By Jeff Labine
When it comes to the places to live, Prince Albert falls near the bottom of the list.
That’s according to the latest ranking by Money Sense, a Toronto-based finance magazine. Out of 417 cities across Canada, Prince Albert ranked 328 overall based on 36 categories including demographics, unemployment, income and wealth, affordability, taxation, crime and weather.
According to the ranking, Prince Albert’s most notable attributes include healthcare accessibility, low taxes and transit friendly. Money Sense listed the average property tax in the city as $1,543, rent $800 and the median household income at $67,555.
The No. 1 city to live in was the nation’s capital, Ottawa, and the best city in Saskatchewan was Weyburn, which ranked fifth thanks to its affordable housing, a robust economy and high wealth and incomes. A total of 10 Saskatchewan cities were ranked by Money Sense, inlcuding Regina came at 34th, Saskatoon at 109th, and North Battleford at 333rd.
Larry Fladager, president of the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, was skeptical of the results. He said he couldn’t follow the criteria Money Sense used to rank the cities especially since Prince Albert went from 186 in 2016 to 328 this year.
“Prince Albert is a good city to live in,” he said. “We are, as they say, the Gateway to the North in terms of recreation, mining, forestry and all those kinds of things. We’re well positioned as a community to be a service community and to provide great services to the people of central and northern Saskatchewan.”
Fladager did agree the city’s most notable attributes are healthcare accessibility, low taxes and transit friendly. He said many people come to Prince Albert to take advantage of the health services provided including seeing doctors or a specialist.
In terms of property taxes, he described P.A. as being very competitive.
“As it related to business taxes, the chamber has worked with city administration around improving our tax ratio — that’s residential, commercial taxes,” he said. “I don’t know if they compared in this report to businesses taxes but our feeling towards business tax, as a ratio to residential taxes, is too high. To be more business friendly, you need to have a lower tax ratio. Saskatoon has done an excellent job in that respect.”
Although he admitted the city has a bit of an image problem around crime, Fladager stressed P.A. is trying to rebrand itself as a strong service sector economy for central and northern Saskatchewan.