Vancouver the second most ‘youthful’ city in Canada: report

May 21, 2018

By Harrison Mooney, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver is the second most “youthful” city in Canada, according to a new national index.

The Youthful Cities 2018 Canadian Index, published Wednesday by Toronto-based Youthful Cities, measures how attractive 13 major Canadian cities are to youth — defined as people between the ages of 15 to 29.

The Youthful Cities index aims to show where cities can improve their appeal to youth and where they are excelling. Youthfulness, after all, is strongly tied to things like innovation, which cities need to thrive.

“Cities around the world are competing to become more livable, smart, innovative and desirable,” said YouthfulCities co-founder Robert Barnard. “Simply put, cities are competing to become more youthful — more connected, dynamic, curious, open, inventive and playful.”

The index is based on 20 “Urban Attributes” — priorities for the youth demographic — which encompass a total of 121 indicators and are separated into three groups: live, work and play. “Live” encompasses health, transit, safety, diversity and environmental factors. Play includes music, film, fashion and other creative arts, sports, food and nightlife. Work includes employment, education, and affordability.

Adding all the indicators together, each city is scored out of a total of 1,643 points, although only two earned more than 1,000.

The first of these is Toronto, which scored a 1033.63, closely followed by Vancouver at 1006.00.

Unfortunately, the cities were not graded on a curve, and while Toronto and Vancouver led the pack, their scores were only good enough for C-grades, according to Youthful Cities.

“Clearly, Canadian cities have work to do,” said Robert Barnard, co-founder of Youthful Cities. “The good news is: every city in the Index ranks near or close to the top in one or more categories, and that is a starting point for each of these cities to build upon.”

Vancouver saw its best marks in the “live” attributes, finishing first in environment, second in digital access (WiFi accessibility, mobile phone infrastructure development), safety and transit, and third in both civic engagement and diversity.

Unsurprisingly, Vancouver also finished dead last in affordability. Seeing as youth don’t typically have much money, that’s a problem.

But Vancouver also did poorly in categories where one might think the city excels, such as film.

“For a diverse and buzzing Canadian city, Vancouver is lacking on the film attribute,” the report explained. “Vancouver only has 5 film festivals (compared to 52 in Toronto), which would be a good area for city-builders to turn their attention. New film festivals would provide more opportunities for young people to experience the arts, and potentially become filmmakers themselves.”

Vancouver is lacking in other aspects of the play category as well, landing in the top three in only one attribute: public space, where it placed first.

In short, Vancouver is a beautiful place for young people to live and work, but between the lack of nightlife and high cost of living, a tough one to enjoy.

You probably knew all that, but these are the reasons young people may consider going elsewhere as they begin to lay down roots and, thus, the things Vancouver must address in the future if it hopes to maintain its youthfulness.

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