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fairest city

The grounds of the Calgary Stampede is shown in this aerial photo with the city of Calgary, Alta., in the background on Saturday, July 07, 2012.Chris Bolin/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper irked some Canadians this week when he declared Calgary the "greatest city" in Canada, but a new survey shows that residents of Cowtown are on his side.

Calgarians report having the best quality of life of Canada's four largest cities, according to an Angus Reid public opinion poll released on Friday.

The poll indicates that residents of Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal are mostly content with their quality of life, but still have concerns. Calgarians reported the highest satisfaction in quality of life, at 87 per cent, followed by Vancouver (82 per cent), Toronto (80 per cent) and Montreal (75 per cent).

Respondents were given a list of eight problems or issues and asked which one is the most important in their community.

In one of Canada's most expensive cities, 33 per cent of Vancouverites surveyed bemoaned a lack of affordable housing as their main concern. In gridlocked Toronto, 32 per cent of respondents cited transit and traffic as most pressing. Respondents in Calgary and Montreal are similarly concerned about health care and hospitals at 23 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.

Infrastructure was pegged as the biggest disadvantage across the four cities. More than 40 per cent of respondents in Vancouver and Calgary said their city is on top of its infrastructure needs, but only 35 per cent of Montrealers and 27 per cent of Torontonians felt the same way. None of the four cities surpassed the 30-per-cent mark on satisfaction with implementing policies to help small businesses.

Calgarians are also the most satisfied with their city politics: 62 per cent of respondents say their current municipal government is doing a "very good" or "good" job. Vancouver ranked second at 42 per cent, but Torontonians' faith dipped to 28 per cent. Montrealers are the least satisfied, at 22 per cent.

The survey also provided respondents with a list of words that could be best used to describe their city. Calgarians gave their city the highest marks as liveable, a place to find a good job, a place to start a business, embracing innovation, and connected and with accessible digital infrastructure. Ninety per cent of people polled said they perceive Calgary as a city "on the rise," compared to 40 per cent of respondents in Montreal.

Citizens of the Big Smoke are proud to label themselves "Torontonians," with 87 per cent of respondents saying the moniker best describes who they are.

The Angus Reid poll was commissioned for CityAge Media's The Innovation City summit, to take place at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto on July 18 and 19. The poll canvassed approximately 400 randomly selected adults who are Angus Reid forum panellists in each of the four cities between July 9 and 11. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 per cent.

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