Toronto ranked first globally in Youthful Cities index

by | Nov 26, 2013 | News


By Lisa Mayor

Toronto has been ranked number one in the Youthful Cities index. Berlin came in second and New York City pulled a close third-place. The index was released yesterday by an organization called Youthful Cities, which ranks 25 cities across the world in 16 categories that affect young people and the youthfulness of a city.

Toronto’s first-place ranking came from a collective 843.85 points, including a top-five placing in the following nine categories:

  • Diversity (first place)
  • Music and film (second place)
  • Digital access
  • Youth employment
  • Financial access
  • Economic status
  • Food and nightlife
  • Fashion and art
  • Public space
  • Sport and gaming

Toronto came 23rd overall in civic participation and 18th overall in safety and mental health, hitting almost the bottom of these categories.

Robert Barnard is a Toronto co-founder of Youthful Cities.

He told Humber News the rankings are composed, for categories like music and film, by number of events and the cost of attending them. Toronto came second in the music and film category, and Barnard said he attributes that directly to the number of music festivals and film festivals in Toronto, as well as the cost of attending these kinds of events.

Barnard said the results for developing cities were surprising.

“We were surprised, and pleasantly so, that a lot of emerging cities around the world are starting to challenge older cities [in the rankings],” he said. “In the top ten, I think more traditional cities like Paris and London kind of dropped down the list a little bit, and you had Berlin, a pretty modern city, and Toronto and New York in the top three.”

“In some ways, we found when you take a broad look, cities like Johannesburg came 14th,” he said.

Barnard said the initiative to start Youthful Cities came from a need to get youth involved in building better cities.

“We wanted to find a way to rank and measure cities from a youth perspective and on a global scale,” he said.

Toronto didn’t place well in civic engagement or safety and mental health, Barnard said.

The civic participation category ranks the percentage of people ages 15-29, the voting age, the average age of city council, youth voter turnout and political influence of young people. Safety and mental health ranks the number of suicides per capita and homicides per capita.

Humber post-graduate radio broadcasting student Derek Allan told Humber News he thinks there are several factors contributing to the low civic engagement of youth.

“Young people don’t see how they can affect change through voting,” Allan said. “The politicians aren’t speaking our language.”

The diversity ranking, where Toronto ranked number one in the world, looks at factors like languages to vote in, diversity of food, and openness to LGBT, immigrants and religion. Music and film, where Toronto came second overall in the world, looks at film festivals per capita, cost of movie tickets, music festivals and the cost of attending a concert.

Berlin, second place overall, came first in internal transportation and beat Toronto for first place in music and film. Like Toronto, Berlin scored low in civic participation, unlike overall third-place winner New York City, which placed first in the category. The index’s website said the category is one these regions often score poorly in overall.

New York also came second in youth employment, and had the lowest score in education access next to Istanbul.

Their website says the ranking is a, “call-to-action¬†for youth, urban planners, politicians, academics, activists, and everyday citizens to get involved in creating the most dynamic, driven, and developed cities of tomorrow.”