Great places to live: Alberta


In the southern part of Alberta, Lethbridge receives some of the highest amounts of sunshine each year in Canada. It also enjoys the highest winter and annual mean temperatures along with slightly cooler summer temperatures than the rest of the prairies. Its small-town flavour and cosmopolitan amenities make it a diverse and dynamic city. And, according to a Personal Tax and Cost of Living Study by MMK Consulting in 2002, its 67,000 residents benefit from living in one of Canada’s least expensive cities.

Watching the weather
Average Jan. temp (daily mean): -7.8 C
Average July temp (daily mean): 18 C
Annual rainfall: 271.1 mm
Annual snowfall: 130.5 cm

Setting up house
Bungalow: $130,000
Standard two-storey: $214,200
Condominium: $134,900
Monthly rent on a two-bedroom apartment: $625
(Source: Howard Sharpe, Lethbridge Real Estate Online)

Getting around
Lethbridge is serviced by the LA Transit bus system, which offers a Bike & Ride programuring the summer months. Lethbridge County Airport provides regional flights to Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Calgary. There is bus service to and from the city.

Enjoying your life
Summer brings Whoop-Up Days to Lethbridge. During the rest of the year, people can discover the area’s early history at the Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Centre and the Sir Alexander Galt Museum. There are 17 movie theatres, a busy performing arts centre at the University of Lethbridge and the Yates Memorial Theatre, home to the New West Theatre Company.

The city has a symphony, a multicultural heritage centre, art galleries, and a public library. The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden recognizes the contribution of Japanese Canadians, some of whom had been forcibly evacuated to Alberta from B.C. during the Second World War.

Golfers have lots of choice here, with five golf courses in the immediate area and eight more within a 30-minute drive. The city’s park system has 60 kms of trails in 70 parks totalling 4,300 acres. Nestled in the Oldman River valley within the city, the Helen Schuler Coulee Centre introduces residents to the local natural environment. There are five indoor pools, six indoor ice rinks, a climbing centre as well as a YMCA, YWCA and two seniors’ centres. The Lethbridge Alberta International Air Show attracts thousands in August.

Calling the doctor
• Lethbridge Regional Hospital is a 272-bed facility that includes CT and MRI intensive care, medicine, surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, geriatric and rehabilitative services, emergency and specialized trauma-team clinics – asthma, sleep apnea, eye problems and mental health.
• Eight medical clinics (four are walk-in).
• 69 family physicians, 61 specialists, 40 dentists.
• Long term care: St. Michael’s Health Centre is a 210-bed continuing care centre; Edith Cavell Care Centre has 120 beds; Extendicare Lethbridge has 120 long-term and palliative care beds.
• Lethbridge Regional Hospital operates a geriatric outpatient clinic.

What they’re saying
“One of the biggest attractions of Lethbridge is the climate. Our winters are mild, and then the Chinooks come through off the Rockies. We have all the amenities of a large town with plenty of activities: fishing, camping, hiking. We’re close to the mountains for day trips and hiking in the Coulees. There are golf courses galore. We’re only 45 minutes to Calgary, yet we enjoy a slower pace of life. Getting around the city from one end to the other is easy. Lethbridge has enjoyed steady even growth for several years. All I can say is that Lethbridge is definitely where I want to stay.” Howard Sharpe

Next page: Camrose

Just a one-hour drive southeast of the provincial capital of Edmonton in the heartland of Alberta is Camrose, home to more than 15,000 people. The garden city in the open prairie is the site of the Big Valley Jamboree, Canada’s largest outdoor country-and-western festival.

Watching the weather
Average Jan. temp (daily mean): -13.4 C
Average July temp (daily mean): 16.5 C
Annual rainfall: 354.4 mm
Annual snowfall: 122.9 cm

Setting up house
Bungalow: $110,000 (25 years or older); $130,000 to $150,000 (for a five- to 10-year-old bungalow with developed basement)
Standard two-storey: $80,000 to $100,000 (40 years or older); $150,000 to $225,000 (up to 10 years)
Condominium: $150,000 to $165,000
Monthly rent on a two-bedroom apartment: $475 for older buildings and up to $700 in newer buildings, which are the most popular option for seniors.
(Source: Dale Bowal, Re/Max Real Estate Camrose; Craig McNabb, Century 21 A.L.L. Stars Realty)

Getting around
There is a handivan service for seniors and people with disabilities. You can take a cab anywhere in town for less than $5 ($3 if you’re a senior). Camrose is also looking at alternatives in the Transportation Plan Update, which is currently under development.

Enjoying your life
Country-and-western fans congregate at the Big Valley Jamboree, held midsummer at the exhibition grounds. All summer long, Art Walk invites interaction with working artists at various locations throughout the city. The Chuck Maclean Arts Centre has studios, a dark room, recital hall and dance studios and hosts the annual Creative Summer School. The public library, Centennial Museum and refurbished Camrose Railway Station Museum, Archives and Tearoom as well as continuing education courses at Augustana University College keep minds active.

Spectator sports include a spring rodeo, Junior A hockey and horse shows. For more active involvement, Camrose has an aquatic centre with an indoor track and a Nordic centre for cross-country skiing and biathlon. During Jaywalkers Jamboree, anyone can jaywalk for bargains and good food. Resident swans can be a hazard on the 18-hole Camrose Golf Club. Whistle Stop Golf Club, with its two nine-hole courses, also has an 18-hole mini-golf course.

Calling the doctor
• St. Mary’s Hospital is a 76-bed acute care hospital offering services in psychiatry, surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, urology, palliative care, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, respiratory therapy plus laboratory, mammography and radiology services.
• Walk-in clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital. Two other clinics offer rehab and mental health care.
• 13 family physicians, five dentists.
• Long-term care: Bethany Long-term Care has 188 beds.
• The Community Rehabilitation Program provides respiratory therapy for those with asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or any respiratory diseases and general respiratory symptoms.

What they’re saying
“Camrose is the place to live. Our politicians work hard to keep innovative ideas coming to Camrose and keeping up to date with new development. Camrose prides its popularity on its picturesque beauty. We’ve been voted cleanest city in our region, with a low crime rate and continuing prosperity. Our seniors are the backbone of our community. With wonderful programs set up, the elderly receive the respect and live the lifestyles they deserve. Camrose has a wonderful small-town atmosphere that is very community-oriented but has all the amenities of a larger city.”  Craig McNabb


Next week:  British Columbia