Waterloo ranked top city for migrants

Photo by Kha Vo

Photo by Kha Vo

The Conference Board of Canada released a report in September that ranked the top 50 Canadian cities that appeal to newcomers. Waterloo ranked as the top city that is considered attractive to migrants.

The ranking was based off of seven categories: economy, education, innovation, environment, housing, society and healthcare. Within each of these seven categories, there are 43 indicators that influence the ranking.

Each city received a letter grade that determines their ranking in each category. Waterloo received an overall ‘A’ grade and is considered to have a strong magnetic pull toward migrants.

According to Alan Arcand, associate director of the centre for municipal studies at the Conference Board of Canada, there are a couple major indicators that constitute the seven categories, including GDP per capita, education level over the population, water usage and air quality, business and educational attainment, affordable housing, doctors and hospital beds per capita and rates of poverty, crime and gender equality.

After Waterloo, Calgary ranked as the next most attractive city to migrants, followed by Ottawa, Richmond Hill, Vancouver and St. John’s.

Arcand explained that Waterloo received the highest grades in categories of education, innovation, economy and housing.

“Not only is the city’s population highly educated, but it is educated in innovative sectors like science, technology and math,” said Arcand.
Justin McFadden, executive director of economic development at the City of Waterloo, agreed with Arcand.

“The universities are probably the biggest game-changer,” said McFadden. “The educational institutions are sort of at the core, and then all of the economic and other developments can happen there.”

There are three post-secondary institutions in Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and Conestoga College. According to Arcand, individuals who graduate from the universities tend to remain in the city. This translates over to the proliferating technology sector within the region.

“Its economy has done fairly well in recent years, not as well as cities out west, but enough to rank near the top,” he explained.

However, Waterloo ranked extremely low in the healthcare category. Nearby cities Kitchener and Cambridge have hospitals, but Waterloo is only one out of two cities on the list without a hospital..

Additionally, Waterloo finished on the lower end of the social category, with Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver ranking at the top. Travel to work by public, transit, walking or cycling was graded low in Waterloo because most of Waterloo’s residents drive to work.

Despite this, income equality ranks high. There is also reduced drug crime in the Waterloo.

“[There is] tremendous quality of life and tremendous opportunity,” said McFadden.

Waterloo also has an elevated rate of access to amenities and jobs within the city.

“I think it is a great place to raise a family,” said McFadden. “It is a very safe place to live, and it is a big enough city that there is still all kinds of new and interesting things happening. You can still get to know people. You don’t have to deal with traffic.”

The cost of living in Waterloo is about half of what it is in Toronto, allowing residents to experience an affordable lifestyle.

“Obviously I think it is terrific… Certainly it is a great city, but it reaffirms all the work we are doing here,” McFadden said.

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