Best_Places-Banner-600x100

Best_Places_for_Business-I_Sam_Island-August_2015-600x400

Illustration: Sam Island

How do you go about picking the country’s best place to do business? Every company will have its own criteria for a desirable location, after all. A retail outlet dependent on a local clientele will do best in a community with high incomes and a rising population. An exporter, by contrast, will favour cost advantages such as cheap space and power. Organizations requiring specialized skills may need to be near a big city or university, or offer an appealing lifestyle. All enterprises, though, benefit from access to appropriately qualified workers, moderate taxation and a minimum of red tape.

Our Best Places for Business survey highlights the Canadian cities that strike an optimal balance between prosperous markets, reasonable costs and business-friendly taxation and regulation. Using a combination of public and proprietary market data and survey responses from some 60 municipalities with populations of 15,000 or more, we awarded each city scores on factors such as the cost of office space, the speed of processing a building permit and the percentage of residents holding a university degree.

In addition to listing the overall winners, we’ve broken out sub-lists of the Most Affordable cities (those with the lowest costs, such as rents and electricity), the Most Business-Friendly (those with amenable local government) and the Most Lucrative (which have well-off and growing populations). The chart-toppers are just the start, though. For business owners and managers looking for the next place to hang out their shingle—or hold their existing location(s) up to comparative scrutiny—we’ve collected a wealth of information on 219 communities, which you can access here.

Here are Canada’s Top 25 Best Places for Business in 2016:

1-Grande_Prairie_AB-Canada_Day-P_William_Vavrek-Pickup-600x400

Photo: William Vavrek/City of Grande Prairie

1. Grande Prairie, Alta.

Population: 67,993 Annualized population growth: 3.41% Avg. household income: $116,401
Avg. general lease rate: $17.80 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 77.89%

Why you should locate there: “Grande Prairie’s trading area of over 280,000 provides exceptional opportunities”

2-Edmonton_AB-Canada_Day_2013-P_George_Rose-GettyImagesNews_173147614-600x400.jpg

Photo: George Rose/Getty Images News

2. Edmonton, Alta.

Population: 961,016 Annualized population growth: 2.59% Avg. household income: $102,954
Avg. general lease rate: $25.44 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 65.74%

Why you should locate there: “Take a risk in a city that has your back: Edmonton supports innovation”

3-Saskatoon_SK-P_Dougali_Photography-iStock_42608864-600x400.jpg

Photo: iStock

3. Saskatoon, Sask.

Population: 306,794 Annualized population growth: 2.58% Avg. household income: $101,628
Avg. general lease rate: $22.40 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 69.08%

Why you should locate there: “Saskatoon provides an affordable lifestyle and cost competitive business environment”

4-Lethbridge_AB-P_Bill_Graveland-CP_10927522-600x400.jpg

Photo: Bill Graveland/CP

4. Lethbridge, Alta.

Population: 119,995 Annualized population growth: 1.79% Avg. household income: $86,514
Avg. general lease rate: $19.28 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 70.5%

Why you should locate there: “Lethbridge boasts an entrepreneurial, integrated science and engineering environment and plenty of food expertise”

5-High_River_AB-Canadian_Hot_Air_Balloon_Championships_2013-CP_05088467-600x400.jpg

Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP

5. High River, Alta.

Population: 15,984 Annualized population growth: 3.56% Avg. household income: $90,732
Avg. general lease rate: $21.82 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 68.72%

Why you should locate there: “Canada’s freshest downtown plus a workforce filled with ingenuity equals nothing but possibility”

6-Winnipeg_MB-P_IanChrisGraham-iStock_74937033-600x400.jpg

Photo: iStock

6. Winnipeg, Man.

Population: 796,364 Annualized population growth: 1.32% Avg. household income: $85,562
Avg. general lease rate: $20.81 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 66.26%

Why you should locate there: “Winnipeg ranks No. 1 as the lowest-cost location for select businesses in the U.S. and Canada.”

