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10 Worst Places to Live in Canada: Part 7, Bay Roberts, Newfoundland

2 January 2013

When it comes to the worst places to live in Canada, cities and towns can fall into two categories. Towns that are well off economically, but lack in things such as amenities or experience a high crime rate; or those that are just bad to live in overall – economically, and socially. Unfortunately when it comes to Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, this small town falls into the latter category. And just two years ago, after being placed on the very bottom of MoneySense’s worst places to live in Canada, it was also known as “Canada’s armpit.” Fortunately for Bay Roberts and its residents, scoring so low on that list was one of the best things to ever happen to it.

Being placed 179th out of 180 didn’t do much to improve the economic situation in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland. This very small town that sits just 90 kilometres of Newfoundland’s very prosperous St. John’s on the Avalon Peninsula, still suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and very low incomes. The average household income is only $71,000, which is very low when compared to both other parts of the country, as well as other regions within Newfoundland. Discretionary income is also very low when compared to other parts of Canada, sitting at just 23 per cent.

Not surprisingly, population growth in Bay Roberts has also been at a snail’s pace over the past decade or more. The population has hovered right around 5,000 for nearly as long as the town has been incorporated; and that’s not surprising, seeing as how there simply aren’t a lot of jobs in the area – and high-paying ones are even harder to come by.

But before MoneySense’s list was published, the city’s tourism website hadn’t even been updated since 2008 – nearly four years before the list was released. This shows that not only are there a great deal of tourists stopping in to see what Bay Roberts had to offer, but that the town also wasn’t making an active effort in generating interest, or profits, into the town.

With data like this, it’s very easy to picture Bay Roberts, Newfoundland as one of the most dismal and dreary places to live in Canada. But even when they were seeing some of their biggest economic lows, the climate in Bay Roberts has always been mild when compared to the rest of the country. And that’s saying a lot when you consider the temperatures that plunge below freezing, particularly in other parts of Atlantic Canada. While Bay Roberts still see a very large amount of snow throughout the winter months, temperatures are typically nice and temperate.

It’s also interesting to note that unlike the other cities that sat at the bottom of MoneySense’s list, Bay Roberts had among them the lowest crime rate. Crime has never been a large problem in Bay Roberts and in fact, this town enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the entire country.

The economic statistics have remained largely unchanged throughout the years in Bay Roberts, but what the town has been able to control and accomplish since the release of MoneySense’s list is truly remarkable.

First, they started with their website. Travel over to the official Bay Roberts website, and you’ll see that it’s been updated! And we’re not just talking a different copyright insignia at the bottom; you’ll find listings of events being held throughout the town, as well as what you can do to keep the town clean. That’s important, as the town is the current holder of the Tidy Town Award.

Among those events you’ll find things such as the Kraft 10 in 10 Celebration Tour. This is an annual contest, of which the first was held this past summer, that brings the community together and celebrates the accomplishments of local athletes. This began entirely as a community project, and was the inspiration of the town being placed at the bottom of the pack on MoneySense’s list.

And what little the town can do for itself economically, it’s doing that too. There has recently been a surge of both residential and commercial real estate in the area, which has supplied construction jobs, as well as given beautiful homes to residents, both old and new. A business park has also been constructed in the area, which has also supplied jobs in many different industries, many of which come with those high-paying salaries that employees have been looking for.

Bay Roberts, Newfoundland may have once been one of the most dreary places to live in the country – although we’ll stop short of calling it an armpit. But looking back at this small town through the years, it’s clear to see that Bay Roberts also is also one of the biggest examples of hope and the drive Canadians bestow. And given a few more years, and the continued ambition the community currently holds, it may not be long before Bay Roberts turns things around and gets themselves placed at the top of the best places to live in Canada!

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