Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday July 4 2015
10:41 PM EDT
2014-03-13 at 02:02

Middle of the pack

Thunder Bay ranks 109th of 201 communities in Money Sense magazine
Thunder Bay ranks 109th of 201 communities in Money Sense magazine's annual best places to live survey.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

Money Sense magazine doesn’t think too much of Thunder Bay.

But it could be worse.

The Northern Ontario census metropolitan area ranks 109th of 201 Canadian communities ranked in the periodical’s annual list of best places to live. That's down from 20th in 2011. 

St. Albert, Alta. was No. 1, followed by Calgary, Strathcona County, Alta., Ottawa and Burlington, Ont. Boucherville, Que, Oakville, Ont., Edmonton, Regina and Quebec rounded out the top 10.

The business magazine ranked cities in a variety of categories, including average income, discretionary income, unemployment, property taxes, average house prices, climate, crime and the number of doctors per capita.

Thunder Bay ranked middle of the pack or higher in several major categories.

The news didn't sit well with Mayor Keith Hobbs. 

"I'm getting sick and tired of these reports that are coming out," he said Thursday afternoon. 

The mayor questioned the magazine's numbers, pointing to the crime seversity index, housing prices and the city's walkability. 

"Four statistics that are totally wrong," Hobbs said. "Like the Chamber (of Commerce) report, I'm not giving it any credibility. What I'm seeing is $2.1 million in assessment growth last year and this year it's supposed to be the best on record. That doesn't tell me that we're diminishing. 

"We're going up in leaps and bounds." 

Hobbs added he heard from another magazine editor that the word on the street is that Thunder Bay has a lot going for it. 

"I guess it's who you talk to," the mayor said.

It's up to the city to do a good job promoting itself, Hobbs noted, in the face of reports like this. 

"The province has recognized that we're an up-and-coming community. We're going to be the capital of the mining. We are on the books as one of the premier city for infrastructure improvements and how we handle those ... People want to keep slamming the city? I've always said before, people that live here seem to love it. And we're attracting more people here. Kids are staying here. They're not going away. And we're attracting people from other cities. So take it how you want," he said. 

According to the study, the average annual household income was $75,358, with an average discretionary income amount of $38, 551. Wood Buffalo, Alta.’s residents earn $187,772 per household and have about $95,295 of discretionary income. Closer to home Sudbury households on average earn $82,966 and have $42,780 of discretionary income, whereas Kenora, the No. 105 city on the list, checks in at $80,973 and $42,973, respectively.

With an average household net worth of $267,786, the Lakehead ranked 123rd in Canada, well behind West Vancouver, whose average net worth is a staggering $1.63 million. Kenora’s net worth is slightly lower at $266,464, despite slightly lower average house prices.

In Thunder Bay the average home is worth $231,965, while in Kenora the number jumps to $239,812, about $700 less than Sudbury, Money Senses No. 70 community.

Average property tax paid was $1,637, while the homeowners could expect to pay about 2.17 per cent of their household income to the municipality. Those numbers are similar, but slightly better than Kenora, where homeowners can expect to pay $1,764 in property taxes each year, about 2.18 per cent of household income.

Average income tax paid by Thunder Bay residents was $8,694, the Ontario average. 

The city ranks in the bottom third when it comes to unemployment, which the magazine said hit 8.4 per cent last year, 145th best in Canada. However that number doesn't match figures provided by the federal government, which for last year remained below seven per cent. 

In quality of life categories, Money Sense says 5.7 per cent of the population walks to work, while 1.47 per cent bike and a further 2.93 per cent take public transit.

There’s encouraging news on the crime front, where the five-year change in the crime rate shows it dropped 17.46 per cent from 2008 to 2013, though the city is 27th on the violent crime severity index and 77th on the overall crime severity index with a 89.38 score.

Looking at climate, with 45.17 days below -20 C per year, Thunder Bay residents experience some of the most extreme weather in the country, the tally the 22nd most on the list. At a mean average daily temperature of 2.68 C, Thunder Bay is the 21st coldest community on the list.

Thunder Bay is the 23rd slowest growing city in Canada, with a 0 per cent population growth over the last five years – though the 22 cities ahead of them on the list experienced negative growth.

About 15.98 per cent of drivers in Thunder Bay owned cars with model years between 2011 and 2013, about half a percentage point less than Kenora. Of those cars, 0.65 per cent were considered luxury cars. Not surprisingly Wood Buffalo topped the former category at 28.41 per cent. Thunder Bay was in the bottom third.

