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Richmond Hill's Canadian-best magnetism starts with innovation, study says

When you think of the GTA as a hotbed of innovation and a magnet for newcomers looking to relocate, the Town of Richmond Hill may not be the first locale that springs to mind. But according to a study of 50 cities conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, the suburban municipality just north of Toronto is among Canada's elite "City Magnets."

"It's not that Richmond Hill blows away everybody on all the indicators," says Mario Lefebvre, director the Conference Board's Centre for Municipal Studies, "but it offers a perfect mix of very well-balanced results across the field." Lefebvre notes that Richmond Hill was second in all of Canada in the "Innovation" category of the study, a result of its high proportion of well-educated citizens and of those employed in the sciences or in computer-related fields. It also did notably well in the "Education" category, partially a result of the high ratio of teachers to students in its school system.

Of course, for some people whose sense of Yonge Street is already oriented north of Steeles, the news was no surprise. "We have always known that Richmond Hill is a great place to live, play and work," said Mayor Dave Barrow in a statement by email. "But it's always nice when it's statistically proven and people outside the community recognize this as well."

The Conference Board of Canada is a non-profit public policy think tank. The report, entitled "City Magnets II: Benchmarking the Attractiveness of 50 Canadian Cities" graded municipalities for their performance in seven major categories thought to be attractive to migrants: Society, Health, Economy, Environment, Education, Innovation, and Housing. Alongside Richmond Hill, Calgary, Waterloo, Vancouver, St. John's and Ottawa also managed an overall "A" grade. Five GTA cities scored "B" grades on the survey (Markham, Vaughan, Oakville, Toronto and Burlington), with the region securing five of the 14 top spots.

Many might have expected the City of Toronto to score better, particularly since it attracts some 85,000 immigrants per year from outside the country, more than any other city in Canada -- surely a testament to its status as a "magnet." But Lefebvre notes that this is partially offset by the 25,000 people per year who migrate out of Toronto to other Canadian cities. "Some of those 25,000 were originally international migrants who decide to move on.... in this case Montreal and Toronto are not doing so well when it comes to inter-city and inter-provincial migration," he says.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies, Conference Board of Canada
Office of Dave Barrow, Mayor, Town of Richmond Hill

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