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Monday August 27, 2007

Vancouver tops Economist Liveability Index

VANCOUVER, August 29, 2007 (GLOBE-Net) – For the fifth year running, Vancouver has been given the best score in a livability survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an offshoot of Economist Magazine.

The survey considered 132 cities around the world and ranked cities on a scale of 0 to 100, with a lower score indicating a higher quality of living. Rankings are based on 40 individual factors in categories such as stability, health care, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

With a score of 1.3, Vancouver topped the survey, followed by Melbourne, Australia and Vienna, Austria. Toronto was the only other Canadian city to fall in the top ten, receiving a ranking of 3.0 and fifth place on the list.

The survey attributes Vancouver’s place atop the list to the city’s relatively low crime rates, limited threat from instability or terrorism, and strong transport and communications infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan reportedly feels that Vancouver citizens’ concern for their city’s natural and social environments explains the high ranking:“I think the biggest reason why we are rated number one in the world is because we have the ability to balance the different concerns,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“[Vancouverites] have a very strong social conscience, a great environmental ethic that flows into the city,” he added.

The Economist report notes that while liveability considers factors of recreational and cultural activity, the "big city buzz" can hamper the scores of some cities, although not to the extent that a city will present significant challenges. Global centres such as New York, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong and Paris may not score as high because of their size and attractiveness.

The Economist reports that traffic congestion and higher crime rates associated with large urban centres can outweigh the contribution of cultural gains to livability in the case of large cities. Fears that large centres like London and New York will remain targets for high-profile terror attacks also lower their livability scores.

Only nine cities surveyed present worst-case scenarios with scores of more than 50, indicating restrictions on most aspects of living quality. Four of these are in Asia, mainly South Asia. The other five are in Africa (accounting for three) and the Middle East (accounting for two). Algiers, the capital of Algeria, ranked last with a score of 64.7.

The Economist says that the threat of terrorism and civil unrest is a major contributing factor to the cities that suffer from the worst liveability scores, as are poor development indicators.

Meanwhile, Vancouver, boasting its apparently high degree of liveability, seems well positioned to host the upcoming Globe 2008 conference on business and the environment.