Toronto scored high marks for quality of life and stable national politics. Ease of commute, not so much.
Quality of life and a stable political environment help make Toronto the fourth most attractive place in the world in which to live and work, according to a new report from consulting firm PwC.
But traffic congestion is one factor that pulled Toronto down a peg from its third-place position in 2012.
The study, called Cities of Opportunity, ranks 30 cities around the world on what it takes to be a well-balanced place to live and work, including education and technology, quality of life and the natural environment.
London took the top spot in the ranking for the first time, stepping ahead of second-place New York. Singapore rounded out the top three.
Toronto has many positive qualities and the potential to emerge as a hub of innovation, said Raj Kothari, GTA managing partner at PwC.
The rankings slip is driven by the challenge Toronto faces on gridlock and congestion, he said.
“Though we have outstanding models of public transportation and in the safety and reliability of that system, our problems are ease of commute and traffic congestion,” Kothari said.
“That is going to be the challenge for Toronto and for that we will need collaboration between city, business and community leaders.”
Toronto’s lack of downtown access to Pearson International Airport, for instance, was among the factors that pulled it down in the survey.
The Union Pearson Express, the rail link between Union Station and the airport, is scheduled to open next summer.
“In a year’s time, we will have that gateway access,” Kothari noted. “I don’t know if that will be enough to pull us back to third or not.”
The estimated annual cost of congestion in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area in 2006 was $6 billion, according to a study released last year by Metrolinx.
Toronto also received low grades for overall technology readiness. That’s defined as Internet access in schools, broadband quality, software development and digital economy.
These variables are important because, taken together, they affect the city’s growth and ability to attract foreign investments and business, PwC said.
Toronto’s strengths included the ease of doing business and its relatively stable national political environment.
The city also garnered high marks for sociopolitical stability, health care, culture and natural environment, education and infrastructure. Taken together, these indicate overall quality of life, PwC said.
Toronto placed second behind first-place Stockholm for health, safety and security.
The study, published every two years, is based on public data from organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, national statistical organizations and commercial data providers. Data was collected during the last half of 2013. It was supplemented by a global internal survey of approximately 3,000 PwC staff from each city listed in the report.