Toronto consultants advise immigrants to avoid Digby, Yarmouth, Clare

Jonathan
Jonathan Riley
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Digby mayor and warden suggest immigrants should visit and see

A provincially-commissioned report picked Digby as the best location for a port to launch tidal energy projects in Nova Scotia. Jonathan Riley photo

Saskia Geerts thinks smart immigrants should give Digby a second look.

Geerts, from the Netherlands, and her Canadian partner moved to Digby in 2007 and opened the Digby Backpackers Inn on Queen Street in 2008.

“Our area offers an opportunity for immigrants from many places to become self-sufficient in a beautiful, peaceful, quiet and safe place to raise a family,” she said. “As being from the Netherlands and a small business owner myself, I know I would never have had the same opportunity in the Netherlands, or even many other places in Canada.”

Geerts made those comments in response to a list circulating on Facebook that puts Digby, Clare and Yarmouth on a list of the worst ten towns in Canada for immigrants.

Immigroup, an immigration consulting firm based in Toronto that helps people apply to come to Canada, posted a list last August called “Dying Towns: 10 Towns in Canada that Smart Immigrants Avoid”.

Geerts laughs at the title.

“I must be pretty dumb then for taking an opportunity to start my dream business in a beautiful area within a community that offers such a welcoming, friendly and open atmosphere,” she said.

Yarmouth is number eight on the list, Digby number six and Clare is number three.

The list appears to be based on StatsCan data – for Digby and Yarmouth the unemployment rates of 13 and 12.5 per cent are the main reasons for avoiding the towns, but for Clare they also mention that the average wage fell by 7.5 per cent.

Immigroup describes Digby as “a pleasant little town in southwest Nova Scotia which is a significant tourist destination for those from nearby Halifax and Saint John.”

“The problem is that Digby, aside from losing people 6.5 per cent of its population from 2006 to 2011, has a pretty high unemployment rate; nearly 13 per cent. So whereas it might be a nice place to visit if you're out that way examining historic Acadia, you likely don't want to stay there.”

But Geerts says the employment rate isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a home.

“Not everybody that moves here would be looking for a regular job,” she said. “There are those who would start their own small business and become self-sufficient, or those that would move here to retire. The house and land prices are such that it is not expensive to live here, compared to many other places in the world.”

She says the area is perfect for an entrepreneur like herself.

“It is a fact though that many immigrants are entrepreneurs,” she said. “And, guess what, we have everything in our area that this group of immigrants would like to see: a skilled workforce, low land and house prices, good connections to the world (high speed internet, deep ocean port at Halifax, same day connection to Boston), safe community, and a beautiful place to be.”

Digby’s mayor says people who want to pick a place to live should visit.

“If I was looking for a new place to live, I’d visit,” said Ben Cleveland. “People who visit the area see what it has to offer. A recent study here found we have attracted immigrants from over 20 different cultures. We have people from Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, families from Asia and the Middle East, people who love it here.”

Cleveland hopes people won’t put much faith in a list generated based solely on numbers.

“Shouldn’t [the authors of the list] visit the various regions of the country, or at the very least speak to people from the communities, both long term residents, or new members of our  community who have choose our region to live, work and raise their families?” he asked after looking at the website.

The mayor says Immigroup’s information about the Yarmouth ferry is out of date, not to mention the StatsCan data the whole list is based on.

“We’ve seen an increase in fisheries jobs,” he said, “We have a fish plant in Meteghan looking for employees—they’re looking to bring people in because they can’t find employees here.”

And the mayor says more jobs are coming.

“There is opportunity here,” he said. “And the future opportunities as tidal energy takes off, will rival the rest of the country.”

[Tidal power firms promote local economic impact, March 28, 2014]

The mayor said beyond the friendly people and beautiful scenery, Digby has a lot to offer.

“I think were progressive and willing to take on new challenges and new opportunities—just look at what we’re doing with tidal power,” he said. “It’s a myth that we say no to opportunity here. I’ve been on council for a decade and we’ve always worked with everyone who has come knocking, and we’ve gone knocking asking people to come.”

The warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby, currently in British Columbia on a solid waste and recycling conference, told the Courier by phone she brags about her home wherever she goes.

She said Digby has a lot to offer including the friendliness, beautiful scenery, low crime rate and high speed internet that connects workers to the world.

“I push Digby and Nova Scotia because I believe we are one of the better provinces to live in,” she said. “Yes we have an older population but that means there are opportunities for young people here.

“In our area, you can be busy and you can be useful,” she said, “You can sit on volunteer boards, the health foundation, you can be a fireman, our Lions Club has won international awards for the work they do.

“There’s lots to do for anyone who wants to be busy and involved.”

She too thinks more jobs will come with tidal energy and green energy in general.

“We are looking at our port and working with industrial commission to see just how we need to expand for tidal energy,” she said. “That’s going to be jobs, so we do have a future. And not just tidal, but green energy is the way to go.”

jriley@digbycourier.ca

 

Organizations: Lions Club

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Canada, Nova Scotia Germany Netherlands United Kingdom Asia Middle East Toronto Halifax Saint John Cleveland Meteghan British Columbia

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • John Sollows
    April 08, 2014 - 09:11

    I wonder how well-informed this consultant is about living and working in southwest Nova Scotia. Jobs are hard to come by and you can forget about getting rich if you live down here. However, if life means more to you than just money and you have something to offer that is needed down here, you will be welcome and given time, should earn a decent income. This is a tough place to find work, but otherwise, there is no better place to live.

