Posted: Tuesday, December 27, 2016 2:50 pm
Relatively low household incomes and a shrinking population have left Penticton near the bottom of BC Business magazine’s annual ranking of the best cities in the province in which to work.
Penticton was listed at 34th among 36 cities of at least 10,000 people, down from 29th last year. It outranked only Port Alberni (35) and Powel River (36), but fared much worse than Okanagan rivals Kelowna (4) and Vernon (22).
Atop the list was Squamish, which scored highly on average household income and population growth, followed by Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, both of which polled well on average income and income growth, despite high unemployment rates.
Dragging down Penticton’s rating was a 2.25 per cent decrease in five-year population growth, which was the worst among the 36 contenders, and an average annual household income of $80,678 that ranked fourth worst.
Those factors were offset by an average annual shelter cost of $18,204, which placed Penticton 11th overall, and a 20 per cent spike in five-year income growth that was fifth best.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit described the rankings as “subjective.”
“Fort St. John and Dawson Creek were Nos. 2 and 3 on the list, but most people wouldn’t compare those places to the paradise we have here in terms of lifestyle or beauty. After all, you still need to live where you work,” he said in a statement.
Jakubeit was pleased to see Penticton was competitive in categories that compared cost of shelter and income growth, but, “I think to have a negative (population) growth rate hurt our rankings as people generally associate more opportunities in cities that are growing.”
He went on to note real estate sales are on a record pace – already over $1 billion this year across the entire South Okanagan – as is construction activity, the value of which sits at $195 million in 2016, up from $60 million a year ago. The city was also recently named the country’s fourth most entrepreneurial – down two spots from last year – by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“So while rankings can be utilized in branding or marketing, it still comes down to one’s personal preference,” said Jakubeit, “and all we can do is try to create an environment where economic activity is welcomed, can flourish, and there is a healthy balance of live, work and play.”
The editor of BC Business also cautioned against reading too much into the numbers.
“As with most such rankings, designing the list is as much art as science: we struggle to find the right balance between factors such as household incomes, unemployment rates and shelter costs,” Matt O’Grady, who couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, wrote in a note to readers.
“Rankings are a great tool, but important life decisions like where to live and work are highly personal.”