Toronto 88th city live Canada

Toronto ranked 88th best city to live in Canada (WTF?)

Ottawa, Mississauga, Yellowknife, Rimouski, Medicine Hat and Sarnia are all better places to live than Toronto according to MoneySense Magazine. In fact 87 other Canadian "cities" beat out the T-dot in their annual rankings, surely an exercise designed to stir the pot as much as to shed light on the actual living conditions in urban centres across the country. Try as I might to resist, however, I'll take the bait here and wonder aloud at why it is we did so poorly — especially given the fact that the Economist seems to think rather highly of us.

According the magazine, they "look at empirical, objective criteria such as housing affordability, incomes, job prospects, crime rates and access to health care. Even weather is taken into account." Fair enough, I suppose. You can read more about the methodology here, but let's just take a glance at the categories and the relative weight they're given.

Walk/bike to work (7 points), Weather (18 points), Air Quality (2 points), Population Growth (10 points), Unemployment (10 points), Housing Prices (15 points), Household Income (4 points), Discretionary Income (4 points), New Cars (4 points), Income Taxes (2 points), Sales taxes (1 point), Crime (5 points), Number of Doctors per residents (6 points), Number of Health Professionals per 1000 residents (4 points), Transit (5 points), Amenities (3 points), Culture (up to 5 bonus points).

Part of the problem with a list like this one, which compares "every community with a population of more than 10,000 people" in Canada, is that it gets into apples and oranges territory. It seems obvious that the very biggest cities are going find it hard to compete in some of these categories — like, for instance, housing prices, crime, number of doctors and health professionals per 1000 residents. Where the biggest city in the country should have an edge, on the other hand, the categories aren't weighted particularly heavily (i.e. amenities and culture).

Toronto fares worst when it comes to affordable housing (170th out of the 180 cities) and unemployment/job prospects (140th). We also do poorly when it comes to access to doctors/health professionals (123rd) and population growth, which is deemed too high (119th).

That's not to say there aren't big cities that fare better than Toronto. Even the winning city has a population of over a million people (Ottawa-Gatineau), but with lower real estate prices and ample government jobs, that's understandable. For a little context, Vancouver and Montreal come in at 29th and 123rd, respectively.

In the preamble to the list, MoneySense notes that they "don't expect everyone to agree with [their] findings. What makes a city appealing for one person may make it unlivable for another." That's a useful qualifier, because no matter what their rankings spit out, you're not going to convince me that it'd be better to live in Greater Sudbury (76th) than Toronto. And, yes, I'm comfortable with the inherent bias that informs that statement.

Photo by Sam Hoodless in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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