Canada SMOKES the U.S. in latest "livable city" survey - Vancouver tops list
One shouldn't put too much emphasis on these things, but let's go ahead and do it anyway. I mean, it's not often (or is it?) that Canada comes out so much better than the U.S. on one of these international surveys.
The latest, which Lesley Ciarula Taylor noted in today's Star, is the latest Global Livability Report by the Economist Intelligence Unit. According to the EIU, and who could argue with them, Canada dominated a list of the world's most livable cities, factoring stability, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Vancouver took home the gold medal out of 140 places surveyed, with Melbourne coming second and Vienna third. Toronto was fourth, followed (ahem - attention Alberta shoppers!) by Calgary.
Talk about owning the podium. That's three of the top five for us, and how impressive is that?
The next five spots in the top 10 went to Helsinki, Sydney, Perth (Australia), Adelaide (Australia) and Auckland (New Zealand).
Guess one could argue that Australia having four top 10 cities compared to Canada with three is more impressive but I'd say that three in the top five beats four in the top 10. Take that, Oz.
(I read a Brisbane paper this morning and apparently they were miffed at being #21 and finishing back of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Sorry guys.)
"Vancouver (Canada) remains at the top of the ranking, a position that can only have been cemented by the successful hosting of the 2010 winter Olympics and Paralympics, which provided a boost to the infrastructure and culture and environment categories," the EIU wrote in a summary of the report.
It's the fifth year in a row that Vancouver came out on top, which is remarkable. Great city, but isn't it enough that they already have daffodils in bloom? Do they really have to rub it in like this?
What was the top U.S. spot? Pittsburgh, at #29, followed by Honolulu (see photo) at #30.
Pittsburgh has come a long way since its days as Steeltown, with new, revitalized areas downtown and lots of good restaurants. Honolulu also has cleaned up its act, with vibrant new parks and a much cleaner Waikiki Beach than was the case 15 or 20 years ago.
I spotted somewhere that Washington D.C. was 34th, followed by Chicago, Atlanta and Miami at 36th (a three-way tie), Detroit in 40th spot (good for them) and Boston 41st.
Of course, from a travel standpoint one has to take these surveys with a grain or six of salt. Just because a place is livable doesn't mean it's a great place to visit. I mean, as a tourist I don't care all that much about residents' access to top-notch health care, although you want to be sure you have good hospitals if you get sick. And it matters little to me when I visit New York whether they have a better education system than Vancouver or Melbourne.
The Economist report said its rankings are based upon stability (wars, unrest crime, 25 percent), healthcare (20 percent), culture and environment (including climate, 25 percent), education (10 percent) and infrastructure (20 percent).
It's quite amazing, really, that Toronto and, especially, Calgary did so well when you consider climate is 25 per cent of the ranking. No offence, but I wouldn't put either Hogtown or Cowtown in the top 100 cities in the world in terms of climate. But that's just a guy who refuses to ride a bike unless it's at least 15 degrees Celsius with no wind.
For the record, the WORST cities, according to the Economist, are Harare (Zimbabwe), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea). Guess I won't be making plans to visit any of those in the next couple months...Also in the "Bottom 10" were Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dakar (Senegal), Tehran, Douala (Cameroon), Karachi (Pakistan), Algiers (Algeria) and Lagos (Nigeria).
The Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka noted that Canada and Australia kicked butt, and added that it was interesting because those are the two countries with the largest Sri Lankan diaspora numbers. Apparently having a lot of Sri Lankans makes your country pretty great. Unless you're actually IN Sri Lanka. Or maybe Sri Lankans are simply quite wise about where they emigrate to?
As for other notable cities, I was surprised to see London way down at 53. Apparently, the Economist gave them a lot stability score, in part because of the perceived threat of terror.
The China Daily reports that Hong Kong came 31st, while Beijing was back at 72nd. And you know that can't play well with the folks in charge in China...
The whole list costs $500 to purchase, which is slightly out of my range. But I looked around various websites this morning and spotted an Asian paper that noted Osaka was #12 and Tokyo #18.
Enjoy the spotlight, Canada. Just watch out for another winter storm.