B.C. is home to the Top 4 cities in Canada with the highest-ranked quality of life, according to new U.S. research from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The report, soon to be published in the Canadian Journal of Economics, found that Victoria provides the highest quality of life in Canada, followed by Vancouver, Kelowna and Abbotsford. All of the four B.C. cities ranked ahead the usual contenders: Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. “Overall, it seems that Canadians really like the West, and they really like B.C.,” said lead author David Albouy, assistant professor of economics at the University of Michigan.
“It’s got great geography and a great climate, which is pretty unique to Canada. Toronto has got great culture, but it just can’t match the magic of B.C. “And one thing we found was Canadians really put a high value on climate and B.C. offers some relief from the cold climate.” The report says Victoria has the greatest quality of life; Toronto has the highest productivity; and Vancouver has the most valuable combination of both. The researchers found that Toronto is Canada’s most productive city while Vancouver is valued highest overall.
The most economically-productive cities were Toronto, followed by Calgary, Oshawa, then Vancouver and Ottawa. Canada’s biggest cities — Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary — had above average quality of life and productivity. Smaller cities such as Kelowna and Halifax had above-average quality of life, but below-average productivity, while centres such as Kitchener, Oshawa and Windsor had above-average productivity, but below-average quality of life. Cities that ranked below average for both productivity and quality of life include Moncton, Regina, St. John’s, Thunder Bay and Trois-Rivières.
The report, titled “Quality Of Life, Firm Productivity, and the Value of Amenities Across Canadian Cities,” also breaks down the value of urban amenities to residents and businesses, as well as productivity levels and determined that Vancouver is the most valuable city per hectare, followed by Victoria, Toronto, Calgary, Kelowna and Montreal. Co-authored by Queen’s University’s Casey Warman and New York University’s Fernando Leibovici, the paper determined the rankings using mathematical formulas factoring housing costs, wages and taxes rather than using opinion surveys, used by many similar quality-of-life ranking studies. “It’s different, because we’re looking at people’s actual behaviour,” said Albouy, an urban environmental economist who spent six years studying in Montreal.
“It’s more scientific because we actually measure what people are willing to pay to live in these cities.” One of the surprising outcomes of the study, Albouy noted, was that places Canadians mythologize as great areas to live, such as picturesque P.E.I., aren’t in reality where they actually want to live, according to their economic behaviour. “Canadians have this romantic notion that these outlying areas in Newfoundland or Saskatchewan are just as desirable as anywhere else, and give a lot of money to these provinces to encourage people to stay there, he said. “But it doesn’t actually look like people really want to live there.” firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/elainereporting
Quality of Life Ranking: 1. Victoria 2. Vancouver 3. Kelowna 4. Abbotsford 5. Toronto 6. Calgary 7. Montreal 8. Sherbrooke 9. Ottawa 10. Barrie
Productivity Ranking: 1. Toronto 2. Calgary 3. Oshawa 4. Vancouver 5. Ottawa 6. Windsor 7. Guelph 8. Kitchener 9. Hamilton| 10. Montreal
Total Value Ranking: 1. Vancouver 2. Victoria 3. Toronto 4. Calgary 5. Kelowna 6. Montreal 7. Ottawa 8. Abbotsford 9. Guelph 10.Hamilton — Source: Quality Of Life, Firm Productivity, and the Value of Amenities Across Canadian Cities, National Bureau of Economic Research
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