It isn’t unknown for a Salmon Arm resident to smirk smugly when witnessing gridlock in the Lower Mainland.
Gridlock, like a lengthy commute, is as foreign to some Salmon Arm citizens as arriving early at social events.
And that haughtiness is not without reason.
The results of the last census – 2016 – show Salmon Arm, when compared with other B.C. communities with a core population over 10,000, is topped by just one community in terms of drivers having a short average commute time. That community is Dawson Creek. The average for drivers in Dawson Creek is 14 minutes while in Salmon Arm the average trip is 15. Salmon Arm shares the magic 15-minute number with both Powell River and Terrace.
In terms of commuting on public transit, however, Salmon Arm’s status drops a little. Average commute time via public transit in Salmon Arm is 30 minutes, while the public transit trip takes just 26 minutes in Dawson Creek, 27 in Penticton, Fort St. John and Prince Rupert, and 28 minutes in Nelson.
Those numbers sound more impressive when compared with larger centres in B.C. The average driver in Vancouver takes 27 minutes to get to and from work, while those who take public transit see an average commute of 44 minutes. In Victoria those numbers drop a little to 21 and 35 minutes respectively, while in Kelowna, the average drive to work takes 19 minutes or, for those on public transit, 34 minutes.
Other communities in the North-Okanagan and Columbia-Shuswap regional districts also have a longer commuting time than Salmon Arm.
In Sicamous, the average commute for drivers is 21 minutes, according to Stats Can, while there is no average time for public transit listed.
In Revelstoke, the average commute for drivers is 16 minutes, and 19 minutes for the one per cent who use public transit.
Vernon weighs in with an 18-minute average commute for drivers and a 31-minute commute on public transit.
Lana Fitt, Salmon Arm’s economic development manager, notes that commute time is one of the quality of life indicators that people look to when deciding where to live. In fact, she says, it’s been a part of the city’s branding project that includes comparisons of key indicators against those in other communities in order to attract residents and businesses.
Canada-wide in 2016, 15.9 million Canadians commuted to work – 74 per cent by driving, 12 per cent on public transit, seven per cent by walking or riding a bicycle, six per cent as a passenger in a car (includes car, van, truck or SUV), and one per cent by using other means.
The average commute to work in Canada in 2016 took 26 minutes. Seven per cent of Canadians usually worked at home.
In metropolitan centres, 22 per cent of commuters living in the Montreal core area commuted by public transit and took an average of 44 minutes to get to work, while Montreal drivers took 27 minutes.
In Toronto, 24 per cent commuted by transit, taking 50 minutes, with drivers taking 30 minutes.
In Vancouver, 20 per cent commuted on public transit with an average time of 44 minutes, while drivers took 27 minutes.
In Winnipeg, 24 per cent took public transit for an average commute of 36 minutes, while Winnipeg drivers took 23 minutes.
In Calgary, 14 per cent used public transit with an average commute of 42 minutes, while vehicle drivers took 24 minutes.
In Edmonton, 11 per cent of commuters took public transit for an average of 40 minutes, while vehicle drivers took an average of 24 minutes.