Home » Uncategorized » The worst cities? — Don’t be so quick to judge! — Part 1: Introduction (#157)

The worst cities? — Don’t be so quick to judge! — Part 1: Introduction (#157)

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I skipped a few days of posts while I was out of the country (I just arrived back to Canada).  I’ll hash out a few posts to make up for it (on a topic I have wanted to write for quite some time).

What would be Québec’s supposed « worst » city to live in?   And what are my thoughts regarding this ranking?   Would you like to know a bit more so you can make up your own mind?   I will say upfront that if the “worst” truly is the worst (and I’m not convinced it is), then we’re doing pretty good!!

Every year, the Canadian magazine “MoneySense” puts out a list of the 201 best / worst Canadian cities to live in (you city is arguably the best if you’re in the top spot, or the worst if you’re in the bottom spot).

The rankings come out every March, therefore the 2015/2016 rankings have not come out yet. However, the 2014/2015 held some surprises for me – considering I personally know many of the cities on the list (I would have ranked some places higher, but in other cases I would have ranked some places lower).

Before we go further and look at the specific cities, I’d like to mention a few points:

  • The legal definition of the “city” varies from province-to-province (sometimes you have to meet a minimum population to be considered a city). Therefore, the “cities” in this ranking list vary from 12,000 inhabitants, to millions.
  • The ranking is for the best places to “live” (which is quite different than the best cities to “visit”). The rankings do not take into consideration tourist attractions.
  • Likewise, scenery is not taken into consideration. Example: The fact that Canmore, Alberta is physically set in one of Canada’s most breathtaking sceneries counts for absolutely nothing for this ranking.  Canmore’s scenery, outdoors lifestyle, and proximity to a large city (Calgary) are arguably its most attractive features. But its rapid growth has resulted in other issues (higher prices, infrastructure pressures, etc), and thus it doesn’t rank any higher than 54th place – whereas I would have personally ranked it in the top 10 in Canada (Canmore, incidentally, is one of Alberta’s most Francophone cities with 3000 Francophones out of 12,000. Here is a video, in French, about Canmore and it’s Francophone community https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOI9hPLSnNA).

Factors which MoneySense did take into account when they compiled their ranking included:

  • Access to medical care (example: a shortage of doctors, medical facilities, etc.),
  • Crime rates,
  • Good public transportation (example: would you have difficulty getting around without a vehicle, or if you were challenged with a disability?)
  • Nice weather (example: do you have to endure an average of -10C for 8 out of 12 months?   Hence why we will never see “Alert” at the North Pole figure in the rankings), or does it rain 5 out of 7 days, every single week of the year? Thus, poor rankings for Prince Rupert, B.C.).
  • Affordability: MoneySense makes the point of stating they placed the emphasis on affordability, since, for many families, this is a very important point for quality of life and where to choose to live.  Personally, I could easily argue with MoneySense regarding how much weight “affordability” should be accorded. If this is one of the most important considerations for how families chose to live, then why the heck do we see hundreds of thousands of immigrants as well as Canadians from elsewhere flocking to cities like Vancouver and Toronto – arguably Canada’s most unaffordable cities, not only in Canada, but in the entire world!! And yet they flock to these cities despite lower employment prospects, terrible transportation and life-convenience factors, and a plethora of other issues.  Hence, my point is that much of a person’s choices come down to individual’s “perceptions”. Sometimes those perceptions are not correct – which is why we see immigrants and other Canadians come to Vancouver and Toronto, stay for a few years, and then pack their bags and move elsewhere once they realize their preconceived notions did not reflect reality.  Or they chose to stay because other factors, not related to affordability, are more important to them other than the cost of living).
  • Other factors MoneySense considered are themselves components of the “affordability” factor:  Are housing prices well-proportioned to a community’s income levels and employment rates?  Are local prices less or more affordable compared to other cities?  And can a person’s ease of finding good employment overcome affordability challenges
  • Tying into the above, how long would it take to pay off a home based on current salaries?
  • What are property taxes like?

I agree that the above are important considerations. But there are many other factors which were not taken into account in the ratings, which people consider when deciding where to

  • raise a family,
  • start and run a business,
  • enjoy sports or hobbies,
  • become involved in volunteer and community activities (which certainly help to acclimatize and make friends),
  • have ample access to all the services to live comfortably,
  • and most importantly, to simply enjoy life.

I want to introduce you to a couple of “underdogs” in this list, and to relate these underdogs to “other intangible” factors I just mentioned. I’ll make some comparisons, use some of my own experiences as references, and present a little bit of the other side of the story.

