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A cyclist exits a converted train bridge which connects downtown Fredericton, NB, with the north side of the city. The popular recreational bridge stretches across the St. John (River and connects to a large network of trails that extend beyond the city and into the surrounding forests.Chris Donovan/The Globe and Mail

A couple of years ago, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs declared that “the secret is out” when it comes to the province’s high level of livability. David Shipley, a Fredericton resident for more than a decade, says he couldn’t have said it any better himself – especially when it comes to his city.

Mr. Shipley, the vice-president of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and a founder of a local tech startup, said in an interview that the provincial capital may not be as big as other maritime communities, such as Halifax or St. John’s, but it manages to combine the best of city living and small-town life.

Fredericton was ranked the most livable city in Atlantic Canada, and the 43rd most livable in the country overall in a recent comprehensive analysis by The Globe and Mail, in partnership with Environics Analytics Group Ltd.

The Globe ranked 439 communities across the country, using categories such as transportation, housing, climate and amenities. It calculated scores by using specific variables within each category.

Fredericton was one of only two Atlantic Canada cities to break the top 100; Dieppe, N.B., came 60th, while Halifax ranked 106th. While Mr. Shipley didn’t expect his city to rank so high, he certainly agrees that it’s a great place to live. Its economy is propped up by being both a student town and a government centre.

But he said Fredericton also has a surprisingly large tech startup scene that punches above its weight, considering its small population of 61,000. Multiple companies have found success in the city and sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, such as Q1 Labs, which was acquired by IBM for roughly $600-million, and Radian6, which was bought by Salesforce for roughly $300-million.

“Those two exits helped fuel a whole spate of tech startups in the area,” said Mr. Shipley, noting that some of the founders of those companies went on to create other robust tech businesses.

Compared with other cities in New Brunswick, he said Fredericton has a very walkable downtown with lots of potential for further infill and density. But one of the biggest positives is the local trail network that runs from downtown to communities further out.

Mr. Shipley said the trails are similar in quality to cities such as Victoria, which boast multi-use paths that many residents use every day to get between home and work. (The British Columbia capital was rated the most livable city in Canada in The Globe’s study.)

“One of the things I love about having my startup downtown is I can get up in the morning and run the trails and have a gorgeous six-kilometre run.”

The trail network and the access to nature is also a highlight for 45-year-old David Hogarth, who moved from Toronto just before the COVID-19 pandemic started. He uses the network “religiously,” he said.

“For those of us who want to use transportation methods other than cars, they maintain the trails year round.”

He mainly moved because of a job with the government, but he said he makes a similar salary as when he lived in Toronto, and Fredericton’s relatively cheap housing markets makes life much more affordable.

Both Mr. Hogarth and Mr. Shipley said the New Brunswick capital manages to have enough of the big-city amenities (a walkable downtown that has a variety of places to eat and a sense of community) and the benefits of small-town living.

While there’s no denying that Fredericton is a small city – there isn’t much of a nightlife, and downtown tends to get sleepy after 5 p.m – Mr. Hogarth said you’ll still be able to find urban fixes of interest, such as vegan cafes.

Ultimately, the city ticks a lot of boxes as a community, he said. There’s a sense that others are realizing that, too, and it feels like more out-of-town people have moved to Fredericton since the pandemic.

“When I look at the quality of life I’ve got, I’ve got a pretty nice-sized condo. My balcony here would be the size of a condo in Toronto,” Mr. Hogarth said.

“And when I see that I’ve got the trails right next to me and I’m making basically the same amount I was making in Toronto, why would I move back?”

Canada’s most livable cities in Atlantic Canada

1. Fredericton, N.B.

2. Dieppe, N.B.

3. Halifax, N.S.

4. Moncton, N.B.

5. Quispamsis, N.B.

6. St. John’s, N.L.

7. Charlottetown, PEI

8. Rothesay, N.B.

9. Saint John, N.B.

10. Edmundston, N.B.

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