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The 10 Worst Places To Live In Canada: Your 2018 Guide

14 April, 2018 / by Glenn Carter

In 2012, we wrote a series of articles about the worst cities to live in Canada. We looked at a variety of factors, such as the real estate market, the amount of crime, the amount of health care available, and what incomes are like in any particular area.

The cities on this list were included for various reasons, and included: Vancouver, Hawkesbury, Vaughan, North Battleford, Saskatoon, Brooks, Bay Roberts, St. John’s, Kenora, Leamington, and Thetford Mines.

That was a long time ago, so let’s revisit the reasons why they were on that list, and see what’s changed since then.

Vancouver, B.C. – #10

Vancouver was originally on the list because of its high real estate prices. If you know anything about Vancouver’s real estate market, you know that the prices are still increasing. In fact, the average price of a condo in February of 2018 was $750,052 last month, which is 24.2 percent higher than the same time last year.

The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Vancouver is now $1,921 (up from $1,554 in 2012). However, since 2012, the cost of living in Vancouver has actually decreased. Back then, Vancouver had a cost of living index of 110.25, but now sits at 73.13, making it about 33 percent cheaper than it was in 2012.

Hawkesbury, Ontario – #9

The reason we listed Hawkesbury in 2012 was its residents household income, which was the lowest in the country. On top of that, the city had a economic meltdown in the 1980s when the factories closed down, and most of its residents remained jobless.

As it happens in situations like this, young people move away looking for better opportunities, so a number of the town’s residents are retired. Now, Hawkesbury and its neighbouring cities are still among the country’s lowest income municipalities, as the economy wasn’t able to recover.

Vaughan, Ontario – #8

We listed Vaughan in 2012 because the least amount of its residents walked or biked to work. That may not sound like a good enough reason at first, but when we look deeper into it, we discover Vaughan’s residents spend countless hours in their cars or public transportation going to work (mostly in Toronto), which is expensive (to the tune of $10,000 a year), and also frustrating.

The Vaughan Community Well-Being Report was released in 2015 and the town’s leadership is still tackling the issues of high commute times, low resident community involvement, and high housing cost. That said, more recent developments like a subway addition and downtown gentrification have increased Vaughan’s liveability substantially since 2012.

North Battleford, Saskatchewan – #7

North Battleford was originally on the list for its high crime rates. In fact, the crime rates in 2012 were the highest in the country. This small town was experiencing high unemployment and low income, but also low housing prices at the time of the original article.

The crime rates in the city have not dwindled, as predicted. Dubbed Canada’s most dangerous city, North Battleford is continuing to experience crime waves, and according to the residents, the administration is not really doing anything about it.  

Brooks, Alberta – #6

Brooks made our list in 2012 for its lacking in healthcare. In fact, back then, Brooks had less than one doctor for every 1,000 residents. This town also had issues with crime, and due to the meat packing factories, an unpleasant odor spread quickly and effectively throughout Brooks, and all the residents and tourists noticed.

The province of Alberta has experienced a growth both in population and the amount of doctors per capita over the past decade. In 2012, Alberta has 217 doctors per, and now has 241 doctors, per 100,000 people.

Bay Roberts, Newfoundland – #5

When our last evaluation of the worst places to live in Canada was published, we noted that while Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, had some notable social and economic shortcomings, the city was experiencing some positive changes. One of the most exciting things to happen in the city since our last update was the announcement that the 2020 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games will be help in Bay Roberts.

This is a huge win for a region that needs an economic boost. The publicity, tourism and development the town will experience during the event, and in the months and years leading up to the games, is certain to have a big impact for Bay Roberts.

St. John’s, Newfoundland – #4

Unfortunately for St. John’s, the reason why it appeared on our list of the worst places to live in Canada was simply because of its dreary weather, which is still just as cheerless as ever. However, St. John’s also has some attractions and amenities for which a host of tourists are willing to brave the elements.

This April, the city will host St. John’s Brewfest, the biggest craft beer fest in Newfoundland and Labrador. The event began in 2016 and has grown steadily since then, with 40 percent more breweries participating in 2018 than in the year of its inception. The good news for this city is that there are plenty of people who are happy to trudge through the rain, snow and ice as long as they can enjoy a great craft beer afterwards.

Kenora, Ontario – #3

Kenora, Ontario, made the list of worst places to live in Canada because of the lack of arts in the city. Still, the area has a lot to offer, such as natural beauty and a stable economy. What’s more, Kenora is making a concerted effort to foster art and creativity within the community. In fact, the city dedicates nearly the entire month of April to artistic events and performances.

Its Kenora District Festival of the Arts is in its 74th year and will feature everything from speech and dramatic arts performances to band and instrumental showcases. The event has expanded to include more performers and attract more guests, and it is expected to continue this trajectory well into the future.

