City of North Bay sign.

North Bay is the No. 1 U-Haul growth city in Canada for 2020, the company said Tuesday, with Greater Sudbury finishing sixth.

The company best known for its moving truck rentals releases a list each year based on its data analyzing migration patterns.

North Bay, with its 53,000 residents along the east shore of Lake Nipissing, enjoyed a 20 per cent increase in arrivals in 2020, while departures grew by just three per cent. It's the largest net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks of any city in Canada over the past calendar year, the company said.

North Vancouver, Kingston, Belleville, and the Barrie/Orillia corridor round out the top five growth cities, with Greater Sudbury finishing sixth.

Ontario boasts 10 of the top 15 cities. Quebec has six cities in the top 25. British Columbia has five.

In a news release, U-Haul said growth cities are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks (moving vans ranging in size from 10 to 26 feet) arriving in a city versus departing from that city in a calendar year.

Migration trends

"Migration trends data is compiled from more than two million one-way U-Haul truck-sharing transactions that occur annually in Canada and the U.S.," the release said. "Neighbouring cities in certain markets are packaged together for U-Haul migration trends purposes."

Arrivals accounted for 57.5 per cent of all one-way U-Haul traffic in North Bay, which ranked fifth for growth in 2019.

“People are packing up their U-Haul trucks and setting their sights on North Bay,” Wayne Curtis, U-Haul Company of Central Ontario president, said in the release. “The cost of living is low, and the Ottawa government is sending jobs in this direction. It’s no surprise North Bay is the No. 1 U-Haul Growth City in Canada.”

Other notable spikes in arrivals were seen in Belleville (20 per cent), Barrie/Orillia (22 per cent), Vancouver (16 per cent), Chilliwack (32 per cent), Abbotsford (26 per cent), Lethbridge (17 per cent) and Nanaimo/Coombs (52 per cent).

"While U-Haul migration trends do not correlate directly to population or economic growth, the company’s growth data is an effective gauge of how well cities are attracting and maintaining residents," the release said.

U-Haul data on migration trends is a good gauge of trends because it has a rental network that covers all 10 Canadian provinces and the 50 U.S. states.

"The geographical coverage from more than 22,000 U-Haul truck- and trailer-sharing locations provides a comprehensive overview of where people are moving like no one else in the industry," the release said.

Top 10 growth cities in 2020, according to U-Haul (2019 rankings in brackets):

1. North Bay, Ont. (5)

2. North Vancouver, B.C. (1)

3. Kingston, Ont.

4. Belleville, Ont. (25)

5. Barrie/Orillia, Ont.

6. Sudbury, Ont.

7. Vancouver, B.C.

8. Chilliwack, B.C.

9. Chatham, Ont. (10)

10. Sarnia, Ont. (15)