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Not the ugliest

Thunder Bay isn’t a top performer among attractive cities, but a new report card shows that the city is a student showing improvement.
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The city as seen through the window of Mayor Lynn Peterson's office. (Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com)
Thunder Bay isn’t a top performer among attractive cities, but a new report card shows that the city is a student showing improvement.

A Conference Board of Canada study ranked cities across the country on environmental, education, innovation and housing. The study gives Thunder Bay a C grade.

The last attractive Canadian cities report released in 2007 had Thunder Bay alone in the lowest spot on the list. The city became infamously recognized as 27th attractive out of 27 cities ranked.

This year’s report shows that Thunder Bay is no longer the unattractive loner as it shares its C grade with 21 other cities, including Kelowna, Peterborough, Gatineau and Kitchener.

Job loss is the major reason behind Thunder Bay’s low grade this time around, says Mayor Lynn Peterson.

Peterson points out that the study used data from four years ago, and therefore isn’t a fair snapshot of what Thunder Bay is today. The mayor added that the older data doesn’t show the city’s recent innovation, which might lead to a stronger overall grade.

"I think we’re going in the right direction," Peterson said. "It is pretty reflective of a resource based community."

Peterson said the C grade is nothing to worry about and means Thunder Bay is doing OK. She said they would use the study as a tool to further improve the city.

The two areas that Thunder Bay did well in were economics and in health care. But the city couldn’t get an A in health care. Only Kingston and St.John’s were able to take the top grade in that category.

Some local residents disagreed with the professor that handed the city its C. Many believe Thunder Bay deserves a higher score.

Confederation College student Kyle Barabash is among those residents.

"I don’t like it that Thunder Bay is one of the lowest on the scale," Barabash said. "There is a lot of housing, a lot of jobs and education is great."

Paul Ryder said Thunder Bay needed to create more incentives to attract small businesses. He said small businesses are what make a town work.

"City council keeps doing the big projects but the big projects aren’t bringing small businesses," Ryder said.

Six cities received a perfect A– Waterloo, Calgary, Ottawa, Richmond Hill, Vancouver and St. John.