Guelph is not only mentioned in a very high-ranking place in The Globe and Mail’s list, but also consistently recognized as one of those best places to live and work across our country,” said Guelph CAO Scott Stewart.
He added Guelph is always welcoming newcomers to the city, and there are also residents who have been in Guelph for some time and “there’s a reason they’ve been here for some time.”
“It’s nice to see. Sometimes you just need that little bit of outside recognition,” he said.
‘Really great amenities’
According to Wellington County economic development director Jana Burns, several county townships also made a similar list in Maclean’s Magazine last year.
“It’s certainly a compliment to the communities [and] to the townships for their years of municipal investments into amenities and infrastructure, that set the stage for healthy growth,” Burns said.
“I think for us at the county, it’s wonderful because anytime we get ranked – whether it’s Maclean’s or The Globe [and Mail], it seems to be the family-focused criteria ranking where we do really well, which is what we feel we have as our biggest advantage…”
She added, “We have some really great amenities and we are close to urban centres, but that small-town charm creates that sense of belonging and I think that’s important and I think it’s wonderful that we have that.”