New Economist Cities Index: Toronto Highest-Ranked North American City, Vancouver Doesn't Place

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ECONOMIST BEST CITIES TORONTO VANCOUVER
Toronto is the eighth-best city in the world in which to live, according to an alternative ranking from The Economist -- and Vancouver is conspicuously absent from the list. | CP

Toronto is the eighth-best city in the world in which to live, according to an alternative ranking from The Economist -- and Vancouver is conspicuously absent from the list.

Many news sources reported Wednesday that Vancouver and Toronto had dropped on The Economist’s list of liveable cities, with Toronto dropping from fourth place to eighth, and Vancouver disappearing from the list altogether.

PHOTOS: THE 10 BEST CITIES TO LIVE IN, ACCORDING TO THE ECONOMIST'S ALTERNATIVE INDEX

Shocking as that would have been, that’s not exactly what happened. The Economist’s new list is an alternative measure the business publication crowdsourced after its official Liveable Cities Index came in for criticism from some sources.

The Economist selected a winner among proposed criteria to determine what makes a city “best,” and drew up an alternative ranking of cities based on that. Among the new measurements the index looked at were the amount of green space in the city, the degree of urban sprawl, as well as pollution, isolation and cultural assets.

The results surprised even The Economist.

Instead of last year’s winner -- Melbourne, Australia -- the best city to live in instead turns out to be Hong Kong. Vancouver, which ranked third last year after winning the top spot for nearly a decade straight, didn’t place on the list. Toronto took eighth place -- worse than its fourth-place showing in last year’s index, but considerably better than any other North American city.

What’s more, Vancouver’s disappearance from the list seems to have been as a result of its population -- it was apparently too small to be included for consideration under the new criteria -- a move one commenter at The Economist's website described as "ridiculous."

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Toronto's lower position on the list was apparently due to urban sprawl and a relative lack of cultural attractions.

If Canadians are unhappy with the new criteria, they can take heart knowing The Economist feels much the same way.

The criteria “may not have been applied in quite the right way, since the resulting list comes up with a few oddities,” The Economist admits.

Among the “oddities” is Hong Kong’s ranking as the best city in the world in which to live -- something about which the magazine is doubtful.

“A generation of [Hong Kong] school children are condemned to carrying asthma inhalers since their little lungs are speckled with contaminants blowing across the harbour from mainland China,” The Economist reports. “That might not sound so livable to some...”

Given The Economist’s own doubts about the new ranking, it's likely the measure of most liveable cities will be in for more reforms in the future. The traditional Liveable Cities Index is released every August.

THE 10 BEST CITIES TO LIVE IN, ACCORDING TO THE ECONOMIST'S ALTERNATIVE INDEX

10 Best Cities: The Economist's Alternative List
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