Toronto best place to live but for whom?

by | Feb 6, 2015 | Editorial

When The Economist came out with its annual Safe City Index report last week, all the media platforms were coated with their decision to name Toronto the best city to live in in the world.

While many in our community were quick to boast, just as many, if not more, were left puzzled.

In a Global News online poll, out of almost 4,300 votes, only 700 people voted that they agreed Toronto is the best, while many others voted that within Canada Vancouver and Calgary are better.

The Safe Cities Index analyzes four aspects of safety in each of the 50 cities in the study: digital secusrity, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety. Toronto placed first in none of these categories, but placed eighth in the Safe Cities overall rankings, which weighs each category evenly.

The only other Canadian city in the study is Montreal, which placed second, just behind Toronto in the overall findings. The overall findings average a number of factors including the safe cities index, democracy index, worldwide cost of living and global food security index.

While many can agree that Toronto has some great qualities, most notably its diversity, it faces many challenges that any resident here can notice on a daily basis.

Some are harder to see through the smog.

Transit is one of the biggest obstacles the city faces. Toronto’s failure to update and renew our outdated transit systems at a rate that even comes close to mirroring the rate of population growth has left the majority of the city in gridlock, whether you drive or not.

One huge goal is getting more cars off the roads. In order to do that, transit systems need to be put in place to inspire people to leave their cars at home.  But that’s hard to do when the city alone is left to cover most of the costs to bring the TTC up to 21st century standards.

Not only is the system old, slow and constantly broken, fare prices are outrageous. The monthly TTC pass is the most expensive transit pass out of all major North American cities. And with yet another fare increase planned for March 1 (the monthly adult pass will be nearly $10 more), we continue to see fares rising while service dwindles.

Another major problem Toronto faces is the ever-widening income divide that can be seen geographically. Toronto’s middle-income earners are disappearing. While diversity is a huge selling point for Toronto, equality is becoming squashed.

What’s interesting is the steadily rising high-income section of the city almost follows the subway line, while the steadily falling lower-income sections cover the northern parts of Toronto and spread outwards into Etobicoke and Scarborough.

When (if ever) the TTC meets those 21st century standards, it will branch out into low-income sections of the city making access to the core easier. This could break the clear divide that currently exists, and could prompt gentrification in those areas.

Although controversial, some believe that if wealthier residents move into the poorer neighbourhoods and invest in those neighbourhoods, businesses will be more attracted to them, the local economy would then further develop and make the community more attractive.

But, of course, the low-income earners will eventually be unable to afford to live in what was their community and consequently forced out.

It’s one thing to say Toronto is the best city to live in in the world, but funny there’s no mention of for whom.