Vancouver may be the "nicest" city, according to a new survey, but when it comes to livability, major cities in la belle province take top marks.
The recent study commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies found Quebec City and Montreal outrank other cities in Canada when it comes to cost of living, culture, shopping and meeting people.
According to the survey, a quarter of Quebec City residents said the cost of living in their city was excellent, while another 70 per cent described it as good.
Montreal came second in the category with 16 per cent describing it as excellent and 65 per cent saying it was good.
While an earlier Postmedia News report indicated that a quarter of all Canadians had chosen Vancouver as the overall "nicest city in Canada," association executive director Jack Jedwab said it ranked dead last when it came to cost of living, with 57 per cent of respondents describing it as poor.
"There's a funny phenomenon in Vancouver, there's not a lot of people in the middle," he said, noting few Vancouverites described the lost of living as good, let along excellent.
"It's as though there's a big income split in that city. That's what I would think explains that discrepancy."
The Greater Toronto Area, Edmonton and Calgary rounded out the list of least affordable cities to live.
When it came to cultural activities, more than 95 per cent of Montreal and Quebec City residents rated theirs as excellent or good and they were also the most likely to describe their cities as excellent places to meet people and make friends.
Meanwhile, a fifth of Ottawa residents said their city was a bad place to meet people and make friends.
Montreal also earned top marks for shopping with 67 per cent describing it as excellent, followed by Edmonton at 62 per cent, Calgary at 51 per cent and Quebec City at 49 per cent.
People in Toronto (15 per cent), Calgary (14 per cent) and Edmonton (13 per cent) were among the most likely to describe their cities as lousy places to take in cultural activities.
On the subject of job opportunities, Calgarians were most satisfied, with half describing them as excellent and more than a third describing them as good. Quebec City came a close second with 47.6 per cent saying excellent but another 42.9 per cent describing them as good.
A whopping 36 per cent of Torontonians rated job opportunities in their city as poor, followed by 29 per cent of Ottawa residents and 25 per cent of Vancouver residents.
While all Quebec City residents described their city as either excellent or good for raising children — taking the top spot among seven cities — Jedwab was surprised to find Montreal at the bottom of the list in this category.
Despite the province's much touted $7-a-day child care program and overall commitment to children and youth, just 23 per cent of Montreal residents said their city was an excellent place to raise kids.
Some 61 per cent said it was good but more than 16 per cent described it as poor — the largest number of any city.
Quebec City, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal earned top marks for recreation and outdoor activity, while Toronto, Quebec City and Vancouver did well for climate.
"I think overall, Toronto is not a big winner on this thing if we're going to look for some big winner," Jedwab concluded.
"Montreal, I think, comes across fairly strong in this. Vancouver still does reasonably well, it is just clearly a very pricey place to live. Beauty comes at a cost."
The survey of 1,513 Canadians was conducted last month via web panel by Leger Marketing. An equivalent telephone survey would have a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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