Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Toronto slips on Economist's livable cities list

TORONTO - The Big Smoke ain’t what it used to be, but it’s still pretty good.

Toronto has slipped from forth to eighth place among a list of 70 of the world’s most livable cities, according to an annual report published by a research arm of The Economist magazine.

With an overall score of 85.4, however, Toronto continues to enjoy a place among the top 10 and is the only North American city to do so this time around.

The survey, prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the data-sharing company, Buzzdata, looked at various new factors when ranking cities: green space, urban sprawl, a city’s natural and cultural assets, its international connectivity, isolation and levels of pollution.

These categories were based on a contest where the EIU and Buzzdata called on contestants to develop new ways of judging the livability of a city.

While T.O. scored high in the areas of green space, connectivity and lack of pollution, its sprawl and its lack of natural and cultural assets served as its downfall. (Cultural assets refers to the availability of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation world heritage sites).

Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of the city’s economic development and culture committee, is not discouraged by Toronto’s slipping in the EIU’s rankings.

“There are so many rankings and ratings, (and) in all the rankings I’ve seen, Toronto always fares well,” said Thompson, adding that urban sprawl, which Toronto scored poorly on, is “inevitable.”

“We must grow,” Thompson said, calling attention to the “5.6 million” people in the GTA. “It is what it is. It is the build-up of areas across the GTA.”

Paris took over fourth-place from Toronto for this report. And Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Osaka came in first, second and third, respectively. The next North American city to make the list after Toronto was Washington in 14th place, followed by Chicago in 15th place, New York in 16th place and Los Angeles in 17th place.

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