In Search of Welcoming Neighbourhoods and Adequate Housing: The Experiences of Recent Newcomers in North Bay and Timmins, Ontario

The Settlement Program of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada identifies newcomers’ integration into Canadian society as key to the successful realization of the economic, social, and cultural benefits of immigration (IRCC, 2019). The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven program that is specifically designed to spread the benefits of immigration to smaller communities, such as North Bay and Timmins (Ontario) (Immigrate to Canada, n.s.). There can be advantages for immigrants who settle in small- to midsize urban centres, such as North Bay and Timmins due to access to more affordable living. There are also advantages for small- to mid-size urban centres, such as North Bay and Timmins, which are able to attract and retain immigrants. Access to acceptable housing is a key characteristic of a welcoming community and neighbourhood characteristics shape opportunities for newcomers. Understanding how welcoming these communities are is important to understanding the geographic dispersal of immigrants.

The objectives of our research project were three-fold. First, we examined those community housing characteristics identified by recent newcomers that facilitate or hinder their integration into the North Bay and Timmins communities. Second, we examined the neighbouring behaviours and interactions of recent newcomers in North Bay and Timmins areas and their perceptions of their neighbourhoods. Finally, we examined the marketing efforts of the settlement agencies and municipal agencies in order to foster welcoming neighbourhoods and to create a sense of community for newcomers.