PDA

View Full Version : Mercer Report - Where's Edmonton?



cara
12-04-2006, 11:32 AM
Edmonton fails again to make list of best cities
Rating system defies common sense

Gary Lamphier
The Edmonton Journal

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mercer Human Resource Consulting released the results of its annual survey of the world's most liveable cities on Monday, and as usual, Edmonton is nowhere to be found.

For the record, Alberta's capital city is the sixth largest in Canada, it boasts the nation's fifth-largest metro economy, and it led the country in economic growth in 2005. No matter. The folks at Mercer can't seem to find us on the map.

Once again, Mercer's annual Worldwide Quality of Living Survey ranks Vancouver as the best city in Canada in which to live, and number 3 worldwide, behind Zurich and Geneva. Vienna and Auckland round out the top five. Among Canada's other major cities, Toronto ranks 15th, Ottawa 18th, Montreal 22nd, and Calgary 25th. As for Edmonton, well, there's always next year.

One might wonder why such global power towns as Bangui, Central African Republic (213th), is ranked in Mercer's survey, while Edmonton is treated like the guy with bad breath at the office cocktail party.

I tried to get some answers by calling Mercer's offices in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, San Francisco and, eventually, Toronto, where a nice lady named Danielle Bushen patiently answered my questions, in the same way one explains the real world to a pimply faced 14-year-old.

"We look at about 215 cities around the world and we focus on major metro centres -- that is, major centres of finance or locations that have a lot of developing market influence," she said.

"For that reason we've included Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. And then Ottawa is the capital. But those are the only cities in Canada that are included in our study."

Well then, glad we sorted that out. If you're not a "major centre of finance" or a city with "developing market influence" -- whatever that means -- it seems you don't make the grade with the folks at Mercer.

Vancouver's high ranking, it turns out, is due mainly to its moderate climate and natural beauty. The city's corporate sector may be shrinking fast, and its house prices may be obscene, but for Mercer's well-heeled executive clientele, the city's natural setting apparently trumps such minor irritants as paying the mortgage.

Fortunately, for the other 99 per cent of us -- i.e., those of us who weigh such banal matters as housing costs, income levels and local unemployment rates in deciding where to live or work -- there's a new source of information on the liveability of Canadian cities.

On Monday, Toronto-based MoneySense magazine released its first annual survey of the best places to live in Canada. After compiling data in a variety of categories for 108 small, medium and large cities across the country, MoneySense ranked them from top to bottom.

The results may surprise you.

Topping the list is tiny Leamington, Ont., Canada's southernmost city, which ranked high in most categories including local weather conditions, population growth, household income, house prices and unemployment levels.

Rounding out the top five Canadian cities are Guelph, Ont., Lloydminster, Sask., Grande Prairie, Alta., and Kitchener, Ont. But perhaps the most interesting findings relate to Canada's six largest cities -- those with metro populations of one million or more.

After crunching the numbers, MoneySense ranked Calgary as Canada's most liveable major city, and ninth overall (just behind Red Deer, and ahead of Halifax).

And number two? Why, it's Edmonton, which ranks 16th overall (behind North Bay, and just ahead of Orillia).

Ottawa-Hull ranks as the third-most liveable major city in Canada and 18th overall. And what about those high profile glamour-puss towns? The ones that rate so highly in Mercer's annual surveys? Well, turns out they didn't fare so well.

Toronto ranks 33rd overall, and fourth among major cities. Vancouver is 69th overall, and fifth among major cities, while Montreal is 75th overall, and dead last among Canada's six largest cities.

"Most rankings tend to be rankings of scenery, so places with spectacular natural locations do very well," said MoneySense editor Ian McGugan.

"What our ranking tends to do instead is emphasize places with quiet, understated virtues. Things that make them well worth living in, but that might not impress the casual passerby."

The MoneySense survey wasn't based exclusively on economic factors. It also considered weather conditions -- including the amount of rain days or days of extreme temperatures annually -- as well as a city's proximity to major water bodies, mountains and universities.

"The closest we came to lifestyle factors was looking at the percentage of people who walked to work, which we considered a key indicator of accessibility," said McGugan.

