How do you compare cities? It’s difficult to collapse millions of individual subjective experiences into a single method of comparison, but one popular technique used in recent years has been to judge a city’s “livability.”
But what does this word actually mean? In their 2015 ranking of the world's most livable cities, Metropolis Magazine published an article on the world’s most livable cities in their July-August edition praising Toronto’s green spaces, waterfront, housing re-development projects and mixed-use neighbourhoods.
Editors were pleased with what they described as a “transformation” occurring in the city.
“Condo and office towers continue to pop up at a fast and furious rate as people—especially seniors and young professionals—flood into a downtown where they can enjoy Canada’s most urban environment,” they said.
The newly launched UP Express train, which runs between Pearson Airport and Union Station, also received a mention.
Mayor John Tory welcomed the ranking, but he said the city has to keep working to improve.
“It is gratifying because I think it says we’re heading in the right direction on a number of fronts, but it’s no reason for complacency” Tory said.
He echoed the magazine’s recognition of special events at public spaces.
“They talked about how we use our public spaces, including Nathan Phillips Square and Yonge-Dundas Square ... and that’s all part of a healthy downtown,” Tory said. “It’s a big part of why we’re a very liveable city because there’s no part of Toronto now that you can’t go to that isn’t lively at all hours of the day and night.”
Tory added the diversity of residents plays a major factor in determining the livability of Toronto.
Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of the city’s economic development committee and Invest Toronto, echoed Tory’s sentiments and added business owners and developers are recognizing the importance of livability.
“We have attractions, we have amenities ... that creates an environment in which people want to live here, want to work here and want to be able to play here,” he said after the magazine pointed out “double-digit job growth” in the downtown core over the past 10 years and billions of dollars in development.
Despite the many positive attributes listed in the article, Toronto didn’t escape criticism, including a lack of affordable housing.
Tory said he, and others in government, have been working to improve TCHC properties and re-develop under-utilized lands for new housing projects.
Toronto beat out Tokyo, Japan and Helsinki, Finland, which were ranked second and third respectively.
Australia was represented by Melbourne, which ranked 8th.
Here are some of the reasons Metropolis Magazine declared Toronto the world’s most liveable city:
Toronto’s population is projected to pass three million within the next 15 years.
Significant job growth in downtown Toronto over the last decade.
More than $20 billion in development projects in 2014.
Green space preservation
Approximately 1.8 million acres of land in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), also known as the Ontario Greenbelt, have been protected from development.
Neighbourhoods such as Kensington Market and Regent Park are praised for their mixed uses and cultural amenities.
The express train offers a direct connection between Union Station and Pearson Airport.
The Tower Renewal Project
Several organizations in Toronto have joined together to update aging apartment highrises and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.