Room for improvement - MoneySense

Room for improvement


Lachute, Que. has placed last overall on MoneySense’s 2013 ranking of Canadian 200 cities and towns—not because it isn’t beautiful or because its residents aren’t wonderful—but because the city falls behind in a number of key metrics that ensure a viable city for years to come.

The town’s problem areas include a shrinking population, low incomes and high taxes. On the plus side, there are plenty of doctors in Lachute, house prices are relatively low and the weather is mild compared to other parts of Quebec.

Lachute isn’t the only town on our annual Best Places to Live list that has its work cut out for it. Here are the worst performing cities in some of the most important categories:

Population growth: Miramichi, N.B.

This New Brunswick town saw its population decline more than 14% between 2011 and 2012. The once thriving pulp and paper town has seen many of its residents relocate to other parts of the province and across Canada in search of work.

Unemployment: Bay Roberts, N.L.

The jobless rate in Bay Roberts has continued to climb reaching 22.38% in recent months or roughly three times the national average.

Discretionary income: Victoria, B.C.

Residents in Victoria have the least amount of money left over after paying taxes and other expenses. In all fairness, the low average discretionary income of $26,066 is most likely a reflection of the city’s large aging population living on fixed income pensions.

Steepest house prices: West Vancouver, B.C.

Want a home on this majestic coastline? It’ll cost you $1.46 million give or take a couple hundred thousand depending on the home. That’s high even for this wealthy city with high-paid residents. West Vancouver also ranks way down on our list for affordable housing.

Transportation: Sylvan Lake, Alta.

This city likes its cars. Sylvan Lake has the smallest percentage of residents that walk, cycle or take transit to work.

Weather: Langley, B.C.

Langley has beat out St. John’s, Newfoundland for the dubious distinction of having the worst weather in Canada. Langley sees more than 1.4 meters of rain per year spread out over 168 days on average. It’s not warm either. Residents get 163 days a year on average with a minimum of 20 degrees C.

Crime: Thompson, Man.

Thompson has overtaken North Battleford, Sask. as the most crime ridden city in the country with a crime rate of 46,753 per 100,000 and violent crime rate of 6,709 per 100,000.

Property tax: Halton Hills, Ont.

A city adjacent to a protected “Green Belt” means higher property taxes. How high? Nearly 3% of a home’s value.

Doctors: Brooks, Alta.

Despite efforts to attract new physicians, Brooks is still home to the fewest doctors per capita in Canada with just 0.44 MDs for every 1,000 residents.