The Money Sense chart shows about 4.89 per cent of the working population is employed in health care, 24th highest in Canada, while the 2.39 doctors per thousand was in the top half of Canadian communities measured.

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We've improved our comment system.
caesarjbasquitti says:
I have to agree with the Mayor on statistics, or at least some of his focus.

Statistics are 'half-truths'...of the second type discovered in Thunder Bay in 1989. Each may be true, however there are many other important truth to examine, and important conclusions, or cause and effect to be determined.

Some statistics are not quantified, and should be.

I might look at other factors.

What is discouraging is the wait times for specialists, the number of people without a family doctor, in a health system ranked 30th in the world; not great for Canada let alone Thunder Bay.

I would hope the city would set up an list of key statistics, that would be graphed on a 30 year time frame, that we the people can use.

Not to point fingers, remember the city mayor has only been in office a few years, but there have been policies and procedures in place municipally, provincially and federally that have been good, bad and good for this city.

Statistics are truths, not THE TRUTH. ;)
3/17/2014 11:13:03 PM
orca says:
Where can we find that property that costs only $1637 in property taxes? My 950 sqft house with 1 bathroom and no dining room costs 50% more than that. :(
3/17/2014 7:08:22 PM
Jon Powers says:

"If only those public sector workers paid income and property taxes, eh? Oh wait a minute...they're taxpayers too!"

What Ignorance!

When I was a Federal Governmnet Employee I Paid $0.00 in Taxes!


Taxpayers paid my salery and guess where those "Taxes" come from?

Money the Government paid me thats where!

$0.00 gain!

What the "Waterfront" did not work?!

Great Posts Everyone!
3/15/2014 9:10:52 AM
Dan dan says:
You know what will see us climb higher on this list? Not building an Events Centre. Surely the absence of such a facility will give us a higher quality of life!
3/15/2014 1:09:07 AM
SomeGuy says:
Not everyone can be number one. I hate to say it we are a middle of the road kind of city.
3/14/2014 8:30:49 AM
Watchful says:
Awe suck it up people, this city is what it is. Anything that that does not grow has a reason behind it, just look around
3/13/2014 7:22:11 PM
woggy says:
That 5 % unemployment rate that the city states we have, does that take into account ALL the people in thunder bay on social assistance ?
3/13/2014 6:15:34 PM
Me n My Opinion says:
The average for all the cities in the survey is $1,917.68. Thunder Bay's is listed at $1,637.00. Here's some interesting comparitors:

Whitby 2,966
Guelph 2,386
Toronto 1,909
London 1,942
Vaughan 3,166
Timmins 1,707
North Bay 1,634
SS Marie 1,546
Oshawa 2,132
Windsor 1,732
Cornwall 1,477

The sky isn't falling in on Thunder Bay.
3/13/2014 5:09:20 PM
James Gang says:
What is the average home value in those cities?

also with TBaytel, tbhydro supplementing our city coffers, how do you account for that?

or do you just have blinders on?
3/14/2014 8:57:31 AM
Me n My Opinion says:
Who cares what the average home value is? I don't care what my assessment is, what the value of my house is, or what the tax rate is. The only thing I care about is the size of the cheque I write to pay my taxes each year. If the value of the average house in Thunder Bay was a million dollars, or if it was ten thousand dollars, it wouldn't matter. The average homeowner in Thunder Bay would still pay $1,637/year to have our municipal services provided. The average homeowner in Vaughan pays 3,166 and in Oshawa, they pay 2,132 for theirs. It doesn't matter how much their houses are worth. What matters is the size of the tax cheque we/they write. Period. The assessment and tax rate are only used to figure out how much that payment will be, and if one goes up disproportionately, the other comes down to compensate.

This just demonstrates how wrong people are on this forum who complain that we have the highest taxes in the country. We don't. We're far from it.
3/14/2014 11:48:58 AM
smartguy83 says:
Anyone have an accurate ranking for the Property Tax section of the survey.

Before you answer please only respond with results of the survey.

