Canada had a typically strong showing in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of the “livability” of 140 world cities, but the mood in Vancouver was likely less than jubilant as residents perused the 2011 list.

Vancouver has held the treasured title of world’s most livable city for almost a decade, however, this time around the coveted top spot went to Melbourne while Vienna grabbed the number two rank. Vancouver placed third followed by compatriots, Toronto and Calgary, who rounded out the top five.

The rankings, released at the end of August, are based on metrics that weigh healthcare, culture and environment, infrastructure, education, and stability. Vienna, Helsinki and Auckland were the only cities not located in Canada or Australia to make the top ten.

The reason behind Vancouver’s slide? An increase in traffic congestion! “Ongoing upgrades to Highway 1 and the resulting delays for commercial traffic and commuters were a factor in the lower ranking,” said Economist analyst Jon Copestake.

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Copestake also noted that the ranking at the top are very tight and that there were only 0.2 percentage points separating Melbourne and Vancouver. He also said that the top three cities scored equally for stability, health care and education while Vancouver topped the other two in the culture and environment category.

This explanation probably won’t satisfy proud Vancouverites who are upset that congestion due to a crash on the Malahat Highway — located about 3 and a half hours away from the city proper — was one of the reasons behind the minuscule point drop that led to the ranking decline.

In fact, Malahat became a trending topic on Twitter in Vancouver after the report was released as residents aired their grievances against The Economist. However, Copestake responded to the criticism, commenting that the Malahat was only used as an example of the increasing traffic congestion in Vancouver and that the city’s ranking would have slipped even if the Malahat hadn’t been cited in the report.

Drama! All we can say is we hope that there’s a strong showing for all Canadian cities included in the ranking next year. How diplomatic of us.

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