Most livable cities: Canada 3, U.S. 0
The city is in turmoil. By the city, I mean all cities affected by the economic trials of the past year, which is just about every place with a population of more than a few thousand.
I’m in Kingston, Ontario, this Canadian Civic Holiday weekend. A charming historic town of 115,000, it’s sustained by a big public sector (penitentiaries, universities, government agencies) and a healthy diet of tourism and trade. It’s been hardly affected by the Great Recession.
I was surprised to find Maclean’s magazine ranking it only 28th among Canada’s best run cities. It gets rapped for a tight-fisted council and limited services.
Toronto, on the other hand, is rated a big spender but is said to be a provider of high quality services. I wonder. The same issue of Maclean’s knocks Mayor David Miller’s town with a mean front cover that declares “TORONTO STINKS.”
The reference is of course to the month-long strike of civic workers, including garbage collectors. Settled now — in a clear victory for the unions — the walk-out has polarized voters into pro and anti-union camps.
What sticks in the craw of most voters is that taxpayers will continue to bonus workers when they retire with payment for sick days they never took or needed. What a sweet deal! New employees will be excluded, but Toronto will have to budget for these golden handshakes for years to come.
Toronto isn’t the clean, crime-free, safe city it used to be, most people say. Just the same, it’s rated as one of the world’s most livable cities in the Economist magazine’s annual survey.
Canada, in fact, gets three of the top ten mentions — Vancouver and Calgary making the list along with Toronto. (Maclean’s gives its best managed city nod to Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver.)
On The Economist list, another three slots go to Australian cities – Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Interesting that six of the ten most livable cities in the world are in these two countries!
Not a single American city ranked among the best!
Right now, many U.S. cities are in the process of shutting down large segments of themselves. (Isn’t this what people do when they’re dying?) Abandoned factories and empty houses are reducing the size of towns like Flint, Michigan, and St. Louis, Missouri. These and other places are in the process of admitting failure, and simply turning decrepit sections back into empty land.
What will the city of the future look like? I’ve been doing some reading on this subject and will pass on some ideas in another blog.