Everyone has an opinion on cities | Guest Shot | 24 Hours Vancouver

Last month, the Twitterverse almost spontaneously combusted when Toronto was named as the only North American city to make The Economist magazine’s somewhat dubious ‘most liveable’ list.

The Big Smoke fell from fourth to eighth, but Vancouver, which ranked third last year after holding the top spot for nearly a decade, was noticeably absent, with Hong Kong in first place.

The reason? A new ranking system that took into consideration green space, pollution, urban sprawl and cultural assets, among other factors.

But Vancouver’s snub was as a direct result of its population — apparently we’re too small — in a move that was met with a chorus of virtual boos in 140 characters or less.

One of the most vitriolic replies that caught my eye was; “Vancouver to me is like seeing an impossibly gorgeous woman, only to discover she has absolutely nothing interesting to say.”

Ouch!

But fear not – all is forgiven.

In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s traditional livability survey released this week, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary were named among the top five livable cities in the world, following top rated Melbourne and second place Vienna. Vancouver came in third, Toronto fourth and Calgary fifth.

For these rankings, 140 cities were given a score in five categories: stability (level of crime), health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure; with only 1.8 percentage points separating those in the top 10.

Canadian and Australian cities claimed seven of the top 10 spots thanks to their size, wealth and relatively low population density. Together, these foster “a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” according to the report. Which is probably why Irish immigrants like myself flock to the two country’s in droves.

Will the old East Coast/West Coast rivalry be revived once more in the blogosphere? And, for us immigrants, what are we to believe?

According to a recent Mercer cost-of-living survey, both Vancouver and Toronto are the most expensive cities in North America for expats. Only New York is more expensive, but the feared ‘Manhattanization’ of Toronto could see an end to all that as prices for single detached homes and townhomes are projected to jump by between 30% to 50% in the next decade.

It seems biggest isn’t necessarily always best.

Or, is Prime Minister Stephen Harper right when he recently called Calgary the “greatest city in the greatest country in the world”?

One thing’s for sure, everyone has an opinion. And, until the next ‘most this or that’ survey is released, we’ll just have to be happy with our lot … and be thankful we’re not in Europe!

Follow on Twitter @RachelHealyIre

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