Skip to content

Alberta small cities ranked among best in Canada, but B.C. takes crown

Lethbridge in at No. 10, with St. Albert at No.14 and Airdrie No. 22 in ranking by marketing firm – Victoria, B.C. was named Canada’s best small city , with Kelowna, B.C. at No. 2
St Albert. jpg copy
St. Albert "prosperity" score carried it to ranking among the best 15 small cities in Canada . | St. Albert Economic Development

A recent report published by Vancouver-based communications and marketing firm Resonance Consultancy has pegged St. Albert as the 14th-best small city in Canada. 

The report declares Victoria, B.C. the best small city in the country, while Kelowna, B.C. and Kingston, Ont. have been awarded second and third place, respectively. 

The firm ranked Canadian cities with population numbers below 200,000 "by using a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 32 areas grouped into six core categories," the report states.

The six evaluation categories included: place, programming, prosperity, product, people, and promotion. 

The "place" category was defined by the quality of the environment; "programming" included factors such as shopping, nightlife, restaurants, and shows; "prosperity" measured household income, poverty rate, employment rate, and income equality; "product" factored in amenities such as attractions, infrastructure, and healthcare; "people" was measured by the "diversity and talent of the city's population," while "promotion" was measured through benchmarks such as the number of Facebook check-ins, number of Google search results, number of Instagram hashtags, and past popularity on Google trends.

According to the report's scoring breakdown, St. Albert's "prosperity" score carried it to its 14th-place finish (St. Albert ranked fourth overall in the prosperity category).

In the other five categories, the city ranked 24th for "place," 29th for "product," 22nd for "people," 48th for "promotion," and 60th in "programming."

In a brief write-up of St. Albert's ranking, the report's authors commended the city for its "prosperity" score, having a provincial park, having the 18th-best ratio of doctors to residents, and having the largest outdoor farmers' market in the country.

The report does not include a complete breakdown or explanation of the scoring.

Tilman Klumpp, an economics professor at the University of Alberta, said St. Albert residents should take the report's results with a grain of salt.

“These are the things you’d expect in a ranking of cities, [but] the report itself doesn’t give any information on how they weighted these things," Klumpp said, noting the measurement process itself is also unclear. 

Another concern Klumpp listed about the report is the direct comparison of cities that are considered bedroom communities — such as St. Albert — and cities that are considered stand-alone cities, such as Victoria or Kelowna.

"The closest comparison to St. Albert that’s in the report is Airdrie," Klumpp said.

Klumpp argued a significant portion of St. Albert's wealth is likely generated by employment in Edmonton. 

According to the report's ranking, Airdrie is the 22nd-best small Canadian city. Airdrie managed to beat out St. Albert in the "prosperity" category, scoring third overall.

Lethbridge is the highest-ranked Albertan city at number 10 and scored high in the "place" category (third overall), with no ranking lower than 39th in any of the other categories.