Because of the Malahat:

It was not the riots that did it. Instead it was an adjustment in Vancouver’s score for transport infrastructure, “reflecting recent intermittent closures of the key Malahat highway that resulted in a 0.7 percentage point decline in the city’s overall livability rating,” said the report.
[For out-of-town readers, the Malahat Highway is here at A – on Vancouver Island, about 80 kilometres away, mostly across open water.  A bit like deducting points from Melbourne for traffic problems in Tasmania.]
But actually, the really silly part is this:
The top three cities stacked up equivalent points for the indicators of stability, health care and education, with Vancouver scoring much higher than Melbourne and Vienna for culture and environment …
Culture?  I don’t care how beautiful we are, to even put Vancouver in the same class as Vienna culturally is, um,  more than an 80-km stretch.
UPDATE: Philip Langdon at New Urban Network has an opinion too:

Top Ten surveys, even when they try to be scientific, always have a high degree of arbitrariness. But the residents of Vancouver, British Columbia, have grown accustomed to seeing their city at the top of worldwide rankings of urban livability, and they’re chagrined to see it slip to third place on the latest Livability Ranking produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

They have good reason to doubt the ranking’s veracity. 

More here. 


  1. Vancouver has been steadily dropping in the annual Monocle list (not online) for the last three years and we’re now 20/25.

    Although some aspects of Monocle’s weighting are odd to me, their comments indicate a solid local knowledge. In previous years they’ve recommended adding better rail transport to Seattle and Portland and light rail throughout the valley, and criticized the city for not preserving grit and for not taking enough risks with architecture.

  2. These rankings they are talking about are designed for use by employers assigning hardship allowances as part of job relocation (and we are talking about executive class employees not regular schmucks). They have nothing to do with regular people living regular lives in Vancouver. As a side note I am not sure exactly what executives would be even moving into Vancouver given out lack of real corporate HQs (aside from crown corps) and a few junior mining operations that seem to be bought and sold on a monthly basis

    Livability for normal people in Vancouver would most likely put Vancouver at the bottom if cost of living was to be included in the equation.

  3. Vancouver’s great livibility is a large part of the reason for the high housing costs.
    If vancouver goes down to third, maybe the developers will lower their asking price, because they lack the line on their sales ad that boasts that vancouver is most livable. To add to that, investors may look now to Vienna for the “most livable” city, thus reducing demand here, and reducing prices. That’s the good that may come out of the downgrade.

    1. Sure, developers can’t put a line on their sales ad boasting about Vancouver’s Economist ranking, but I can’t see this “downgrade” having any material effect on the city’s real estate market whatsoever. It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine a Chinese businessman with money in his pocket looking to Vienna instead of Vancouver because some magazine’s ranking model vastly overvalued the importance of a road closure on the Malahat. The explanation for Vancouver’s fall to third just shows how silly these rankings are, and I can’t imagine investors with serious money pay any attention to them when making decisions.

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