I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Vancouver is such a great place to live. It is true that the recent Winter Olympics have done a great deal to increase its visibility on the world stage. Having visited the city a few times personally over the years, I must admit that it ranks highly in my list of pleasant places to visit. Nevertheless, it is not just by accident that we have chosen to make Ottawa our home for most of the last 35 years!
Canadian cities still dominate the top of the index for this region with Vancouver (4) retaining the top spot, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (16) and Montreal (21). Calgary ranks 28 on the overall quality of living ranking.
Ok, I will grant you that Vancouver still ranks ahead of Ottawa but the fact that the two, along with Toronto, Montreal and Calgary rank in the top 50 worldwide should help Canadians realize that Canada is doing some things right. We have, as a nation, with the possible exception of hockey and ‘own the podium’ a tendency to be self-deprecating. It is usually our neighbours to the South who will blow their own trumpets with unbridled enthusiasm at the least excuse. In this instance, each one of the five Canadian cities rank above ALL U.S cities of which only Honolulu and San Francisco rank in the top 50. If you take the trouble to visit the actual report quoted above and scroll down the page, you will discover that there is a second section which ranks cities by using slightly different criteria:
Eco-City Ranking 2010 includes the following criteria: Water availability, water potability, waste removal, sewage, air pollution and traffic congestion.
Things look very different when we start looking at garbage, air pollution and traffic congestion. From my perspective, these are not inconsequential details. Now we find that Ottawa rates 3rd in the entire world. Not too shabby. It is worth noting that in this new ranking, the U.S. has 6 cities present versus 5 for Canada. Of course, they have many more cities to be ranked than Canada. And there are some surprises since neither Minneapolis nor Pittsburgh would come to mind for many when they are considering potential Eco-City placings.
So, the next time that you feel yourself being sucked in by the negative self-image that is so often promulgated in the Canadian media, remember, we are still living in one of the best spots in the world!