I don't care what you were told or think based on other research. I also don't care about the recent report issued saying the City was overspending. Everyone knows taxes COULD be lower and Administration could be trimmed.
3/13/2014 4:08:47 PM
Sprague Street Superman says:
so what you want is to cherry pick information to form your conclusion?
3/13/2014 5:40:33 PM
jimmyboy says:
our population growth with those receiving Ontario Works and O.D.S.P have grown without question...therefore the list of 1,600 or so seeking affordable housing in the city...the downhill slide continues...
3/13/2014 2:50:54 PM
rollinghill24 says:
zero growth in five years?!!? When the public dollars tun out this city will shrivle like a worm in the sun. To bad nobody in charge sees it....DAMN THE TORPEDOES FULL STEAM AHEAD!!
3/13/2014 1:25:36 PM
ring of fire dude says:
I will wait for the economic survey from Mad Magazine .
3/13/2014 12:55:07 PM
young&concerned says:
How will "the nose" spin this?
3/13/2014 12:37:23 PM
young&concerned says:
0 per cent population growth over the last five years...obviously Money Sense magazine never made a trip to Thunder Bay or never did their homework. A drive down Memorial Ave, lunch at a fast food restaurant and a stop at at the Intercity Mall would have have skewed this percentage. Considering the source of the study, the, this type of magazine doing the study and the objectives of this study it was best they left these numbers out. So 0% growth is accurate but far from the truth!
3/13/2014 12:33:43 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
20 grand a year in private sector, 80 grand a year in govt...poof...magic...average salary is 50 grand...that' the numbers game they're playing here, folks...no govt job, best you leave.
3/13/2014 12:30:40 PM
spazz says:
I wasn't aware that it was a 1:1 ratio of government workers to private sector workers here in town. Thanks for that cracker-jack statistical work.
3/13/2014 2:08:52 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:

1,000's at the hospital, add TBaytel, L.U., Con College, Fed, Prov, 3,000+ at the city...this is a government welfare town, Sahib...any private companies left that hire big numbers? Nope. Nada, No-sirree...add the legions up.
3/13/2014 5:04:11 PM
humnchuck says:
If only those public sector workers paid income and property taxes, eh? Oh wait a minute...they're taxpayers too!
3/13/2014 9:44:11 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
And who pays them, so that they can pay those big taxes, huh...
3/14/2014 8:52:57 AM
spazz says:
Ok, let's say that each of the places you named has 1,000 people making 80k a year (which is ridiculous) and between the hospital and the city another 6,000. We now have 11,000 people making 80k a year of "government welfare" as you call it. (though putting that label on teachers and healthcare professionals is asinine)

Where are the other 39,000 people making 80k a year working? I'm just curious, as I would like to warm up my resume!

The problem with hyperbole is that you can't present it as factual and then get bent out of shape when someone calls you on it.
3/14/2014 1:51:46 PM
Marak says:
Our property taxes here are insane compared to other areas with no end in sight. Wonder how much that brought us up in the rankings...? :(
3/13/2014 11:48:13 AM
arjay says:
perhaps we should consider new younger People next election!! young Adults, not afraid to turf the Administrators, that are taxing us out of our hard earned money,to the point , people are leaving this Bush Hideaway!
3/13/2014 11:03:40 AM
Pandora says:
I have a 989 sq ft 2 bd rm bungalow from the early 50's, pretty average and I'm paying more than twice the average. I wish I was paying $1637 in property taxes.

3/13/2014 10:43:20 AM
Dockboy says:
What wasn't mentioned in the article is that per capita we eat more hamburgers,french fries and fried chicken for populations exceeding 100,000.
3/13/2014 10:27:39 AM
The Beaver..... says:
Money Sense says 5.7 per cent of the population walks to work, while 1.47 per cent bike and a further 2.93 per cent take public transit.
So do we need more Bike Lanes..???
3/13/2014 9:32:24 AM
smartguy83 says:
Exactly the reason we do need more bikelanes...I don't even own a bike nor do I plan to buy one based on the current city set up but making it better to travel the city will increase usage...common sense....
3/13/2014 4:04:10 PM
CM Punk says:
According to the study, the average annual household income was $75,358, with an average discretionary income amount of $38, 551.

That is a pretty high avg income and a high amount for saving or spending.
Which would make sense everyone is buying new SUVs, trucks and homes over 400k.

Perhaps the list is a reflection of the ever growing sunshine list and those under the Patti Hadju program who are worth 130k per year.

