toronto skyline

Toronto slips to 8th in world livability rankings

We're pretty good when it comes to green space and lack of pollution but not so good with urban sprawl and the number of cultural sites, according to a new rankings published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research group associated with the Economist magazine.

Toronto was ranked eighth in the world - the only North American city to break the top 10 - in a list of the top 70 cities ranked by criteria the EIU normally uses to produce its widely recognized Global City Livability Index, in which Toronto is fourth, plus a few extras such as green space, sprawl, cultural assets, and connectivity, added by architect Filippo Lovato, the winner of a competition to devise new ranking methods.

Naturally, it would be nice to be higher, but our location may have both helped and hindered us. Cities were ranked based on their distance from UNESCO World Heritage Sites, giving cities in Europe and other parts of the world a boost, but our position in the shores of Lake Ontario may have pushed up our "natural assets" rank.

Toronto, according to the press release, was stymied by its high isolation score - we aren't close to any other large cities - and lack of recognized cultural assets (i.e. UNESCO sites). On the other hand, Hong Kong, at number one, scored poorly for pollution and cultural assets but was pushed up by low sprawl and good natural features.

It's hard to draw too many meaningful conclusions from lists like this, but obviously the addition of a few extra categories has dragged us south from our normal position. Urban sprawl is perhaps the main issue we have to deal with that isn't easily explained away by location. We did, however, finish above cities of comparable size in the States, like Chicago.

So, do we care about dropping a few spots in just one world ranking? I suspect not. But perhaps we should be keeping an eye on these sorts of lists going forward; could it be the more one investigates, the worse Toronto begins to look? The usual champions of these rankings, Melbourne, Vienna and Vancouver, weren't included for reasons that aren't entirely clear. If you've lived in other major cities, how do you think Toronto compares?

THE FULL TOP 10:

1. Hong Kong
2. Amsterdam
3. Osaka
4. Paris
5. Sydney
6. Stockholm
7. Berlin
8. Toronto
9. Munich
10. Tokyo

NORTH AMERICAN CITIES:

14. Washingon, D.C.
15. Chicago
16. New York
17. Los Angeles
18. San Francisco
19. Boston
21. Atlanta
23. Miami

Photo: "Toronto Summer" by kaybee07 in the blogTO Flickr Pool.


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