Pickering, Ontario is located in the southern region of the province, east of Toronto. And while the much-larger Toronto receives a lot of focus and attention, Pickering is a city that deserves its own time in the spotlight. For people who are considering moving to Pickering—or are debating different cities in Ontario—it’s important to look at some of the pros and cons of the city.
With a population of just over 90,000 people, Pickering is a multicultural community with many different languages and cultures represented. Pickering is primarily a residential community, with all the services and attractions common in suburban areas. It’s a family-friendly city with parks, cultural attractions, and great outdoor recreation opportunities.
If you are considering moving to Pickering, Ontario, or just want to learn more about it, read on to discover the pros and cons of the city.
Pros of living in Pickering, Ontario
1. Proximity to Toronto
Pickering is just 40km away from Toronto. This is a 30-minute drive, depending on traffic. A lot of people will choose to take the GO Train, which is very reliable and takes 30 minutes. The train bypasses all the traffic on Highway 401, one of the cons of living in Pickering. Because of the proximity, a lot of people who live in Pickering can commute to Toronto for work.
The proximity to Toronto also allows residents of Pickering to access services in addition to culture, recreation, and entertainment options. They can benefit from living in a more affordable and slow-paced region but get to the city quickly to experience the excitement of city living.
2. Housing is (more) affordable
Anyone who knows about housing and affordability knows that the Greater Toronto Area is very expensive. Therefore, housing in Pickering is not going to be as cheap as in other communities in Canada. So, it’s important to look at housing on a relative basis, not an absolute one.
Relatively speaking, Pickering is more affordable than in other parts of the GTA. So, if you want to live in this region, Pickering is a good choice. Current housing prices are approximately $900,000 on average, compared to over $1 million in Toronto.
While Pickering is more expensive than other communities in Canada, it still represents a fairly affordable option in the region. That being said, prices have risen in recent years, and are likely to continue to do so.
3. Employment Opportunities
While a lot of people will commute to Toronto to work, there are still excellent job prospects right in Pickering. The largest employer in the city is the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, which employs around 4,500 people currently.
Other major employers in Pickering include private companies like Rogers Communication and a variety of production companies (i.e. Noranco Manufacturing, Purdue Pharma Canada, Signature Aluminum Canada Inc.)
Finally, because of the proximity to Toronto, residents of Pickering can maximize their job prospects by looking for work in the city.
4. Arts and Culture
Pickering has a strong community feel and has a number of excellent arts and culture initiatives. The city has programs such as Arts Unleashed each year to celebrate arts and culture. The Pickering Museum Village also helps preserve and celebrate the community and history.
The city also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as Culture Days in September.
3. Outdoor Recreation on Lake Ontario
Pickering is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, so naturally, there are some excellent outdoor recreation activities. Frenchman’s Bay boardwalk or the waterfront trail is perfect for going on a walk and enjoying the natural beauty.
Other recreation activities like boating, sailing, swimming are also great options at Lake Ontario. Pickering also has excellent cycling, biking, and hiking trails in and around the region. And, if you don’t want to actually do all that exercise… Just take in the views out over Lake Ontario. They are absolutely beautiful! Definitely one of the top pros of living in this city.
Cons of living in Pickering, Ontario
1. Pickering Nuclear Generation Plant
While the plant is generally a good part of the Pickering economy, providing many jobs, it can also be a negative due to the location and aesthetics. The plant is located right along the Ontario Lakeshore, and so it is a bit of an eyesore when you are planning on spending a day at the beach. While this might not be a big deal to everyone, some people may not enjoy seeing a nuclear generation plant while trying to spend a day at the lake.
Another con is that this plant is actually slated to close its doors by 2025, which will put some people out of work.
2. High Property Tax Rate
As discussed earlier, Pickering is generally more affordable than Toronto or other parts of the GTA. However, the property tax rates are quite high. In 2021, Pickering tax rates were 1.08%, compared to only 0.6% in Toronto.
While this may not be a factor that “makes or breaks” your decision to move to Pickering, it is an important consideration, especially if you are looking to buy a home.
3. No Real Downtown Area
Pickering does not have a traditional downtown area with a high concentration of shops and restaurants. There are regions of the city that offer these, but not in a classic downtown way. This may be a con to some people who enjoy being able to walk to shops, restaurants, and bars within a close area.
The city of Pickering, however, has development plans that would help create more useable downtown spaces. While it is still in the development phase, it is a promising vision for the future of Pickering.
While the proximity to Toronto is a pro of living in Pickering, the traffic to get there is a major con! Highway 401 is a direct route between the two cities but has regular traffic that can cause major delays. Since there is such a high volume of cars using this route, traffic is inevitable!
For this reason, many residents choose to take the GO Train instead of driving on the highway. However, if you need a car for your job or other reasons, traffic is a major consideration when living in Pickering.
Pickering is an excellent city to live in, with great outdoor recreation, quick access to Toronto, and generally affordable housing for the region. However, there are some cons, including the traffic, proximity to a nuclear plant, and no real downtown area.
We hope this guide helped you consider some of the pros and cons of living in Pickering, Ontario.