Rayside-Balfour, which lies north of Sudbury along Highway s 80 and 84, existed as a town from 1973 to 2000. It combined the townships of Rayside and Balfour, which had a mostly francophone population (about 16,000 in 1996). In 2001, this community was amalgamated into the city of Greater Sudbury, become parts of Wards 3 and 4. The community lies on the Northwest Sudbury Bypass (Route144)
The two largest communities in Rayside-Balfour are (from east to west, heading out of town):
Azilda, named for early female pioneer Azilda Belanger, lies on the eastern shore of Whitewater Lake. The community is largely a bedroom community for Sudbury, and includes two neighbourhoods, Belanger and Simard. It is connected to Sudbury by a recently upgraded four lane Municipal Road 35, with plans underway to upgrade this road to 4 lanes up to nearby Chelmsford.
Chelmsford was founded in 1868, to support the Canadian Pacific Railway route through northern Ontario. While the community grew as a result of lumber and trapping, the area was fully logged by the early 1900s, when interest turned to mining and agriculture. Two large mines near Chelmsford closed by the early 1930s, though there are mines in nearby Onaping Falls and Copper Cliff, and the area actively farms fruit, corn and potatoes. Today Chelmsford is a bedroom community for Sudbury, and includes the neighbourhoods of Boninville, Hull and Larchwood.
Azilda has two francophone schools, one public and one Catholic, while anglophone students in Azilda attend a school in Chelmsford or Valley East. Chelmsford has a French language Catholic elementary school, and French language public school, and two secondary schools, one English language, with French immersion and a technology & trades emphasis, and a francophone school serving residents of Rayside-Balfour and Onaping Falls.
There is some grocery shopping in the community of Chelmsford (on #15) and along St Agnes St in Azilda,
Sudbury Downs is located in the outskirts of Azilda. Chelmsford is host to an annual fiddle festival, Fiddle Works, in May of each year.
This area of Sudbury is mostly (70%) single family homes, and small numbers of low rise apartments, semi-detached homes, duplexes, and townhouses. The homes in Rayside-Balfour are younger than most in Sudbury, with a majority being built since 1971.