City living swindle

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Great news for Torontonians. Apparently they have one of the most livable cities in the world: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/article/1221075--toronto-ranks-8th-in-world-in-revised-liveability-index

Toronto was ranked 8th out of 70 by one index (…for what it’s worth…lots of cities weren’t considered). Number one was Hong Kong and Osaka was number two.

I dunno. I lived in Toronto. It was fine, I guess. But livable long term? No. One job I had required me to travel an hour and three quarters EACH WAY on public transit. Other jobs averaged a commute of an hour.

Forget a social life. By the time you get home it’s seven or later. You need to be up well before 7 a.m. to start your commute. And just getting to a friend’s house means spending another half hour each way in traffic or on the subway.

The pace is fast. Pedestrians walk fast, people scowl quickly, salaried jobs require long hours, aggression bubbles up to the surface regularly.

Don’t get me wrong: there is an energy to big cities that is appealing. Fun places to visit. Even fun places to live, perhaps, if you’re very wealthy and don’t have to work. For young people there’s always something new.

The cultural assets big cities trumpet are enjoyed rarely by most residents. Access to the opera and the Blue Jays doesn’t make life good. Free time makes life good. A wave from someone you know makes life good. Seeing green plants makes life good. Fresh air makes life good.

If Toronto is one of the most livable cities in the world, that’s an indictment of cities. I like Halifax a lot. It’s at the upper end, though, of how large a city can be before quality of life plummets.

I realize dumping on Toronto is a national pastime for the rest of Canada. I’m not dumping on Toronto. I meant it when I said it’s fine. But it’s not world class, as Torontophiles so like to claim (have they been to other cities?), and I would wager the quality of life for most residents is lower than what’s enjoyed by the majority of Canadians.

By the way, one criticism Toronto doesn’t deserve is the accusation it’s dangerous. Yes, downtown shootings get lots of media play. But Halifax, Fredericton, Saint John and St. John’s all had higher crime rates in 2011, and Nova Scotia’s crime rate was higher than Ontario’s: http://www2.macleans.ca/crime-chart/

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