  • Ian Barnes
    April 06, 2014 - 10:32

    not worth another reply, i'm leaving now, its all over, nothing left

  • Ian Barnes
    April 05, 2014 - 12:44

    Nothing negative about SW Nova, a huge welcome to Mr Giesen, from a very happy immigrant. You have to have seen the other places to know what makes this place special. Negativity can be found anywhere, stay in front of positive people. Looking forward to the rest of my life here .

    • Philippe Frigault
      April 06, 2014 - 06:52

      I'm very happy for you Mr. Barnes that you feel this way about SW Nova, as much as you and Mr. Giesen are happy to live down here I think both of you are missing the point here 1- I say if you want to attract tourist, give them a reason to come down like, put down the price of the ferry for the summer, lower the gas price in the summer, etc, etc don't rip them off because they will never come back. 2-Why do we have to pay for a service like the Yarmouth ferry with AMERICAN MONEY ? Can anybody give me a straight answer!!! Name me one place in Canada where you buy something or pay for a service, that you have to pay with American money, have you ever taken a cab down here and the driver ask you to pay with American money, or the bus or even the Digby Ferry, and why is the price of gas so high down here that is all I want to know, so if someone knows please feel free to respond to my comments

  • Philippe Frigault
    April 04, 2014 - 04:46

    With the price of gas we have down here, the SUPER NEW PRICE of the Yarmouth Ferry [a couple,1 dog, 25 feet motor home, round trip $1300.00 US and I say US DOLLARS { why ??? I taught Yarmouth was in Nova-Scotia CANADA a province that use CANADIAN MONEY] and The Bay of Ferry that raise their price to be in line with Yarmouth WHY WHY should anyone consider coming down here to visit and word of advise" if you do come down, bring your own doctor just in case".

  • Stefan Giesen
    April 03, 2014 - 23:30

    LOL, looks like I must be quite dumb then as well - after all, I immigrated from Germany about three years ago and not only moved from Halifax to Digby a year ago, but also bought myself a house here before doing so. And yes, as Geerts already did, I intend to start my own small business here in the not too far future as well. I can only agree with Geerts - in my opinion this area is close to being perfect for a certain type of entrepreneur: you have basically all the infrastructure and everything you might need for your business and house prices and the overall cost of living are quite low here. Just to give you an idea about how low: for the price I payed for my house here in Digby (it needs some TLC of course, but it's a bigger one), back in Germany in my home village (which happens to be in a rural area in Germany and which is about the same size as Digby) I would have been able to buy ONLY A LOT without anything on it (and that lot would actually have been only about half the size as the one my house here sits on to start with)! And as far as I can tell, it seems to be much easier to start a new small business over here than to do the same in Germany (if you think you have a lot of bureaucracy and regulations over here in Nova Scotia/Canada, try Germany for a change - I sometimes think we INVENTED the stuff over there - and don't even ask about the German income tax forms... :-P ). Ah yes, I nearly forgot something: living in an area other people visit when they need a vacation doesn't hurt either. ;-)

    • Philippe Frigault
      April 05, 2014 - 04:55

      Good for you, I hope you open your business soon and become successful, but please don't compare Germany to Digby or Digby to Germany. You have been here for 3 years only, wait until you have been here for 8 to 10 years you might not sing the same song The price of gas and almost everything has gone up a lot, and to make matters worst now, I'm, and we are been told as CANADIAN that to book a ferry in Yarmouth CANADA you have to pay AMERICAN MONEY, I'm sorry but I don't but this crap, we are in Canada, ocean to ocean. our currency is CANADIAN DOLLAR and that is what we should be using As far as tourism is concerned, ATTRACK THEM and they will come, it is not with gas at about $1.36 a liter that they will drive around and at $1,300.00 Us ferry to come across they will stay home

  • Stefan Giesen
    April 03, 2014 - 23:30

    LOL, looks like I must be quite dumb then as well - after all, I immigrated from Germany about three years ago and not only moved from Halifax to Digby a year ago, but also bought myself a house here before doing so. And yes, as Geerts already did, I intend to start my own small business here in the not too far future as well. I can only agree with Geerts - in my opinion this area is close to being perfect for a certain type of entrepreneur: you have basically all the infrastructure and everything you might need for your business and house prices and the overall cost of living are quite low here. Just to give you an idea about how low: for the price I payed for my house here in Digby (it needs some TLC of course, but it's a bigger one), back in Germany in my home village (which happens to be in a rural area in Germany and which is about the same size as Digby) I would have been able to buy ONLY A LOT without anything on it (and that lot would actually have been only about half the size as the one my house here sits on to start with)! And as far as I can tell, it seems to be much easier to start a new small business over here than to do the same in Germany (if you think you have a lot of bureaucracy and regulations over here in Nova Scotia/Canada, try Germany for a change - I sometimes think we INVENTED the stuff over there - and don't even ask about the German income tax forms... :-P ). Ah yes, I nearly forgot something: living in an area other people visit when they need a vacation doesn't hurt either. ;-)