Small Canadian Towns Hope to Replace City Migrators With New Immigrants


Although Canadian cities are booming, it is coming at a price, with small Canadian towns getting the bad end of the bargain. In fact, many small towns and rural counties are looking towards the promise of immigrants in order to boost their local economy and breathe life back into their communities.

Small Canadian Towns Plan to Attract New Immigrants

A census from 2011 showed that 35 per cent of the Canadian population now resides in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – and a large portion of that number is due to immigration. Now smaller towns and counties are hopeful that newcomers will also bring a much-needed boost to their local communities, too.

More Opportunities for Immigrants

One of these counties is Simcoe County in Ontario, which has used federal funding to develop a website aimed at immigrants who are either already living in the area, or who are interested in making the move north of Toronto in order to take advantage of great benefits such as cheaper property, more job opportunities, or opportunities for new business and entrepreneurship.

Sandra Lee, project manager of Simcoe’s local immigration partnership, said: “Overall immigration is important. By 2031, the natural increase in Simcoe County is only 44 residents.”

Lee recently participated in a panel at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario‘s annual conference, sharing insight in various methods that have worked – and some that haven’t – in her area. Immigration is being seen as the key to some of rural Canada’s existing demographic challenges, which is why financial emphasis is being placed upon such panels by the provincial rural affairs ministry.

Per year, Simcoe welcomes around 650 ‘direct landing’ immigrants – those who relocate directly to Ontario county from their homeland. To gain perspective, a total of 51 per cent of those living in Toronto were born outside of Canada, and around 74 per cent of Canada’s new immigrants choose to reside in big cities.

However, according to Lee, an increasing number of those who choose to settle in big cities end up moving to more rural areas because of cheaper properties and land.

A Win-win Situation

Rural areas have already begun to see the benefits that immigrants can bring, with the population of new immigrants starting to move further out. In turn, many small communities are embracing the diversity that new immigrants can bring – it’s a win-win situation.

One example of this is Peel Region; Mississauga was no stranger to new Canadian immigrants, but over the past two decades Brampton (a town further north) has also experienced a growth spurt because of an influx of new Canadians, who are now beginning to spread even further out.

Alberta is one urban municipality looking towards new immigrants to fill current gaps migrants have left when relocating to the big cities. A provincial government report backing immigration was recently released stating that without new residents, Alberta’s economic growth could in fact be “seriously hampered.”

However, with the previous successes in the west, locals are hopeful that immigrants are the answer.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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