After sitting pretty at the top of the list last year, Toronto was bumped down to ninth place on Metropolis magazine’s list of the most livable cities in the world.
The New York-based publication had its editors nominate 65 cities from across the globe. The magazine took housing, transportation, sustainability and culture into account when selecting the top 10. Copenhagen took first place, Berlin came in second and Helsinki placed third.
Why did we lose our spot?
The magazine said Toronto’s drop was largely because of major transitions happening in the city. Infrastructure is being overhauled to include new bike lanes, major construction projects and cutting-edge architecture. However, the improvements are causing disruptive congestion in busy areas and housing prices are creeping over $1 million, making affordable and comfortable living hard to attain.
Kyle Rae, a former downtown city councillor and politics instructor at Ryerson University, said that, “The failure of the provincial and federal governments to re-enter the affordable housing sector… has meant that, for most people, the City of Toronto is unable to welcome and house people affordably.”
Rae also said transit is a significant factor affecting Toronto’s livability. “[There] is [a] grinding political failure to apply informed principles in the development of transit and to build transit in a timely fashion,” Rae said.
What is the city doing to improve?
#1) Development of Project: Under Gardiner
Project: Under Gardiner, set to open in 2017, will join seven neighbourhoods together by creating a large, pedestrian-only space. The passageway underneath the Gardiner Expressway will host farmer’s markets, children’s gardens, community gatherings and exhibition halls.
#2) Making major streets bike-friendly
Last month, many Toronto cyclists rode down the new Bloor Street bike lanes for the first time. The city is currently evaluating the impact of the bike lanes on this major street. The analysis will determine the installation of more bike lanes around Toronto in hopes of making the city more cyclist-friendly.
#3) More ways to get around the city without a car
Toronto’s public transit may be dismal, but the city and the province are trying to fix that matter with above-ground public transit options. Their goal is to have fewer cars on the road and get more people taking transit, walking and riding their bikes.
#4) Installation of public spaces that are pedestrian-friendly
The city is looking toward a new design for buildings that represents a pedestrian-oriented city. Spaces that recognize public life, such as the Ryerson Student Learning Centre, allow people to linger and gather in a communal space.
#5) Investments in the central transportation hub, Union Station
Union Station has been undergoing a huge facelift. The improvements include the development of the Union-Pearson Express and the Union Station Revitalization Project, which features a proposal for a culinary, cultural and retail space under the Great Hall at Union Station.