Three Canadian cities were ranked among the 10 most family-friendly places in the world out of 150 metropolises, according to a recent study Best Cities for Families 2020 conducted by Movinga, a German relocation service.
Quebec City emerged as the world’s second most family-friendly city after the Finnish capital of Helsinki. Calgary was ranked eighth and Montreal ninth, in a top 10 list dominated by European cities such as Oslo (third), Munich (fourth), Copenhagen (fifth), Stockholm (sixth), Reykjavik (seventh) and Gothenberg (tenth).
The study evaluated cities based on housing affordability, living costs, unemployment rate, education, safety, mobility, air quality and health care, along with family-centred topics.
“We began the study by selecting 150 international cities that have a reputation as attractive locations for raising a family. We then split the study into numerous factors across three categories which indicate how family-friendly a location is,” Movinga said in its report. “This included essentials that affect city livability like housing, education, employment rates, and general affordability, as well as family legislation such as the amount of paid parental leave and whether a city is inclusive for same-sex parents.”
Canada and Sweden were the only two countries to land more than one city in the top 10. Ottawa came in at number 14, while Toronto and Vancouver were ranked 34th and 35th, respectively. The highest ranking U.S. city was San Francisco in 24th place; New York came was ranked 69th.
John Miron, a professor of human geography at the University of Toronto, said Toronto’s lower ranking in comparison to cities like Quebec City and Montreal could be because of urban and infrastructure planning that doesn’t consider the needs of children.
“Toronto has a very large number of apartment buildings and townhouses, housing that’s not really very friendly towards children. It’s just a more dense pattern of development,” he said.
“When young families look around, they increasingly despair because they may want to live in inner-city Toronto, but they just can’t find suitable housing. So, they go into outlying areas and they do find it.”
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Miron referenced increasing traffic, decreasing lot size and increasing land usage through mainly surface public transit as some of the changes in Toronto that have made the city less safe for families with children.
While Toronto scored similarly to other Canadian cities on the list in the safety category, in mobility, Toronto fell well below the Canadian cities in the top 10.
The study used a survey of parents in each city to determine the family-related factors and available government data for other city livability factors.