"Edmonton does pretty well across the board. The cold days are obviously a bit of a drawback, but income levels are extremely high, population growth has been very strong, and unemployment is very low. So the economic factors especially pull Edmonton right up."

One day, the folks at Mercer might even notice.

RichardS
12-04-2006, 11:58 AM
You know, part of me wants to write these survey's off....

However, if these are used in marketing or someone in influence reads this while making their business decision, then we need to pay attention. I guess I have to ask what is the demographic of the Mercer Group's readers...

ShermanT
12-04-2006, 01:30 PM
However, if these are used in marketing or someone in influence reads this while making their business decision, then we need to pay attention.

You know it Richard.

It makes me kind of sad, but that's just motivation to work harder to get Edmonton to the point where magazines rank us automatically (at least somewhere) because we can't be ignored. I don't mind being ranked low nearly as much as not being ranked at all...

Sonic Death Monkey
12-04-2006, 01:32 PM
On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if articles like this are of any benefit. Winnipeg and Halifax aren't in the survey either, but are they stamping their feet and crying about it? This city does come across as whiny at times, sometimes at embarrassing levels.

Every time an out-of-town says something bad about E-town, the powers-that-be do all but ram his head into a toilet and say "You WILL love Edmonton...YOU WILL!!!" (cases in point: Mel Lastman, or the British journalist covering the Worlds) I feared what would have befallen the Brangelina entity if they said anything negative about the city. Anytime we're omitted from some crappy travel guide or a map or a certain TV network that people barely watch anymore, it makes front-page news here. Or if another travel guide criticizes the city, some booster type will respond with "But...but...we have a river valley!!"

I think better promotion of the city - loud ones, boardroom meetings, behind-the-scenes - is the key. Mandel seems to be doing an excellent job without resorting to cutesy sales slogans (unlike his predecessor). But I wish the media, officials and the booster types would hold their heads higher and display a bit more dignity in the process.

ShermanT
12-04-2006, 02:15 PM
I think it is symptomatic of the problem... we are excluded because we are forgettable (but obviously Calgary isn't.. what does that say?). Not everyone realizes why we are excluded, just that we are.

It makes front page news because not everyone is a "loud voice" who can attend "boardroom meetings" and "behind-the-scenes" deals. It's good that those are are doing that, but the average person has no place to direct their energy expect to articles like this. Until there is a place to direct that energy, you will hear more "whining". Otherwise, if you want to stop all of this you have basically said "leave the promotion of this city to those who are rich and powerful and sit there and do nothing".

Sonic Death Monkey
12-04-2006, 02:49 PM
You got a point there, but I'm just saying that over-reaction to being ignored or dissed makes us look like a hick town, the type that boasts about its giant hot dog statue. It fuels the collective inferiority complex of the city. The debacle with the British journalist did nothing more than make us a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.

At least Lamphier balanced the negative with a positive in his article.

LindseyT
12-04-2006, 04:58 PM
On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if articles like this are of any benefit. Winnipeg and Halifax aren't in the survey either, but are they stamping their feet and crying about it? This city does come across as whiny at times, sometimes at embarrassing levels.

But the difference between grouping Edmonton with Winnipeg/Halifax is massive when compared to grouping Edmonton with Ottawa/Calgary.

RichardS
12-04-2006, 05:17 PM
I think better promotion of the city - loud ones, boardroom meetings, behind-the-scenes - is the key. Mandel seems to be doing an excellent job without resorting to cutesy sales slogans (unlike his predecessor). But I wish the media, officials and the booster types would hold their heads higher and display a bit more dignity in the process.

Yep...

Of all people, Gene Simmons said it best when asked whether or not he liked Canada and Canadians...

"Why do you care on what others think of you, why can't you be proud of who you are?"

There were expletives there, like who gives a f*** what they think, but the sentiment was there... ;)

Sonic Death Monkey
12-04-2006, 07:35 PM
I will never forget the time a few years ago when Mike Myers came to town for a cameo in one of those live theatre shows. The CFRN reporter (I think it was Graham Neil) asked him what he thought of Edmonton, and he said "I love Edmonton, it's a great place" but through gritted teeth. I also vaguely recall the last time U2 came to town, a female Global reporter asked Bono the same question......just minutes after he got off the bloody plane.

