Sarnia named seventh wonder for retirees

From   The Observer
By Barbara Simpson

Sarnia has been named one of the seven wonders of Canada in which to retire by Globe and Mail readers.

The Imperial City landed fifth on The Globe’s “Seven great places – yes in Canada – to retire” list published in the national newspaper Wednesday.

While Globe readers helped shape the list with suggestions for communities, contributing writer Kira Vermond fleshed out why Sarnia is a gem for retirees, pointing to the community’s trails, beaches and golf courses, as well as inexpensive real estate.

“Sell a $700,000 home in Toronto and use $329,900 to purchase a three-bedroom bungalow on half an acre across from Lake Huron,” Vermond wrote in the article. “The median age in this mature community of 129,000 is 54.20, so you’ll have plenty of retiree company.”

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley welcomed the city’s billing as a top retirement community from a national newspaper.

“It’s good publicity because the demographics in Canada are shifting,” he said, pointing to baby boomers who are retiring early and are often equipped with better pensions compared to previous generations of seniors.

By 2031, Statistics Canada has estimated that 23% of all Canadians will be seniors.

When asked if national businesses looking for young workforces may be detracted from setting up shop in a place dubbed a retirement community, Bradley said he didn’t think that would be the case.

“We need to be an age-friendly community whether you’re 20 or 80,” he said.

The Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership and its partners have been working on efforts to attract a variety of residents, including students and immigrants, noted Bradley, who chairs the organization.

The City of Sarnia saw a 1.3% increase to its population between 2006 and 2011, according to the most recent Statistics Canada data made available. The majority of Sarnia residents were between the ages of 45 and 64 in 2011.

But Bradley contends he isn’t satisfied with the city’s rate of population growth, suggesting it should be between 6% and 7% for a city the size of Sarnia.

SLEP is in the process of reviewing all its resident-attraction efforts, he noted.

“We’re looking at how successful those efforts are,” he said.

Other Canadian communities who made the list of great places to retire include Crystal Beach, Ont., Sechelt, B.C., Nanaimo, B.C., Stratford, Ont., the Bay of Quinte, Ont., and Brockville, Ont.

All of these communities are expected to be individually profiled in The Globe and Mail in a seven-part series.

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