Melbourne bumps Vancouver as most liveable city
Published Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:09PM EDT
Vancouver is no longer the world's most liveable city, according to a team of researchers affiliated with The Economist magazine, who dropped the West Coast city to third place in the rankings over highway closures.
Vancouver's drop behind Melbourne and Vienna reflected a 0.7 percentage point decline in its overall liveability rating, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, which compiles the list.
Over the list's nearly 10-year existence, Vancouver has held the top spot every time but one. In 2002, it shared first place with Melbourne.
The unit blamed Vancouver's decline in the rankings over what it called "recent intermittent closures of the key Malahat highway." The highway, which is about 60 kilometres outside of the city, north of Victoria, was closed for 22 hours in April after a fuel tanker truck crashed.
Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs called the reasoning behind Vancouver's drop in the rankings "a mistake."
"I hate to get knocked down because of a mistake, which is what I think this is," he said. "I think we should have a recount because there is nothing we can do about the Malahat."
Jon Copestake, of the Intelligence Unit, explained that the Malahat Highway accident and the resulting traffic back-up was used to highlight regional transportation concerns.
"Essentially, we look at it you know as being across the region of the wider area, and I think that this Malahat Highway is an important highway," he said.
The report warned that Vancouver could experience an even further decline in its ranking because its next report will factor in the Stanley Cup riots in June.
"Although the riots came too late in the year to have an impact on the score of the current survey, further unrest may affect scores for the city in the future," the report said.
Rounding out the top five are Vienna in second place, with Toronto in fourth and Calgary in fifth.
Rick Atonson, president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver, admitted that the riot that followed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final could affect the city's place on the next list.
But he said one incident does not paint the entire picture of the city.
"It was a moment in time, the world's moved on, it's not a recurring theme," he told CTV News Channel Tuesday evening. "So our expectation is that much like the highway it could be one of those things that's kind of out there and not maybe a focus of what the city is all about."
Seven of the top-10 cities are in either Australia or Canada, the report points out, which exhibit the characteristics necessary for a highly liveable city. The top-ranked cities, the report said, tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries, with a low population density.
The top Australian cities have a population density of 2.88 people per square kilometre, while the top Canadian cities have a population density of 3.40 people per square kilometre.
"This can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure," the report said.
The new rankings also reflect the "slight depreciation in liveability" in some European cities due to the ongoing economic crises across the eurozone. As well, the "Arab Spring" that has seen uprisings and protests across the Middle East and North Africa has led to declines in the overall liveability of a number of cities, where fighting has broken out or reforms have yet to improve living standards.
To reach its findings, the unit assigns each city a rating of "relative comfort" for more than 30 factors across five categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
For some factors, experts in various cities will offer ratings or judgments, while for others, certain performance data will provide each city with a specific number of points.
The rating reflects the overall score, as well as the score on the various factors.
Melbourne's first-place rank reflects it liveability rating of 98 (out of 100).
With files from The Canadian Press