There are a lot of city rankings out there that count a lot of different things. The one that I care the most about and that is nearest and dearest to my heart is the Monocle ones. They are out and apparently have new metrics to include. Only two North Americans cities made the list with Vancouver in seventh and Portland on the last spot of the twenty-five on the list. I’d like to see the added commentary and suggestions for others on the list.
I care about this list more than others in part because I adore Monocle and am waiting for the day that I get to write for them (seriously guys you’re amazing and I will drop everything the minute you ask). I began reading Monocle at the start and have been strongly influenced by their ideas about cities, design, culture and politics. I even have a clipping in my Copenhagen scrapbook from when the city was ranked first a few years back. (Copenhagen is tied for tenth this year reflecting the need to reorder the rankings just because.)
The Vancity buzz article that alerted me to this development wondered why other Canadian cities like Toronto and Calgary weren’t included. I have a couple of suggestions as to why Toronto wasn’t included like poor transit, terrible climate and cost of housing. I don’t think Calgary is going to make the list for several years either. Calgary is not really Monocle material yet. It’s a nice thought and Calgary has a great mayor but it’s a long way off. To do so Calgary will have to continue to urbanize and densify. Calgary needs to grow high streets along some of our dead inner city former suburbs. Calgary has to stop the inner city from being taken over by luxurious mansion like growths (my neighbourhood and many of the ones my friends grew up in are just getting bigger houses instead of townhouses and mixed use). The cycle track pilot project needs to become permanent and then Calgary needs to build a whole lot more bike lanes. Calgary needs to stop closing inner city services and building mega community centres. Hopefully Rachel Notley will give cities new spending powers and then Calgary can build a couple more LRT lines. Monocle really likes investments in transit infrastructure (and so do residents). As it is Calgary is far behind Vancouver on transit, mixed use, services and walkability.
Calgary is also a lot bigger than Vancouver. The way Metro Vancouver is organized the City of Vancouver gets to float as this perfect urban utopia with no sprawl problem. If you look at the metrics for the city vs. the region you see very different stories. In my dream world Calgary would split up into tiny municipalities and a metro region. This is the biggest advantage Vancouver has in terms of planning and service provision over Calgary other than a long head start. Nenshi may be a kickass mayor but he has a lot more problems to deal with than Gregor. It’s a nice thought but Calgary should strive for a making progress mention. If Portland’s in 25th place we’re never making the list.