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The commodity boom is rewriting the list of the “haves” and “have-nots” in Canada. Unlike in the U.S., where the highest per capita incomes tend to be found in and around the biggest metropolitan centres, Toronto is nowhere near the top of Canada’s rank of wealthiest urban areas, while Montreal and Vancouver don’t even make the cut. Small and mid-sized cities are clearly winning the day.
The biggest dots on our map are, of course, in Alberta, with tiny Fort McMurray, right next to the Athabasca oil sands, topping the charts. It may not legally be a “city”—the former fur-trading post was granted the title in 1980 only to lose it 15 years later—but it sure shows all the symptoms of a boomtown. A single family home in the community of 61,000—where daylight lasts as little as seven hours in the dead of winter—cost upwards of $750,000 on average in November. That’s even more than in downtown Toronto, where the going price last month was around $740,000.
One needn’t look much further east to find more stories of vertiginous growth, happy realtors and chronic labour shortages. Welcome to Saskatchewan, the only province planning to run a budget surplus this fiscal year. The resource boom that started a decade ago is now prominently on display in Regina and Saskatoon, which boast, respectively, the lowest unemployment and highest population growth rates of any metropolitan area in Canada.
The title of hottest real estate market in 2013 will likely belong to St. John’s, however. RE/MAX sees home prices in the Nfld. capital climbing six per cent next year, faster than anywhere else and bucking the trend in Vancouver and Toronto, where the optimists are now predicting a soft landing rather than a crash. Sure, St. John’s still has a way to go to reach the top of our chart but the city is already neck-and-neck with Calgary and Edmonton in terms of employment growth. If the current trend holds up, who knows, St. John’s could soon leave Toronto in the dust.
MAP: Hover over the dots on the map to view more information about cities and per capita income and to see the tool bar in the upper right-hand corner. You can also zoom-in by double-clicking on the map. To grab and move the map, press SHIFT and click. Click on the “home” symbol to restore the original settings.
BAR CHART: Click on the symbol next to “Per capita income,” below the chart, to rearrange it from the lowest to the highest per capita income. Click again to order it alphabetically.
Use the “Province” tool bar on the right to view select provinces on both the map and the bar chart.
*Calculations: Jason Kirby. Visualization and text: Erica Alini.