Home CommentaryOpinions Montreal just doesn’t live up to list criteria

Montreal just doesn’t live up to list criteria

by The Concordian September 13, 2011
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Montreal was the greatest city in Canada. My editor, being skeptical and wise, asked me to prove it but I simply could not.
Every once and a while, the Economist, Maclean’s, Moneysense or Travelocity come up with lists numbering off the best places to live or visit. Unfortunately, our beautiful city is never one of them.
The other day, while speaking with my brother, I suggested he move East. His response was relatively straightforward. “I live in the best city in the world,” he replied.
He lives in Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver, and like those of us who have lived in or near Vancouver within the past 20 years, he has gotten used to seeing Vancouver top lists of most livable cities in the world.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Calgary is the sixth best place to live, Toronto is the fourth and Vancouver is the third. (The city was recently toppled from its longtime reign at the top spot by Melbourne and Vienna because of a small highway construction nearby).
The rankings, which are printed by the Economist magazine, are based on over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five categories: stability, health care, culture/environment, education and infrastructure. Montreal is undistinguished in most of those categories, at best. So while we cannot make the worldwide list, why don’t we strive to conquer the Canadian cities?
According to the Moneysense list of Canada’s best cities to live, Montreal came in a paltry 123.
The city scored so low because the crime rate here is high and job prospects are few, while housing prices are high.
In 2011, the Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Vancouver as the number three city to live in worldwide. “Consistently ranking among the cleanest, most livable cities in the world, Vancouver possesses an ethnically-diverse population,” explains the survey. In addition, Vancouver “has become a centre for shipping, film production and a popular tourist destination.”
So what is wrong with Montreal? Why doesn’t it never make the list? Don’t we have all those things?
When you arrive at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, you’ll soon notice that traffic outside is a mess. Imagine a frustrated friend who has been doing laps around the arrival pick-up area, because there is nowhere to stop or park, picking you up.
You drive away through a Mario Kart course of pylons, potholes and turn-offs to arrive on either Highway 20 or 40. Both are currently undergoing major construction work, so do not expect to get home anytime soon. When you finally do get to your friend’s old apartment, remember to stay off the balcony because it may collapse. Also stay out of the emergency rooms without a copy of “Middlemarch,” because you will be there for at least eight hours. Stay out of the way of police officers and taxi drivers, too, because you may get hurt.
All these things may be true, but Montreal still remains the most vibrant and active city in the country. The architecture is unrivaled in Canada, even if the streets are a little dirty. The parks are amazing even if Montreal placed 19th on the US and Canada Green index (Vancouver placed second behind San Francisco.) Going out does not stop in the winter, as it does in Vancouver. Bars are full in January as well as July.
The reality is that Montreal is unlike any other Canadian city. These lists don’t account for soul and, luckily, Montreal seems to care very little where it ranks.

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