London cracks top 10 of Canada’s best-managed cities, a magazine report says

London has ranked in the top 10 of Canada’s best-managed cities in a just-released survey in Maclean’s magazine.

The survey, by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, put the Forest City seventh of 31 cities after a study examining which offer the best services at the least cost.
“It’s positive that we’re in the top 10 and our aim is to improve year-to-year, to continue to be successful in managing the corporation,” said Mayor Ann Marie DeCicco-Best.
Burnaby, B.C. ranked No. 1 in the survey and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island last, but two cities — Laval, Que. and Victoria, B.C. — couldn’t be ranked due to incomplete data.
The cities were plotted into four categories — ‘big spenders, but offer a lot;’ ‘great service at a good price;’ ‘uh oh, not good at either;’ and ‘save money, but little service.’

Within the category in which they fell, cities were also measured both for the effctiveness of the services they provide — in other words, how good they are — and the efficiency of their spending.
London fell in the ‘great service at a good price’ category, with more effective services than five of the other nine cities in its category and more efficient spending than five. On both counts, London fared better than the only other regional cites in its category, Guelph and Hamilton.

London city manager Jeff Fielding said he was “pleased” by the report, but admitted it is focused on finance — and a city has to be measured by more than its bottom line. “It shows we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “There are still areas where we have to improve but this does show council and administration are working well together.” The methodology is “weighted toward cost” and concludes London could improve in taxation but provides good service for the money spent. “I think it’s credible,” said Fielding.

One observer, University of Western Ontario political scientist Andrew Sancton, had said before the survey release it’s difficult to know what to make of it since it compares cities of different sizes and between provinces. “It would require a huge effort to standardize data,” he said.

Researcher Bobby O’Keeffe said the institute looked at areas including finance, taxation, police and fire services, transportation, health and environment, water and sewer costs, garbage collection and recreation and culture, measuring “efficiency versus effectiveness.”
“We used a balance scorecard — we balanced all the factors and built a final calculation and grade,” he said.