But why do the local media insist upon foisting this question upon every visiting celebrity, dignitary, athlete or band? Do they really expect them to say the city sucks? Is the collective ego here so fragile that we feel the need to constantly pester our visitors for their approval? "What was that, Mr. President? You don't like it here???" {rams his head into a toilet bowl, flushes} "You WILL love Edmonton...YOU WILL!!!"

cara
13-04-2006, 08:47 AM
SDM I can appreciate where you are coming from, however if Edmontonians are not going to dispute the negative, then we sure better start accentuating the positive.

Edmonton has a lot to be proud of, especially lately, and while I'm not going to start listing things off, I'll show you what I mean:

1. Where was the front page news story about Edmonton being Alberta's top tourist attraction?

2. Where was the headline about Edmonton posting the largest quarter-to-quarter growth in non-residential buildings in the country? (I'll tell you where that headline was...in yesterday's Calgary Herald, Calgary placed third after Regina and yet they found the story newsworthy)

...this is what I'm talking about, why are Edmontonians so quick to jump down the throats of naysayers and those who choose to ignore us, but when we have something legitimate to boast about, we'd choose to keep quiet.

RichardS
13-04-2006, 09:30 AM
...this is what I'm talking about, why are Edmontonians so quick to jump down the throats of naysayers and those who choose to ignore us, but when we have something legitimate to boast about, we'd choose to keep quiet.

That is a similar yet seperate issue in my mind Cara. You are 100% correct that the negative nanny's show up quickly yet the good things are rarely talked about - a source of frustration in my mind, but a possible reason why these magazines ignore us. If we are not proud of ourselves, why should they be?

Downtown East's meeting last night is a great example. The sessions are well organized and the points articulate and clear, yet the boo birds and conspiracy theorists were out in full force and whined, bellyached, and complained without hearing the process out...

cara
13-04-2006, 09:39 AM
All I'm saying is that we rush to defend ourselves when someone insults or ignores us, purely reactionary

Why do we always wait for someone to bash us before we do anything about it...if we're so passionate about defending our city, why are we so shy about promoting it?

RichardS
13-04-2006, 10:55 AM
All I'm saying is that we rush to defend ourselves when someone insults or ignores us, purely reactionary


Yes we do.

C2E will hopefully help change things from within. In the last PROMOTE-Edmonton session, one of our members talked with peers in Vancouver and found that they even noticed a new energy in Edmonton, some thru C2E...

CSR
13-04-2006, 05:11 PM
I will never forget the time a few years ago when Mike Myers came to town for a cameo in one of those live theatre shows. The CFRN reporter (I think it was Graham Neil) asked him what he thought of Edmonton, and he said "I love Edmonton, it's a great place" but through gritted teeth. I also vaguely recall the last time U2 came to town, a female Global reporter asked Bono the same question......just minutes after he got off the bloody plane.

But why do the local media insist upon foisting this question upon every visiting celebrity, dignitary, athlete or band? Do they really expect them to say the city sucks? Is the collective ego here so fragile that we feel the need to constantly pester our visitors for their approval? "What was that, Mr. President? You don't like it here???" {rams his head into a toilet bowl, flushes} "You WILL love Edmonton...YOU WILL!!!"

It's the same everywhere.

Look at Vancouver. I've watched Vancouver media ask the same questions of visting celebs. I've watched Vancouver Media whine about why they were passed over for a concert date or the like... and just look at the fuss Vancouver made when the X-files were leaving over David Duchovny's rain comment!

I've sat in on discussions very much along these lines about London England of all places. If Londoner's can have civic angst then by golly so can we! ;)

That said, I think we as a city do our best stuff when we just do something because we want to, not because we want to look like a big city or because we are worrying about our image.

Sonic Death Monkey
13-04-2006, 07:43 PM
That's interesting because I would have thought that a Vancouver or a Toronto wouldn't really care as much about someone famous visiting their city because they get these people all the time. Look at all the Hollywood film productions they get or the tour stops of most major bands, for instance.