Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

“Vancouver drops from number 1 spot”

with 6 comments

The Vancouver Sun this morning reports on the Economist’s latest Liveability Index

“Vancouver drops from number 1 spot in livability survey for first time in nearly a decade” bleats the headline

Thanks to the Globe and Mail I have been able to find a link to the EIU survey. (WARNING – you do NOT get to read the report unless you buy it – and only the summary in return for registration. The EIU site is really really slow right now too.) The Sun does not do that. What was no surprise was the reason given – our transportation system. Until I read this

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.

This quote was published without comment by either the Sun or the Globe. Frankly I cannot believe that a quality newspaper can be quite so sloppy. The Malahat is on Vancouver Island. It is really important to Victoria and Nanaimo but not Vancouver. Can they be serious? Now if they had said Highway #1 and left it at that I would not be at all surprised. The current construction of the freeway expansion and the now half completed replacement Port Mann Bridge is indeed reducing the quality of service on that Highway. So have various closures in the interior but I doubt very much if many people who live and work in Vancouver were affected by that. Anymore than Malahat closures affect them.

Since it is inside the quote it shows that the EIU’s standards are slipping. Not ours (though Canadian newspapers should have said something). As if it matters.

For the sake of completeness here is a chunk from the Globe story

The Malahat Highway north of Victoria was closed for 22 hours in April after the crash of a fuel tanker truck.

Many Vancouverites are wondering why a highway closure on Vancouver Island — about 60 kilometres away — would affect the city’s score.

But Jon Copestake of the EIU told Global TV the ranking reflects what he calls “regional” traffic issues.

“The adjustment is miniscule, and should not be considered significant in the context of the overall score, but it was sufficient to drop Vancouver to third position behind Melbourne and Vienna,” the report said.

And when I went onto flickr I found this image on Raul Pacheco‘s photo stream. (It is Creative Commons licensed)

malahat and livability

UPDATE next day the Globe is still following up - there is an interview with the writer who wishes he had picked a better example – and the story was a trending topic on Twitter (oh wow). August was always known as “the silly season” on Fleet Street. This will all be forgotten after Labour Day. Meanwhile The Economist is sticking to its guns – and it still thinks the Malahat is within the Metro Vancouver region. Do these guys know how to use Google Maps?

UPDATE Friday September 2

Tweet 2011-09-02 at 8.01.59 AM - They are proud of the story trending!

Written by Stephen Rees

August 30, 2011 at 7:45 am

Posted in Transportation

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6 Responses

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  1. I submit that the Vancouver Sun is not a “quality newspaper”, especially in terms of pimping real estate in Vancouver. The Sun has been taking the Economist Livability Index out of context for quite some time. The “Livability rankings are designed for use by employers assigning hardship allowances as part of job relocation.” They are not a rank for average citizens who live in Vancouver.

    Livability for normal people in Vancouver (not corporate executives making $300,000 a year that the Economist rankings are aimed at) puts Vancouver at the bottom, not the top. The difference between local incomes and local real estate costs is amongst the worst in the world. Vancouver is a resort town for the rich. Jobs in Vancouver pay poorly and the job market is worsening as the magnificent real estate bubble in Vancouver drives away business.

    Randobarf

    August 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm

  2. Thanks for linking to my screen capture, Stephen. As I commented on my research blog paying attention to the EIU rankings is not a good idea, unless of course you’re a rich ex-pat (in which case you might want to pay attention to them – that’s what they were designed for).

    Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD

    August 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm

  3. I lived in Burnaby for three years, and somehow never made it out to the Island. When I read that Vancouver’s ranking was cut because of closures on “the key Malahat highway,” my first reaction was, “where the hell is the Malahat highway?”

    Scott from Ohio

    August 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

  4. Putting aside how sensible it is to include crashes on Vancouver Island in a livability ranking for Vancouver there is another question for the Vancouver Sun. Whatever happened to a follow-up report or some investigative journalism about the Vancouver Island fuel tanker crash that caused the Economist to change its rating of Vancouver on nearby North America? All we got from British Columbia newspapers were the usual cheap, lame and stuipid interviews of whinging motorists who were inconvenienced for a few hours.

    The circumstances of the crash would appear to be interesting enough to be newsworthy. The truck driver was drunk, he was speeding and driving recklessly at the time of the crash, the police let him leave the scene for no apparent reason and then when they decided to question him some time later he assaulted a police officer. It might also be relevant that the trucking company is not a local Vancouver Island company (as was reported) but an Alberta company. To make matters even more preposterous the trucking company was allowed to conduct its own environmental assessment of the spill.

    Nor was there any mention of the reason so many fuel trucks are crossing the Malahat to deliver fuel to Victoria. The number of fuel trucks has doubled in the last 10 years – due to increased car traffic in the Victoria area, due to rampant urban sprawl.

    Randobarf

    August 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm

  5. HERE WE GO AGAIN! The Economist ranking of cities uses the survey made by the Mercer Report (and rank cities differently than Mercer).
    The Mercer Report makes several points:
    “Mercer conducts the ranking to help governments and multinational companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments…The information and data obtained through the Quality of Living Reports (the “Reports”) are for information purposes only and are intended for use by multinational organizations and government agencies that transfer employees from one country to another.

    They are not designed or intended to use as the basis for foreign investment or tourism…” (which I could bold that..

    The high ranking of Vancouver (it has NEVER been #1 in the world…only in North America) simply means that the expatriate workers transferred temporarily to Vancouver will get a SMALLER “hardship allowance”..as Mercer calls it so quaintly…than if the same employee was transferred to Paris, Berlin, Tokyo….
    In other words these surveys aren’t for people like us that live in a city permanently, pay local taxes, vote etc. ..

    Years ago my brother and I were “expatriate workers” for 2 different French companies.
    I went to Germany., were most of the locals in the small town mountain where I worked spoke truly fluent French and English…
    My brother was sent in remote areas of Cameroon, Nigeria etc. and lived with his family in construction trailers.
    His hardship allowance (on top of his salary and benefits) was much higher than mine but guess who had the best life..

    The 2011 Mercer ranking isn’t out yet but last year Vancouver was #4..while Calgary was #1 in the “Eco ranking”

    The Monocle Magazine, created by a Canadian, and geared to young people that are more likely to work on their own than for a multinational, ranks in its 2011 survey Helsinki #1 and Vancouver #20, mainly on the strength of its transit service (the Monocle surveyor was from Toronto….).

    Red frog

    September 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm

  6. in my previous post:
    “I went to Germany., were most of the locals in the small town mountain where I worked spoke truly fluent French and English…”
    OOPS!
    We did speak French and English at work (even though we were all from France) on the mountain where our workplace was located. I meant to say, of course, that the locals inhabitants (all Germans) in the small mountain town were we lived and shopped spoke fluent French and English….even though most of them had never been to France or the UK, USA etc.

    Red frog

    September 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm


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