Leamington, Ontario – #2

Despite concerns that Leamington residents don’t have sufficient access to public transportation, we determined that the city offered plenty of amenities and resources that are appropriate for its large population of retired residents. In addition, there are several tourist attractions, such as Wheatley Provincial Park and Point Pelee National Park, where people can come to hike, camp, explore and enjoy the area’s natural features.

Considering the small population of the city and its demographics, it appears that Leamington simply does not need the same access to public transportation that larger municipalities in the region do.

Thetford Mines, Quebec – #1

In our last list, we cited the pollution and environmental concerns in Thetford Mines, Quebec, as the primary drawback of living in the city. Although these problems continue to persist, there are efforts underway to address them.

Former asbestos mines in Thetford Mines had long been made open to visitors on guided tours, which posed huge public health and environmental risks. Local authorities have halted these mine visits and will instead focus on educating the public on the history of asbestos in the community via a new interpretive education center.

10More Worst Places to Live in Canada: 2018 Edition

A lot can change in just a few years, so we figured it’s time for another list of the worst places to live in Canada. Although no place is perfect, and it’s hard to find a really bad place to live in Canada, there are some that are simply less appealing than others.

Thus, it’s incredibly important to do your research before making your next move or planning your next vacation to Canada.

 

10. Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick – not to be confused with St. John’s, Newfoundland – has a population of about 67,000 people and an economy that’s based on industrial operations, including a major oil refinery.

Unfortunately, the city doesn’t offer significant employment opportunities outside of industrial labor. You can enjoy some of the city’s rich history and culture on a short visit, but you just might not want to relocate there on a permanent basis.

9. Elliot Lake, Ontario

Elliot Lake is a small town with a population of just over 10,000. Although small towns can offer certain advantages, like a tighter-knit community and quaint local businesses, this town has had a history of negligent oversight. There have been some major concerns about the integrity of the local government stemming from an instance back in 2012, when one of its civil engineers declared a shopping mall structurally sound after accepting a bribe.

The parking garage of the mall later collapsed, causing the deaths of two women and leading to outrage from community members who felt that the government had not acted in the best interests of its citizens.

8. Dolbeau-Mistassini, Quebec

Like some of the other cities listed here, Dolbeau-Mistassini has a notably high crime rate, but that’s not the only reason it made the list. The primary source of industry in the city is its paper mill.

Although this provides considerable employment opportunities to residents, the milling process creates a distinctly unpleasant stench that can be smelled throughout the city. At times it’s overpowering, especially for those not used to it.

7. Truro, Nova Scotia

There are several reasons why Truro earns its place on the list of worst places to live in Canada. For one, a Salvation Army thrift store and donation location was asked to vacate the building it rented last year for seemingly no reason, despite the fact that other tenants were not given any notice to vacate.

In addition, the city has a reputation for providing insufficient online resources to its residents. In fact, some residents were not able to find voting locations on Truro’s website and had difficulty participating in local elections as a result.

6. North Battleford, Saskatchewan

Unfortunately, not much has changed in North Battleford since 2012. Still labeled as the most dangerous place in Canada, North Battleford is ranked the highest for firearm offenses, breaking and entering, and impaired driving.

5. Sarnia, Ontario

Sarnia is characterized by many different industrial entities that provide much-needed employment to the city’s residents—but this industry has a down side, too. The various chemical plants located in the area have caused major environmental concerns and pollution.

The pollution produced by these factories has gotten so bad that almost nobody visits the downtown area anymore for fear of being exposed to dangerous chemicals and materials.

4. Shawinigan, Quebec

As far as industry in Shawinigan is concerned, things aren’t looking so good. The economy has been steadily declining as its main sources of employment and industry, including aluminum manufacturing and paper processing, have diminished.

Moreover, new tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by the United States have made the current economic situation in the city worse.

3. Lachute, Quebec

Like many other cities on this list, Lachute’s economy is fueled by industry such as lumber and paper mills. The community has grappled with numerous issues, including a higher-than-average crime rate and significant pollution. Perhaps the most glaring pitfalls of living in Lachute is the fact that there simply is not much to do in terms of recreation.

2. Miramichi, New Brunswick

Like Kitchner-Waterloo, Miramichi has an ugly history of hate crime and discrimination. The city placed several rainbow stamps around city hall in a show of support and solidarity with the LGBT community, but they were subsequently defaced and vandalized on multiple occasions.

Some residents have even made threatening homophobic comments online in response to the incidents. The community has a reputation for being unwelcoming to outsiders.

1. Port Alberni, Vancouver Island

When it comes to choosing a new city in which to live, there are a few things that are essential to consider, including general safety. If you’re considering relocating to Vancouver Island and you’re concerned with violent crime, you should cross off Port Alberni from your list right away.

It is considered to be the most dangerous city on Vancouver Island, and it ranks 19th among the most dangerous cities in all of Canada. Port Alberni’s Crime Severity Index score, a measure of safety based on crime frequency and severity,  is 137—compared with the national average of just 70.

          

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