Is it? Is Calgary Canada’s most liveable city? I wouldn’t dare answer the question. My fellow Calgarians might bridle at my response.
But the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) dares. And they say yes, it is. In fact they rate it with Zurich, Switzerland as the third most liveable city in the world. In their annual rankings, two other Canadian cities make the top 10, but Vancouver is in fifth place and Toronto in eighth.
The praise just keeps coming. As far back as 2014 I was posting about The New York Times no less ranking Calgary 17th out of the globe’s 52 top travel destinations. “Flush with oil money,” the Times chirped, “Calgary has morphed from ho-hum city on the prairie into a cultural hub, with offerings far beyond the Stampede, the annual rodeo and festival.”
And The Guardian, Britain’s premier daily, chose Alberta as ninth on their list of top 40 destinations for the same year, raving that Calgary “has gone from cowboy town to cosmopolitan cool.”
Who was I to disagree with the prestigious Times and Guardian then and who am I to disagree with the EIU now?
The EIU, sister company to The Economist newspaper, ranked 172 cities, rating each one for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
And who did the EIU dare rank ahead of us? Vienna was number one and Copenhagen number two. We are in very good company indeed.
One criteria that couldn’t have been considered was the state of downtowns. Ours was hollowed out by the oil bust and was never particularly exciting anyway. The places to be lie largely in the inner city, my neighbourhood the Beltline being perhaps the best example. But then the downtown will bounce back to some extent with our current boom and the city fathers have big plans for much of the empty space, so maybe downtowns were considered after all. Or maybe the rating agencies just catch us in boom times.
To quote Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek: “Our climb in the rankings for Most Liveable City reflects the welcoming nature of our city, its affordability and the opportunity offered to entrepreneurs. We are exuding optimism and inviting people to join us in shaping our future.” So there you are, from an unbiased source.