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themselves prosperous and attractive places to live. This is partially due to our vast geography that separates rural towns built near mines or pulp-and-paper mills from centres that provide amenities middle class families increasingly demand. Sometimes it's a matter of economics. Small cities prosper in boom times when people flock to work in mines or mills or to harvest neighboring forests. But one-industry towns rarely flourish over the long run as boom inevitably leads to bust with serious consequences for the local economy. Modern aspirations also change. Few people 50 years ago would have thought lifestyle considerations like the ability to ride your bike to work would have influenced decisions on where to put down roots. Today, how we live and how well we live is increasingly becoming as important as the size of our homes and the amount of taxes we pay.
Many cities face cascading social and economic-related problems. A high unemployment rate causes people to move away from the city, which lowers the tax base and in turn disrupts the city’s ability to provide services. Fewer job prospects also lead to a higher crime rate, which in turn deters people from moving to the city.
The cities rated the lowest on the Best Places to Live list struggle with these issues, but they're fighting back and finding some success. Note that these cities did not have to come worst in any category to find themselves at or near the bottom. Poor showings in several areas can drag a city to the bottom of the list. In the following slides we highlight some of the challenges these cities face.
For our full methodology on how we crunched our numbers, click here.
Research by Phil Froats and Alan Smith. Gallery by Amber Bellaire.