The writer, who pens a business travel column under the name Gulliver, makes the argument that the more cities strive to be nicer places to live, the less interesting they become.
- Vancouver tops quality of living ranking for North America
- Top 10 most livable cities include Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto
For instance, he writes that New York has lost its edge since yuppies pushed the street prostitutes out of the Meat Packing District.
Similarly, London's Tube is now safe and one need not look over one's shoulder while walking the city's dark streets at night, he concludes.
All these improvements make for nice places to live and work, he says.
"But, here's the thing," he asks, "where's the fun in nice?"
Gulliver says livability indexes, which he used to compile for corporations, don't include the fun factor inherent in living in a dangerous, or at least slightly unsavoury metropolis.
"The trouble was," he writes,"measuring things such as crime levels, transport efficiency and housing stock, meant that the most anodyne cities inevitably rose to the top.
"Vienna, Vancouver and Geneva always seemed to do well. Pleasant cities, yes, but mind-numbingly boring.
"What right-minded person would rank Vienna a better city than Rio, or Vancouver preferable to Paris?"
There is no evidence that the writer has visited Vancouver for the article, or how exciting he might consider dropping into a double-black diamond run at Whistler, meeting a bear while taking out the garbage, or jogging with a cougar in the Capilano watershed. But clearly, many of the exciting aspects of life valued by residents of the West Coast city are lost on him.
But The Economist does have a track record of missing the mark when it comes to Vancouver.
In 2011, the magazine's intelligence unit downgraded Vancouver's ranking on its own livability index because of traffic congestion.
The demotion was blamed on a crash that closed a nearby highway for 22 hours. The problem was the highway was the Malahat on Vancouver Island — about 60 kilometres and a 95-minute ferry ride away.