Ridiculously high housing prices and lack of affordability are two subjects often discussed when describing our beautiful city.
So it came as a surprise to me this week to discover Vancouver had been bumped from the top spot of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual most livable city list, not because of this city’s out-of-control real estate market, but instead due to construction on a highway connecting Victoria to Nanaimo.
According to the Economist, Vancouver fell to third because of “a small adjustment in Vancouver’s score for transport infrastructure, reflecting recent intermittent closures of Vancouver Island’s Malahat Highway…” What? I wasn’t alone in my confusion. Readers commenting on a Globe and Mail article on the subject also questioned the reasoning behind the shift from first to third behind Melbourne, Australia in the top spot and Vienna, Austria in second.
Some readers who submitted comments on Vancouver’s livability decided just being included in the top 10 was good enough, eh. A reader named TangoTiago wrote, “3 out of the top 5? Canada should be proud! Pretty awesome country, I think we forget how lucky we truly are.” Which I have to agree. But while TangoTiago sang Vancouver’s praises, it was a pretty lonely position to take. Of the 140 comments I read Tuesday morning, roughly 95 per cent questioned the Economist Intelligence’s intelligence as well as its knowledge of geography, while others questioned how Vancouver made it to the top 10 in the first place.
H Mushman offered this advice, “Maybe Vancouver should look to legalize brothels like Melbourne in order to gain that top spot back,” while VancouverDave used humour to suggest, “Let’s cut them some slack. This list is put out by The Economist, not The Geographer.”
Meanwhile, the Black Queen decided a lesson in geography was in order, “The Malahat is a section of the Trans-Canada highway on Vancouver Island north of Victoria, the capital. At no time does it connect physically to Vancouver, at least without considering a ferry and subsidiary highway link... Not that I am arguing with the findings of the most livable city: Vancouver, though very livable, is also immensely expensive.”
Our fair city’s affordability, or lack thereof, came under fire from many readers. Ben_M wrote, “Yep. Solid work here boys at the Economist. Last time I checked, the Malahat (a.k.a. suicide alley) was on Vancouver Island and nowhere near Vancouver. Also, did the Economist mention that although Vancouver is ‘livable,’ it is also ‘unaffordable?’” While Catctusman wrote, “It’s extremely livable if you have $1.5 million to buy a house.”
Speaking of housing prices, I heard from a lot of readers following the column I wrote about the small 1940s bungalow (read tear- down) my partner and I rent is for sale for $2 million. In that column I bemoaned living life in a hot real estate market with a For Sale sign on the front lawn. I have an update.
Two weeks ago, I was home during the day and looked out our living room window to see a small tour bus stop in front of our home. The three windows of the bus were open and in each was what I assumed was a tourist taking pictures of the house. I was on the phone with our landlady at the time and when I told her about the bus, she replied the house has been added as a stop to at least two tour groups catering to tourists from Mainland China. My partner and I have seen tour buses stop in front of our home on three occasions. Now we have a plan. We’re going to start charging $25 for house tours, but not until we get a totem pole and igloo properly installed on the front lawn.