Retirees: Is Owen Sound Missing the Obvious?

Is it just me or does the city of Owen Sound just not get it.  If you’re business was given nation-wide free publicity promoting your product or service as the best in Canada, would you exploit it or bury it?  You guessed it. Owen Sound has buried it.

In August, the Canadian edition of MSN Money, a world-wide website about business news affiliated with CNBC, voted Owen Sound the number one Canadian city in which to retire.  It beat out cities large and small from Victoria and Vancouver BC to Halifax NS and everywhere in-between.  This is no surprise.  We all know Owen Sound and surrounding area is the best place to live, but to have it confirmed by MSN Money is likely news to you.

Why isn’t this news common knowledge?  A search on the Owen Sound Sun Times website for last August revealed no mention of the story.  No mention either on the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce website or their recently published 16 page, Make it Your Business, quarterly insert in the Sun Times.  The Sun Times and the Chamber should care about retirement because it’s big business.

Seniors are the largest and most affluent market in North America and many are looking to retire to places just like Owen Sound.   Retirees are an industry who stimulate the local economy by spending their retirement income.Seniors are the largest and most affluent market in North America and many are looking to retire to places just like Owen Sound.   Retirees are an industry who stimulate the local economy by spending their retirement income.  Retirement communities support existing businesses and attract new retail and commercial businesses.  They create demand for new housing and stimulate the renovation market.  They add needed city revenue through local taxes and much more.  Just ask the citizens of Elliott Lake how retirees transformed their decaying city after the mining industry declined in the 1980s.

The City of Owen Sound promotes itself on their website as, ‘where you want to live’.  Yet the city chose not to feature the MSN Money (Canada) news story prominently on its home page.  It’s not as if there isn’t any space to feature the story.  Half of the home page is blank.  Instead we learn about available ice rental at the Bayshore Arena, about watching live broadcasts of city council meetings, and a pending minor sports policy meeting.  These are not reasons to compel a retiree to ’want’ to live in Owen Sound.

So what did the MSN Money article say?

“Owen Sound’s tagline is ‘where you want to live’ — and we’ve put it at the very top of our list of where you want to retire. Based on the southern shores of Georgian Bay, this picturesque community has four conservation areas totalling more than 27,000 acres, an extensive waterfront trail system and great access to boating and fishing. There are also three golf courses that serve the city.

To top it all off, during April and May the city is host to the Springfest 55+ Games — an annual event that bring seniors together to compete in events like five-pin bowling, golf putting and shuffleboard.

The city offers a load of free or low-cost recreation options and very affordable housing. Even in a hot housing market, the average price of a home in the area is about $230,000, which is well below the half-million dollars you’re looking at to pick up a place in Toronto.

It’s an added bonus that Owen Sound, or ‘The O.S.’ as we like to call it, is just a couple of hours’ drive away from Toronto, Canada’s largest city.”

Owen Sound has a great story to tell and yet the city’s Economic and Tourism Department doesn’t mention retirees as an industry to pursue in their most recent Community Report.  If Owen Sound is the best place to retire to in Canada then the city should focus its image and marketing efforts, including economic development, on the very people who would want to live here.  Attract the seniors – business will follow.

To view the entire MSN Money (Canada) Top 10 Canadian cities to retire click:

Author: Peter Reesor

5 Responses


The interesting question is whether the City knew about the article. If they did know about the article, then they should be using it in local media. But more importantly, they should be using it in non- local media to attract new residents.

Certainly, they should be promoting this type of information to any local developers that are bringing seniors to the community for new housing developments.

And why not make it a central theme of next year’s Springfest 55. “You could be enjoying this all the time”.

If the GBBJ is going to succeed it will have to develop a reputation of accuracy. This “editorial” neglects the fact the the Sun Times published a retirement center column on it’s Forum page on August 28th. It not only covered the MSN Money story, but also the more important Warren Bland, “Retire in Style” book which includes Owen Sound in the top 60 retirement communities in North America.

As a post script to writing this article, I have subsequently learned that The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) recently picked Owen Sound as one of the best places in Canada to retire thanks to inexpensive housing, a lively cultural scene, and easy access to the great outdoors. Again I find no mention in the Owen Sound Times, the City of Owen Sound website or The Chamber of Commerce. Seniors are big business — is anyone listening??.

The point of my article is to highlight that Owen Sound is inadequately marketed as a place to retire. I agree that having a reputation for accuracy is important, and wish to clarify your response to my article. The MSN Money story was not featured on the Owen Sound Sun Times public website. The Forum page you refer to is accessible only to paid subscribers of the Sun Times’ E-edition web service. This service is primarily used by subscribers who, for the most part, live or vacation in the area. Most people searching for a place to retire to in Canada would not pay to subscribe to this service. They would most likely access the newspaper’s public website for information.


You make an interesting point Peter. You should email them your thoughts, I’m sure they would like to hear your input.



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