Volume 92, Issue 3

Friday, May 29, 1998

big business


Don't worry, Torontonians aren't very happy

By Des Stutchbury
Gazette Writer

Despite Toronto's positive international reputation, city residents are not necessarily happier than those living elsewhere in Canada.

A recent study conducted by Paul Grayson, director of York University's Institute for Social Research, compared happiness levels with those in Toronto and other cities. It found that non-english, unemployed, poor and ill people scored poorly on the survey which measured items such as cleanliness, public service, crime rate, cultural venues and overall satisfaction with city life.

Grayson said Toronto is the most ethnically diverse city in the world and this diversity has helped earn the city a high international reputation. However, despite this reputation, he said there is room for improvement. He added 20 per cent of the population reported difficulty in acquiring basic food and clothing.

Grayson said he wished to establish a baseline measurement of happiness for future comparison. He said it was generally clear people in Toronto are satisfied, especially with their municipal government, however, consequences are anticipated because of a forecasted erosion of services.

Case Ootes, deputy mayor of Toronto, said even though the study indicated some unhappiness in the city, it has a great international reputation with the third largest theatre district in the world, behind London, England and New York. Also, Toronto's crime rate is lower than many Canadian cities including the nation's capital, Ottawa.

Despite Grayson's study, Ootes said he is convinced Toronto will become a stronger and more impressive city, especially on account of the new megacity. "People are beginning to appreciate the positive aspect of one mayor, one level of government and we're acquiring a sense of unity," he said.

Ootes admitted however, it might be difficult to predict the future happiness of Toronto's citizens.

Ted Hewitt, associate dean of sociology at Western, said he expected Londoners would also indicate they are happy with life in London. He said although London's ethnic diversity has increased it is still highly homogeneous.

"The educational system, medical services, public service, parks, low crime rate and geographical location add to the overall satisfaction of London residents," he said. Climate, general difficulty in travelling via London's streets and a lack of many cultural activities are factors which might lower some people's rating of London.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998