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Toronto narrowly defeated Berlin and New York for the top honours. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto narrowly defeated Berlin and New York for the top honours. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Toronto named ‘most youthful’ city in the world Add to ...

As if Toronto wasn’t, um, trendy enough these days, now Canada’s largest urban centre has beat 25 other cities to win the “most youthful” title.

In a new international ranking – which uses census data, municipal statistics, crime rates, and a fledgling youth survey – Toronto narrowly defeated Berlin and New York for the top honours.

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According to the results, Toronto, the only Canadian city on the list, placed first for diversity, and in the top five in nine out of sixteen other categories, including economic status, music and film, food and nightlife and public space. One big factor was a relatively high minimum wage compared to other cities on the list.

Toronto fared more poorly in civic engagement, ranking 23rd (although perhaps there’s a renewed appetite of late for municipal politics.) And fell near the bottom for safety and mental health, which was based largely on crime statistics and suicide rates.

The ranking itself is new, and on the YouthfulCities website there isn’t much data to support how DECODE, a Canadian youth-focused marketing company that created the initiative, actually produced their results. The youth survey conducted in 25 cities got about 1600 respondents, and wasn’t random enough, as DECODE admits, to be representative.

Also, DECODE is based in Toronto, so they respond to any accusations of bias, but pointing out they also have an office in London, and the data speaks for itself. (How much data they may have in future, however, is questionable, given that Statistics Canada has cut several of its big surveys, including the long form census.)

But it’s not entirely clear how much a city’s level of nightlife and fashion is a sign of overall urban health – American research, in fact, suggests that high school graduation rates and higher percentages of families with kids may be better measurements of economic success than a big population of lively 15 to 29-year-olds.

Even urban planner Richard Florida, who coined the term Creative Class, pointed out in a recent post a new study that found that “diversity” is often incompatible with “community.”

Still, methodology (and clever publicity strategy) aside, in a heavily urbanized country where seniors tend to drive social policy, there’s value to trying to kick-start a more youth-focused discussion around what makes cities work. And given Toronto’s more recent claim to fame, perhaps it’s the ideal place to start one.

Follow me on Twitter: @ErinAnderssen

 

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