If you’ve never been to Québec before (or if your Québec experiences have mostly revolved around its major cities), these next posts will help you to learn a little bit more about the province, communities beyond its larger cities, and matters which are often overlooked by most people when they tend to think of Québec.  Hopefully you’ll come to view Québec from a different angle.  (In a somewhat related fashion, I received emails from Francophones after I published the post on my own hometown, Vegreville, Alberta.  The general feedback was that people in Québec often forget – or don’t even realize – that Alberta is much more than just Edmonton or Calgary… so hopefully you’ll come to the same realization about Québec after these next few posts).

Before we take a closer look at specific communities, I will give you the rankings.

The complete 2014/2015 Canadian rankings (including Québec’s cities) can be found at MoneySense’s website here: http://www.moneysense.ca/canadas-best-places-to-live-2014-full-ranking

MoneySense’s Québec specific rankings are as follows (from best to worst):

  1. Boucherville — (#6 rank in Canadian total)
  2. Québec City —- (#10 rank in Canadian total)
  3. Lévis — (#12 rank in Canadian total)
  4. Gatineau — (#15 rank in Canadian total)
  5. Rimouski — (#18 rank in Canadian total)
  6. Repentigny — (#20 rank in Canadian total)
  7. Blainville — (#21 rank in Canadian total)
  8. Brossard — (#38 rank in Canadian total)
  9. St-Georges — (#46 rank in Canadian total)
  10. Saint-Hyacinthe — (#52 rank in Canadian total
  11. Terrebonne — (#53 rank in Canadian total)
  12. Victoriaville — (#57 rank in Canadian total)
  13. Sherbrooke — (#60 rank in Canadian total)
  14. Châteauguay — (#62 rank in Canadian total)
  15. Saint-Eustache — (#68 rank in Canadian total)
  16. Laval — (#69 rank in Canadian total)
  17. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (#82 rank in Canadian total)
  18. Joliette — (#83 rank in Canadian total)
  19. Rivière-du-Loup — (#86 rank in Canadian total)
  20. Sorel-Tracy — (#95 rank in Canadian total)
  21. Trois-Rivières — (#101 rank in Canadian total)
  22. Baie-Comeau — (#104 rank in Canadian total)
  23. Granby — (#115 rank in Canadian total)
  24. Dollar-Des-Ormeaux — (#117 rank in Canadian total)
  25. Rouyn-Noranda — (#118 rank in Canadian total)
  26. Longueuil — (#127 rank in Canadian total)
  27. Saint-Jérôme — (#140 rank in Canadian total)
  28. Mascouche — (#142 rank in Canadian total)
  29. Saguenay — (#151 rank in Canadian total)
  30. Mirabel — (#152 rank in Canadian total)
  31. Alma — (#154 rank in Canadian total)
  32. Thetford Mines — (#155 rank in Canadian total)
  33. Drummondville — (#156 rank in Canadian total)
  34. Sept-Îles — (#157 rank in Canadian total)
  35. Cowansville — (#161 rank in Canadian total)
  36. Amos — (#163 rank in Canadian total)
  37. Val-d’Or — (#167 rank in Canadian total)
  38. Montréal — (#169 rank in Canadian total)
  39. Salaberry-de-Valleyfield — (#176 rank in Canadian total)
  40. Shawinigan — (#192 rank in Canadian total)
  41. Matane — (#197 rank in Canadian total)
  42. Lachute — (#199 rank in Canadian total)
  43. Dolbeau-Mastissini — (#200 rank in Canadian total)

As you can see, the above ranked cities, when placed on a map of Québec, are quite spread quite far and wide across the entire province.


What I find particularly interesting about these rankings is that the Québec cities occupy slightly less than ¼ of Canada’s overall top 201 rankings.  Québec’s population is also slightly less than ¼ of Canada’s overall population. Thus, on the whole, this shows that Québec’s cities generally fall within the Canadian “average” with respect to what constitutes the spread of Canada’s best & worst cities (we would have a problem if Québec’s cities only constituted 1/8th or 1/6th of Canada’s 201 best cities).

This is also an important point to emphasize from the point of view of tearing down pre-conceived notions relating to the Two Solitudes:  Québec’s cities are very much representative of what Canadian cities are as a whole, coast-to-coast;  No worse, no better — and very representative in terms of affordability, crime, medical care and weather.  Across the country, major factors which determine our lifestyles are quite similar.  When it comes down to the basics of how we live (which directly relates to who we are as a people), the differences are not so different after all. 🙂

Now that we have laid out the rankings, the next post will introduce you to the lowest-ranked city: Dolbeau-Mistassini. You’ll likely learn about a region of Québec you may have never otherwise known – and you’ll likely find much in common with other areas of the country you may also come from.



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