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Urban Planning + Architecture

Please Advise! Vancouver Is a Hellscape, and Delta Is Bliss?

Doc Steve’s definitely not upset about Maclean’s latest city rankings. He finds it really funny, actually.

Steve Burgess 23 Apr 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Maclean’s magazine has published a ranking of Canadian cities for livability. Of the 415 communities listed, Vancouver came in at #174. Delta was #48, Coquitlam #54, North Vancouver #58, Port Moody #64, New Westminster #82, Burnaby #106, Port Coquitlam #121, Pitt Meadows #123, Langley #129, Maple Ridge #135, White Rock #140, West Vancouver #168, Richmond #178, Surrey #182, the District of North Vancouver #245, and Greater Vancouver as a whole, #342.

Halifax was #1, Edmonton was #5, Winnipeg #6 and Toronto #11.

What do you think?



Dear V,

This week, Premier Horgan announced that despite COVID-related travel restrictions, there will be no roadblocks or inspection posts set up between Greater Vancouver communities. Clearly this plan needs a rethink. Barriers must be erected, not to stop the spread of COVID, but to stem the tide of refugees flowing from #174 Vancouver, #178 Richmond, and #182 Surrey to relatively blissful #48 Delta or #58 North Vancouver.

Delta! Vancouver’s huddled masses are coming for your way of life. North Vancouver, you will be overwhelmed by Surreyites and your distinctive culture lost. Coquitlam must find its own Tucker Carlson to sound the alarm or watch its society eroded by a swarm of low-ranking interlopers from the deepest, most fetid pits of the West End.

The Maclean’s rankings will come as bitter medicine for some B.C. communities. Oak Bay, once regarded as a leafy enclave of oblivious privilege, is now revealed as a cesspit worthy of no better than place #233. Still, Oak Bay inmates can count their blessings that they are not trapped on #300 Salt Spring Island, desperately scratching “S.O.S.” on the sand and scanning the skies for rescue planes. Such poor souls can but dream of life in happy Maclean’s towns like #70 Oakville or #71 Hamilton.

It’s true that Vancouver is a living hell. Yet Dr. Steve has lived in worse places (e.g. #310 Estevan, Saskatchewan, where nightlife meant extended Thursday shopping hours at Safeway). On the other hand, Dr. Steve grew up in the Elysian fields of #50 Brandon, Manitoba, and even abided for a time in the veritable heaven of #5 Edmonton (top feature according to Maclean’s: internet). He also made early pilgrimages to that Prairie Utopia, #6 Winnipeg (top Maclean’s feature: internet.)

Internet seems to be a big deal at Maclean’s. Do we have that yet? The magazine’s methodology involved analyzing various categories and according to each a certain number of points. The top three features of each community were then listed alongside its ranking. The top feature of most towns appears to be internet access. With Edmonton at #5, Winnipeg at #6 and Vancouver at #174, one might assume that NHL playoff probability was also taken into account. Just wait till Elias Pettersson gets back into the Canucks’ lineup. Our quality of life will soar.

Another puzzling aspect of the rankings is that Greater Vancouver as a whole fares far worse than any of its constituent parts. While Vancouver sits at #174 and Surrey at #182, Greater Vancouver comes in at #342. God only knows what sort of wretched evaluation the Lower Mainland might get.

Whatever you call it, this is a ridiculously expensive region. No doubt that factor affected the rankings. Yet a local resident might legitimately wonder how, if affordability is key, Toronto managed to rise to #11? Could it be because their pro hockey team does not have to play games at 4 p.m. PST to accommodate national broadcasters? Or are points awarded for well-dressed primates?

The Maclean’s “top features” chart offers a clue. Alone among all the ranked towns and cities, Toronto’s top three features are all related to health issues. Toronto, it seems, brushes the top 10 for access to health services. Set up house in Hogtown, and there is probably a doctor’s office beside your garden shed and an MRI beside the slurpy machine at the corner store.

But Toronto vaulting 163 places above Vancouver largely on health questions does raise eyebrows. Toronto falls under the jurisdiction of Premier Doug Ford. Wouldn’t a Maclean’s ranking of airlines deduct points if the pilots got their licenses from Dollarama?

Well, never mind. This is not a time for bitterness. This is a time to qualify for federal disaster funds. Now that Maclean’s has clarified our plight, we cry out to Ottawa (#36) for assistance. To think that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney whines about his problems with two towns in the top 10 (Edmonton and sublime #9 Brooks), as well as Calgary at a healthy #31. Bah! Try surviving in #168 West Vancouver. Some days you can’t find an avocado for less than two bucks. The Regina (#17) elite would never understand.  [Tyee]

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