We're Number 1

By Ian Austin
Staff Reporter

Vancouver has the world's best quality of life, according to an international human resources firm.

New York-based William M. Mercer ranked 215 cities around the world, and Vancouver came out on top along with Zurich, Switzerland.

Alexa McCallum said her firm took into account 39 factors, everything from recreation and housing to personal safety and infectious diseases.

"Vancouver had to score very near the top in every category to be the top city in the world," said McCallum, who's based in Toronto (No. 19) but hails from Melbourne (No. 12).

"Vancouver was at the top for public transport and traffic management, and had very good scores for crime level, pollution level, and public services."

Vancouver was ranked as one of the four most efficient cities for public transport and traffic management, tying with Copenhagen, Oslo and Singapore.

"It's good in every category--political stability, freedom of speech, health and education,"

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said McCallum. "It's got the lot--it's a winner."

Montreal tied Toronto for No. 19, while Calgary was listed at No. 27.

"This proves that we are a great city, and a fun city, and a great place to work and live," said Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen, attending a conference in Ottawa (not even on the list).

"We have a booming film industry, a booming high-tech and biotech sector, and Vancouver spends $9.5 million to fund 170 festivals a year.

"People love Vancouver, to work and shop and visit." Rounding out the Top 10 are Vienna, Copenhagen, Geneva, Sydney. Auckland, Helsinki, Bern, Frankfurt, and Munich.

Our neighbours to the south didn't crack the Top 10, scoring highest with San Francisco (No. 16), Honolulu (No. 23), and L.A. and Seattle (tied at No. 33)

Other major cities include Tokyo (No. 19), Paris (No. 33), Singapore (No. 35), London (No. 40), and--all tied at No. 44--New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

The William M. Mercer survey is conducted for the company's clients looking to relocate employees in various cities around the world.

McCallum said companies and governments use the survey to determine hardship allowances for employees working in Third World areas. "In other words, if you are going to the Congo then you are probably going to have major problems," said McCallum, noting that Brazzaville, Congo took the dreaded spot No. 215, just behind Baghdad and Khartoum, Sudan.

"If you are going into a country like Canada all of the cities go into the top bracket."

Walt Judas of Tourism Vancouver said the commendation adds to Vancouver's sterling international reputation.

"It's a great honour, and a reflection of Vancouver as a city," said Judas. "From a tourism perspective, we can use that to sell the city."

(text of February 27, 2001 The Province article)