Love truthseekers comment and information, totally true.
Another foul up by our famous "spending" council.
3/13/2014 9:29:38 AM
smartguy83 says:
Not high income at all considering most households have 2 earners.
3/13/2014 4:03:05 PM
Eastender says:
$75,358.00 is not a lot of money for a houshold with, say, 2-21/2 kids. After mortgage/rent, groceries, heat, hydro, water, car pmt., income tax. I doubt that there is 38,551.00 discretionary income. I speak from experience, and I am a thrifty person.

At that wage today, I would not squander 200.00 for concert tickets for the two of us. That would be better spent on paying down the mortgage, or the credit card debt. But Hobbs thinks I should pay for his Event centre.
3/14/2014 11:13:38 PM
The Beaver..... says:
Thunder Bay is the 23rd slowest growing city in Canada, with a 0 per cent population growth over the last five years – though the 22 cities ahead of them on the list experienced negative growth.
So lets build this Events Center right away
3/13/2014 8:39:31 AM
truthseeker says:
Best Places to Live:

Thunder Bay Ranking:

2011-- ranked 20th
2012-- ranked 46th
2013-- ranked 92th
2014-- ranked 109th

look at the direction this council and city administration has thunder bay going in. At this rate thunder bay should rank last-spot #201- within 3 years.
3/13/2014 8:15:58 AM
Citizen Peace says:
This is totally irresponsible work from Roger's Money Sense. Money Sense should get the facts straight and apologize to the community. There must be someone at Money Sense magazine that has a political motivation against the current council.

That is the only reasonable explanation.



3/13/2014 2:21:38 PM
patti says:
The city will finally grow into the current century and we'll jump 50 ++ spots once the Event Center is built and the downtown/ marina district are booming.
3/13/2014 8:09:24 AM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
Yes we will just skyrocket up the list...people will be clamoring to see our 106 m. event center and then take in our 200m. splash pad...same pitch the business community used in the other communities that got sucked in by this approach...
3/13/2014 9:57:22 AM
patti says:
p.o.ed taxpayer

OK I'll bite....... after your nap, back up your statement with facts .... name one community. tick tock, tick tock ......
3/13/2014 10:57:31 AM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
Start with Kingston's arena...50 mil. they were promised the world avg. attendance at OHL games went from 2400 to 2700, well worth it...with the possible exception of London, which has a much greater draw base you cannot find one of these projects that have done anything but bleed money....do some research and you will see that the consultants all use the same lines and similar overinflated numbers to sell the project, big acts will not play in a venue this small...there are no empirical studies that show that shoving these facilities in downtown locations actually works. The consultants have only anecdotal reasons ie; "well this community did it or that community did it that way so it must be right". And as I have repeatedly stated I have no problem replacing the Gardens if it needs to be replaced, that can be done for 50 mil or under, the event center is a want and not a need...I expected more from you than to use the age card...shame on you..
3/13/2014 2:16:18 PM
rob20 says:
Spoken like a brainwashed sheep
3/13/2014 10:45:49 AM
Cletus Van Damme says:
If they looked at the real reason so many want out of here, then the ranking would have been at rock bottom.
3/13/2014 7:40:21 AM
tannharr says:
I don't know of many that want to leave. I just moved back a few months ago after being way for 4 years. Absolutely glad to be back! So much good has happened to Thunder Bay in the short 4 years I've been away. Thunder Bay should be ranked much higher than many of the cities above them. For good reason!
3/14/2014 12:01:35 PM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
I guess the mayor will be wanting an apology from this magazine since it shows that the population of the city has had 0 population growth in the last 5 years which is completely opposite of what he is selling.
3/13/2014 6:13:10 AM
nvjgu says:
Oh, I don't remember an 8.4% employment rate last year. Government is telling everybody it's 5.5, 4.8, It's more like %13 plus. BDO Dunwoody has it pegged higher if Im not mistaken.
3/13/2014 6:13:04 AM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
There are at least 4 different methods in common use to calculate the 'unemployment rate'. Unless they specify which method they use, which you will not see in an article like this, it's impossible to make direct comparisons from report to report.
3/13/2014 9:08:43 AM
Eastender says:
Obviously Hobbs and his cronies are in self denial.
He denied the Chamber of Commerce report.
He's denying the Money Sense Magazine rating.
Hes been denying what every taxpayer in this city knows to be true regarding the obvious insanity of proceeding with the event centre.
3/14/2014 10:54:57 PM
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