Courtesy of Michael Gil via Flickr Creative Commons

The view of Toronto from Lake Ontario. (Courtesy of Michael Gil via Flickr Creative Commons)

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?

Courtesy booledozer via Flickr Creative Commons

Project: Under Gardiner is set to revamp the passageway underneath the expressway. (Courtesy booledozer via Flickr Creative Commons)

#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.

Courtesy of Dylan Passmore via Flickr Creative Commons

The new bike lanes on Bloor Street. (Courtesy of Dylan Passmore via Flickr Creative Commons)

#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.

Metrolinx's map for Toronto LRT improvements. (Courtesy of Himy Syed via Flickr Creative Commons)

Metrolinx’s map for Toronto LRT improvements. (Courtesy of Himy Syed via Flickr Creative Commons)

#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.

Courtesy of Alex Guibord via Flickr Creative Commons

The Student Learning Centre at Ryerson University. (Courtesy of Alex Guibord via Flickr Creative Commons)

#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.

Courtesy of wyliepoon via Flickr Creative Commons

The Union Pearson Express at Union Station. (Courtesy of wyliepoon via Flickr Creative Commons)

#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.

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