7-Whitby_ON-2011-P_Tara_Walton-Toronto_Star-GettyImages_165456529-600x400.jpg

Photo: Tara Walton/Toronto Star/Getty

7. Whitby, Ont.

Population: 133,973 Annualized population growth: 1.29% Avg. household income: $111,057
Avg. general lease rate: $21.09 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 67.09%

Why you should locate there: “Location, location, location—come to the crossroads”

8-Vaughan_ON-Leviathan_Canadas_Wonderland_2014-P_Bukharova-iStock_65947579-600x400.jpg

Photo: iStock

8. Vaughan, Ont.

Population: 322,525 Annualized population growth: 1.68% Avg. household income: $120,631
Avg. general lease rate: $18.33 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 61.29%

Why you should locate there: “Vaughan is home to the Vaughan International Commercialization Centre, helping local small- and medium- sized enterprises adapt technology from abroad for local application, and helping local companies prepare products for export”

9-Moose_Jaw_SK-Snowbirds_431_Air_Demonstration_Squadron_2010-P_Troy_Fleece-CP_9622232-600x400.jpg

Photo: Troy Fleece/CP

9. Moose Jaw, Sask.

Population: 36,976 Annualized population growth: 0.90% Avg. household income: $86,634
Avg. general lease rate: $21.33 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 74.72%

Why you should locate there: “Moose Jaw is #2 among the Top 15 Small Cities in Canada to Live In”

10-Burlington_ON-Sound_of_Music_Festival_2012-P_Bsomf-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: Psomf/Wikimedia

10. Burlington, Ont.

Population: 192,294 Annualized population growth: 1.23% Avg. household income: $111,527
Avg. general lease rate: $21.94 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 64.93%

Why you should locate there: “For the fourth consecutive year, MoneySense named Burlington the #1 mid-sized city to live in”

11-Joliette_QC-Centre_Ville_2009-P_SDCJ-PD-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: SDCJ/Wikimedia

11. Joliette, Que.

Population: 50,480 Annualized population growth: 1.29% Avg. household income: $59,595
Avg. general lease rate: $17.87 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.9% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 73.43%

Why you should locate there: “Labor in Joliette is available and qualified, and the geographical position of the city is ideal”

12-Halifax_NS-Tall_Ships_Festival_2012-P_PaulMcKinnon-iStock_21070351-600x400.jpg

Photo: iStock

12. Halifax, N.S.

Population: 416,070 Annualized population growth: 0.67% Avg. household income: $81,627
Avg. general lease rate: $27.12 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 31.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 65.26%

Why you should locate there: “Halifax offers TLC: talent, location, and cost”

13-Chatham_Kent_ON-P_P199-CC_SA-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: P199/Wikimedia

13. Chatham-Kent, Ont.

Population: 106,115 Annualized population growth: -0.11% Avg. household income: $70,048
Avg. general lease rate: $9.13 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 67.18%

Why you should locate there: “Prices in Chatham-Kent, Ont. remain the most affordable in Ontario”

14-Granby_QC-2008-P_Pierre_Bona-CC_SA-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: Pierre Bona/Wikimedia

14. Granby, Que.

Population: 80,425 Annualized population growth: 0.70% Avg. household income: $65,587
Avg. general lease rate: $10.66 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.9% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 68.67%

Why you should locate there: “Granby is the most important industrial city in Quebec”

15-Squamish_BC-Music_Festival_2014-P_Christine_Rondeau-CC_A-14940466082_f8476001da_z-600x400

Photo: Christine Rondeau/Flickr

15. Squamish, B.C.

Population: 20,137 Annualized population growth: 2.25% Avg. household income: $96,569
Avg. general lease rate: $19.13 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 60.02%

Why you should locate there: “The quality of life, vibrant outdoor community, and strong entrepreneurial spirit”

16-Barrie_ON-Centennial_Park_2015-P_Amanda_N_Sherington-CC_A-Flickr_20652556062_fa7e410c9d_z-600x400

Photo: Amanda N. Sherington/Flickr

16. Barrie, Ont.

Population: 205,572 Annualized population growth: 1.30% Avg. household income: $91,565
Avg. general lease rate: $20.99 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 65.64%

Why you should locate there: “Barrie has the second=lowest business costs in the northeast U.S. and central Canada according to KPMG”

17-Vancouver_BC-P_Shinsuke_Ikegame-CC_A-Flickr_15013843145_82daa5fea0_z-600x400

Photo: Shinsuke Ikegame/Flickr

17. Vancouver, B.C.

Population: 657,146 Annualized population growth: 1.11% Avg. household income: $86,099
Avg. general lease rate: $41.03 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 63.21%

