Senior staff at city hall claim they 'have created and maintained a livable, thriving city where people and businesses want to be' and being ranked # 31 doesn't really matter

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 1st, 2018



Collin Gribbons, a Burlington resident with significant depth in public transit matters, wrote in to say he “looks forward to the hemming and hawing as most of the current members of Council try to explain this one away.”

Gribbens Collin A Bfast

Collin Gribbons

Gribbons was commenting on the significant change in Burlington’s position on the MoneySense magazine listing of the best places to live in Canada.

For a number of years Burlington ranked at the very top – then there was a sudden drop from # 1 to # 31 – which is precipitous by any standard.

The “hemming and hawing” Gribbons was expecting came from Kwab Ako-Adjei, Senior Manager Government Relations & Strategic Communications who said: “We are fortunate to have beautiful natural features, rural area, escarpment and lake, but also have created and maintained a livable, thriving city where people and businesses want to be. Out of 415 cities and towns Burlington ranked as the sixth best mid-sized city and fourth best place in Canada in which to retire; Burlington scores very well.

“We also noticed that the new methodology is rewarding growth in mid-size communities, many fast-growing municipalities have jumped to the top of the list.”

Gribbons in his comments to the Gazette did point out that “The rankings were always skewed by things that didn’t really make a city a good place to live. For example, MoneySense awarded points based on how many cars a family had (the more the better), how old they were (under three years = good) and average incomes (higher=better).

“None of these have much to do with the overall quality of life in a city for the average working stiff. Maybe this year they’ve changed their scoring system to put more emphasis on things like walkability (very poor outside of downtown), the availability of transit and City spending on things that actually help people, as opposed to pouring millions into a marina that will serve only 100 or so boaters.

“Perhaps they even took into account the way Council completely ignored anyone who opposed the way developers are taking over city planning.”

The differences of opinion on why the drop in the rankings took place and what they mean could go on forever – Burlington tends to hang on to some issues like an old dog with a bone.

The ranking were editorial fluff from a magazine that wants to grow its readership. We can put this one to rest now.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

9 comments to Senior staff at city hall claim they ‘have created and maintained a livable, thriving city where people and businesses want to be’ and being ranked # 31 doesn’t really matter

  • Ben Tuinman

    As part of this conversation whether Burlington is a great City in which to live, the following :
    Some of the city’s main arteries are in VERY BAD condition, and need resurfacing very urgently! Example : Out of city tourists travelling to the RBG and exiting off Hwy 403 towards Plains Rd W are in for a very unpleasant surprise, and wonder about our City’s good reputation. This road from Waterdown Rd to the RBG is absolutely a disaster. I cannot understand why this roadway has not been resurfaced long ago, since its importance to a major tourist attraction. Shame on our City staff’s planning department and their failings to understand this ! My humble opinion. B.T.

  • Lucy

    In the methodology section explaining ranking it states:

    The demographics category in the main ranking used to measure the five-year annualized population growth of cities against an ideal rate pegged at slightly above the national average, with cities penalized for growing faster or slower. While it’s true that fast-growing cities can face challenges, we believe those difficulties can be absorbed and addressed if local leaders are effective. We also didn’t want to penalize suburbs of major cities that are growing quickly because they’re building a lot of new housing, which is vitally important to address the affordability crisis in Vancouver and Toronto. As far as we’re concerned, if lots of people want to move to a city, that’s a good sign — and if the municipality is doing a bad job of handling that growth, it’s likely to be reflected in other areas of the ranking.

    Perhaps, the key is having local leaders who are effective. Somehow, Burlington got off track these past four years. It isn’t just about growing at all costs, it is about growing wisely!

    • Tom Muir

      Local leaders have never been effective in managing growth. It’s never enough, and usually too little, in their minds. That is what we see now.

      It’s the obsession, or addiction, with growth, endlessly more and bigger, that’s the problem, not the solution.

      We are accelerating to another world we will not like. We can readily see the amplifying push back from this path, but our leaders won’t change, and they just rationalize it.

      It seems change must be forced on us.

      People need to survey the literature on growth of the last 20 years.

      I can’t tell about it here right now. I’ve tried before to no effect. Maybe later.

  • Stephen White

    “We also noticed that the new methodology is rewarding growth in mid-size communities, many fast-growing municipalities have jumped to the top of the list.”

    So…does this mean: 1) the City doubts the veracity of the survey and its methodology; or 2) the methodology and the survey are sound, it’s that the other “fast-growing municipalities” have better leadership than us; or 3) we are standing still and others are catching up; or 4) we are backsliding, and others are surpassing us; or 5) Burlington isn’t growing, but other communities are; or 6) the City hasn’t a clue, and any explanation or excuse will do so long as it shuts down discussion and debate.

    Note to Senior Manager of Government Relations and Communications: communications is actually intended to enlighten, clarify and enhance understanding, not convolute the message.

  • Tom Muir

    So basically, the PR job people at City Hall say none of it matters, it’s all perception, and here is ours.

    Oh, are we surprised at what they say?

    We will see at election time whether the people of the city think the same, and have the same perception.

    Do they believe the PR claims of creating and maintaining a livable, thriving city, where people and business want to be?

    Do they buy the idea that a drop from #1, that was broadcast loudly, to #31, which significance is denied, doesn’t matter?

    That perhaps it doesn’t signal the changes and turmoil of recent times, that end the “maintaining” part of the city livability and thriving, and that has more people unhappy and speaking out than ever before?

    Wishful thinking by city PR? Of course.

    Part of the long con.

    In any case, we will see.

  • Penny

    What does it say about a city that touts walking, cycling and not using our cars when the signage on Brant Street says ‘WAIT FOR THE GAP” instead of PEDESTRIANS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY” where people are trying to cross the road. Can anyone tell me what Wait for the Gap means?

    It will be interesting to see if Mayor Goldring continues to tout Burlington as the best city to live in. There is no doubt that Burlington is a nice city to live in. The BEST- not so much.

    • rob n

      No kidding Penny! Burlington is THE only city I have ever been that has a “Wait for gap” sign. It is amazing to see this sign as pedestrians generally have the right of way over bikes and cars and buses in this Province.

      Wait for the gap means cars have the right of way. Pedestrians are on their own crossing the road. Try a sign like that in Europe and traffic will come to a standstill. The drivers will brake for you even if you don’t have the right of way. (At least in Spain, France and Italy)

  • Allen Jones

    Hopefully all this will change for the better when Marianne is elected. Sure hope so.