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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do You Believe Calgary is #1 Eco-City in the WORLD?

Mercer's Quality of Living and Eco-City survey of 221 cities world wide does not likely include Edmonton.  Not sure but if it were to find Calgary at the top ranking Eco-city in the world something is fishy about the survey.  Calgary has lots of merits but beyond the public transit system it is hardly a top ranked eco-city.  It has the largest number of cars per capita in Canada and is urban sprawl writ large...and that is still the norm in Cowtown with 100% of its growth in the suburbs.

Mercer says it used the following criteria for eco-ranking.  Water availability, water potability, waste removal, sewage, air pollution and traffic congestion.  Water availability is a serious problem for the future of Calgary.  In fact there was a restriction put on industrial use of water a few years ago.  Calgary suffers from water shortages and with the growth it has endured, that will only become more critical.  Only recently has Calgary metered water and that met with serious resistance I understand. Quality of water in Alberta is excellent almost everywhere with notable exceptions.  Waste removal and recycling are not big items in the Calgary civic culture - at least not compared to Edmonton.  Edmonton has a long standing and extensive blue box recycling system and city owned composting plant and even recycles Christmas trees.  As for traffic congestion with the largest per capita car population and the Deerfoot Trail rush hour "parking lot" and narrow downtown street system, traffic congestion is a serious problem for Calgary.

This is not a knock against Calgary.  It is  very livable city with lots going for it.  But to rank it as #1 Eco-City in the WORLD?  That stretched credulity. Mercer needs to broaden and deepen its Eco-City criteria and look to other locales for comparisons - especially in Canada.