Why you should locate there: “Vancouver is Canada’s most innovative, creative and sustainable community”

18-Spruce_Grove_AB-Grain_Elevator_2012-P_Wilson_Hui-CC_A-Flickr_10100112966_266a31c06c_z-600x400

Photo: Wilson Hui/Flickr

18. Spruce Grove, Alta.

Population: 31,612 Annualized population growth: 3.13% Avg. household income: $122,100
Avg. general lease rate: $23.76 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 27.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 78.83%

Why you should locate there: “Spruce Grove is within Edmonton Capital Region, offering quick access to major routes and attractive industrial land prices”

19-St_Johns_NL-Pilots_Hill_Road-P_Paul_B_Toman-CC_A-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: Paul B. Toman/Wikimedia

19. St. John’s, Nfld.

Population: 209,555 Annualized population growth: 0.73% Avg. household income: $88,185
Avg. general lease rate: $33.40 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 30.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 64.29%

Why you should locate there: “St. John’s has a uniqueness and vibe that makes the city different and distinct”

20-Richmond_BC-Canberry_Display-P_popejon2-CC_A-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: popejon2/Wikimedia

20. Richmond, B.C.

Population: 207,549 Annualized population growth: 1.28% Avg. household income: $85,117
Avg. general lease rate: $23.12 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 68.74%

Why you should locate there: “Richmond is the gateway city to Asia-Pacific, with Canada’s largest port, the best airport in North America, and highway access”

21-Milton_ON-Main_Street_2005-P_Kevin_Van_Paassen-GNM-CP_01853367-600x400.jpg

Photo: Kevin Van Paassen/Globe and Mail/CP

21. Milton, Ont.

Population: 99,698 Annualized population growth: 2.66% Avg. household income: $115,327
Avg. general lease rate: $26.23 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 65.55%

Why you should locate there: “Milton is the fastest-growing community in Canada, with a young, highly-educated workforce”

22-Oakville_ON-Christmas_2013-P_Chris_So-Toronto_Star-Getty_453745727-600x400.jpg

Photo: Chris So/Toronto Star/Getty

22. Oakville, Ont.

Population: 202,299 Annualized population growth: 1.46% Avg. household income: $147,646
Avg. general lease rate: $27.67 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 62.57%

Why you should locate there: “Oakville is THE location of choice for over 300 national and international corporate headquarters”

23-Victoria_BC-Fishermens_Wharf_2015-P_Joe_Mabel-CC_SA-Wikimedia-600x400

Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia

23. Victoria, B.C.

Population: 85,332 Annualized population growth: 0.71% Avg. household income: $64,416
Avg. general lease rate: $27.80 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.0% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 62.68%

Why you should locate there: “Victoria is Canada’s best city for a well-balanced and successful lifestyle”

24-Cambridge_ON-Main_Street_Galt_2011-P_Jason_Paris-CC_A-Flickr_6622445159_af474e280e_z-600x400

Photo: Jason Paris/Flickr

24. Cambridge, Ont.

Population: 138,557 Annualized population growth: 1.18% Avg. household income: $87,868
Avg. general lease rate: $15.88 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 65.12%

Why you should locate there: “Cambridge provides central and efficient access to all of southwestern Ontario and the US border region”

25-Windsor_Essex_ON-Skyline_2008-Pickup-600x400

Photo: Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation

25.Windsor-Essex, Ont.

Population: 334,137 Annualized population growth: 0.36% Avg. household income: $75,245
Avg. general lease rate: $15.57 psf/yr Corporate income tax rate: 26.5% Adults with bachelor’s degree: 59.23%

Why you should locate there: “Windsor-Essex is a winning mix of centrality, unhindered crossing and access to market”

 

Click here for vital facts and figures on 219 Canadian municipalities »

The Canadian Business Best Places for Business ranking is based on public and proprietary market data and survey responses from some 60 municipalities with populations of 15,000 or more. Municipalities were awarded scores on factors such as the median cost of office space, the speed of processing a building permit and the percentage of residents with a university degree. Leading cities were those with the highest cumulative scores out of a possible 200.

Loading comments, please wait.