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10 Worst Cities to Live in Canada: Part 5, North Battleford

31 December 2012

North Battleford is really a mixed bag when it comes to the standards and costs of living. It has its good and its bad, just like every other city in Canada; but in North Battleford these contrasts come at extremes.

North Battleford is a very small town of only 13,888 people. Unlike other small towns such as Niagara-On-The-Lake in Ontario and Canmore in Alberta however, North Battleford has not built itself up into a historic little village, or a quaint stop where tourists like to visit. Instead there isn’t really much to do, and the businesses that are there such as Walmart, are few and far between. Because North Battleford has the third largest aboriginal population in the province, many of the businesses are also run by the reserve. But if you’re looking for things to do in North Battleford, most people recommend driving to Saskatoon or Edmonton, both a couple of hours away.

The average household income in North Battleford is also one of the lowest in the country, standing at just $24,048. That may be because North Battleford’s unemployment rate is about on par with the country’s, at 7.4 per cent.

North Battleford does have a few things going for it, however. If you’re looking for affordable real estate, North Battleford is definitely the place to be! The average home price is below $200,000; and the average resale home goes for about $176,850. The city has a vacancy rate of 1 per cent; and those rental units have an average rent of $693 – something that other people around the country are begging for.

But going against any positives that North Battleford has going for it is the crime that this city sees. In fact, North Battleford has the most crime in the entire country. RCMP Sgt. Neil Tremblay says that this is largely due to the lack of unemployment and resources in the area. Drugs and gangs have long since been problems here, and the crime ranges from petty thefts to very violent crimes.

Fortunately, even though the crime levels are still high, they’re starting to drop. Saskatchewan is becoming a very booming province, with mining now being as nearly as big a resource as agricultural. This economic boom has started to flow into North Battleford more than in years past, and Sgt. Tremblay says that he’s seen crime drop significantly from its highest level it sat at in 2010.

In addition to just increasing resources, Sgt. Tremblay says that it’s due to the measures the city is taking that crime is start to drop. Tightening probation rules, introducing a mentorship program, and increasing camaraderie between the police and the city’s youth have all helped, he says.

“We’ve got to try and find ways to reach them. It’s working. You can see that it’s working.”

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