It may be one of the greenest and cleanest, but Toronto was pulled down by urban sprawl and a lack of cultural assets in its final ranking in a recent contest to pick the world’s top city.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and data-sharing company BuzzData had contestants devise data-based rankings of cities worldwide to determine which one is the best.
Toronto — the only North American city in the top 10 — was ranked eighth out of 70 cities around the world. The survey didn’t include perennial winners of similar rankings like Vancouver, B.C.
Hong Kong came out as No. 1, with Amsterdam and Osaka taking the second and third spot. In 14th spot, Washington was ranked next highest in North America, after Toronto.
Toronto received the highest possible rating for green space and pollution, but its marks floundered in categories such as “cultural assets” and “sprawl.”
The survey is different than the Global City Liveability Index published by the London-based EIU, the research arm for the company that publishes the influential Economist magazine. In 2011, that ranking put Toronto fourth — one spot behind Vancouver and one above Calgary.
This latest ranking, however, comes after the EIU released data used in its index and called on contestants to “mine, mix and mash it up to create fresh perspectives on what makes a city truly great.”
The winner, architect Filippo Lovato, created something called a “Spatially Adjusted Liveability Index,” which added seven indicators to EIU’s ranking methods. Lovato’s additional categories measured attributes like green space, urban sprawl, natural and cultural assets, pollution and connectivity and isolation.
The survey is not exhaustive. Cultural assets were measured by proximity to UNESCO World Heritage Sites — explaining why Toronto did poorly in that category as compared to, for example, Berlin and Rome.
Lovato excluded 70 cities that were on the EIU list, focusing on the largest and most geographically diverse, of which Toronto was the only Canadian city.
Councillor Michael Thompson, who chairs the city’s economic development and culture committee, said Toronto consistently ranks high in international measures.
“But I don’t think we use them as our benchmark for success. I think we have our own definition of what makes a great city,” said Thompson.
Top 10 Cities in the Spatially Adjusted Liveability Index
1. Hong Kong
Other North American cities and their rankings:
14. Washington DC
16. New York
17. Los Angeles
18. San Francisco