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10 Worst Places to Live in Canada: Part 11, Thetford Mines, Quebec

6 January 2013

Yesterday we talked about Leamington, Ontario being ranked as one of the worst places to live due to the lack of public transit in the area. We were doubtful and so, we did some research and found out whether or not it was really all that bad. Turns out, the lack of transit really is that bad in Leamington. That’s why today, when it was time to research the last city on our list – Thetford Mines, Quebec – we were once again dubious of the reasons MoneySense gave. The magazine dubbed Thetford Mines as one of the worst places to live because of the pollution here. And once again, they’re right.

When you take a quick first glance at Thetford Mines’ economical situation, it looks like it might just be a swell place to live – and the residents will certainly tell you there’s nothing to worry about. Here the average household income stands at $50,732, fairly high when you consider that the national average is somewhere around $65,000; and other cities on our “worst places to live” list have average household incomes as low as $20,000.

Average home prices in the area are also relatively low, to complement those higher incomes, with the average home standing at about $142,700 on the marketplace. Most people in Thetford Mines also work, with a large majority of them working at the employer for which the town was named – Thetford Mines. And, with all the positive economical statistics coming out of this area, it’s this employer that is the biggest problem. And that could even be harming its residents, especially those that actually work within the mines.

The Thetford Mines dig for and find chrysotile – the nice name given to a very bad thing, asbestos. This asbestos isn’t as deadly as some other types, but it’s still known to be a carcinogen that can cause some pretty deadly diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and many other forms of cancer. Canada has banned the use of asbestos in schools and homes, after using it for years as insulation. That hasn’t hurt Thetford Mines’ business though, as they largely export their asbestos to areas such as southeast Asia, the Middle East, and South and Central America.

But Thetford Mines residents aren’t worried. Many of them say that residents in Thetford Mines still live to be 80, 90, and 100 years old; and lament that this wouldn’t be possible if the city was as contaminated as people believe. Many residents also liken it to smoking, saying that some individuals are simply more vulnerable to the effects of asbestos than others.

We don’t think you should chance it. The fact that Thetford Mines is still in operation today, and that their soil and surrounding areas of land are going to be contaminated, are facts that simply cannot be refuted. The material the mines are digging for is simply dangerous. And we believe that because of that, MoneySense was correct for placing this as the first, very worst place to live in the country.

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