A first-ever ranking of Canada’s “most youthful” cities puts Toronto on top as the best place for young people to live, work and play, based on metrics such as the cost of a transit pass, monthly rent and concert tickets along with measures of youth unemployment, digital access and crime stats.
The index, to be published Wednesday by Youthful Cities, a Toronto-based social enterprise, examines how attractive 13 Canadian cities are to people between the ages of 15 and 29.
The rankings are based on 121 different indicators – collected by young people across Canada − and weighted by using an opinion survey of youth on what matters most to them. It’s a work in progress with longer-term plans to create an advisory panel and to be published annually.
Young people “feel that youthful cities are more prosperous, have better economies, better social connectedness, attract more entrepreneurs and are generally happier places” and that makes them attractive for youth and for people of all ages, said Robert Barnard, co-founder of Youthful Cities, a for-profit with a social purpose .
The index come as demographics in Canada are shifting: For the first time ever, seniors outnumber children, according to 2016 census data, a change that is reshaping everything from the labour market to health-care demand and the tax base. Municipalities will need to attract, engage and retain young people to their cities – and jobs market − or risk losing out.
Youth “are needed more than ever before in our aging society and yet they are more mobile – youth vote with their feet,” the report said, adding that its 2016 survey found seven in 10 North American youth said they would leave their current city in the next several years. “Competition for this important labour force will intensify, yet there is a crisis of youth engagement in our cities.”
The rankings are based on data collected from sources such as the census and Statistics Canada, along with municipal sources and university reports. Data collection for this study was between September, 2016, and December, 2017. It is weighted according to 20 areas that were deemed important to youth, taken from a previous global survey.
The ranking of 13 cities places Toronto at the top followed by Vancouver and Montreal. St. John’s and Hamilton land at the bottom.
Toronto leads the country because of its diversity and civic engagement. Canada’s largest city – where youth comprise a fifth of the population − scores well in entrepreneurship and creative arts. It fares worse in some areas such as accessibility of free WiFi, commuter time by transit and the cost of rent.
Montreal outperforms other cities in digital access and transit, along with food, music and nightlife – but fares comparatively worse on health (due to a lower legal age for buying cigarettes).
St. John’s is at the bottom, with lower ratings for walkability, youth unemployment and diversity. Hamilton scored poorly for its lack of free WiFi and the absence of security measures on its public transit.
The Canadian index comes after the same organization produced a global ranking of youthful cities, in 2015, which listed New York as the top city in the world for young people, followed by London and Berlin. Toronto was the top Canadian city in the global rankings, in sixth place.
This isn’t the first ranking that touts Toronto’s advantages. A 2015 global “youth economic strategy” index, for the Citi Foundation, listed Toronto as the best city in the world for youth of 35 cities measured.
More details and graphs at The Globe and Mail.
Source: Tavia Grant, The Globe and Mail, 9 May 2018.