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Like a living organism our Sustainable Cities methodology continues to evolve. To create a measurable and comparable set of indicators from year to year the methodology retains the same five categories as it has since The Natural Step helped create it: ecological integrity, economic security, governance and empowerment, infrastructure and built environment, and social well-being. However, the total number of indicators analyzed for all categories has been reduced from 63 to 28 avoiding overlap and creating a manageable amount of data. The new indicators added include urban biodiversity monitoring, source water strategy, renewable energy initiatives, and health. Therefore comparing this year’s numbers to last year’s is not appropriate. Rather, trends are the best way to assess a city’s progress.

The most populous centres in each province and territory and the ten most populous cities in the country are selected for inclusion. Cities are then grouped into three groups based on population: Big Cities have over 700,000; Medium Cities have over 250,000; and Small Cities have between 10,000 and 250,000. Victoria was added due to their involvement with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Cities 2011 conference. Whistler was also analyzed because of their promising sustainability initiatives, but was not included in the final ranking as it did not meet the population benchmark of 10,000 permanent residents. Iqaluit and St. John’s were invited to participate in the ranking, but were unable to take part.

Data collection for each indicator makes use of a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada and Environment Canada, and a detailed survey designed by Corporate Knights were submitted by each city. All participating cities completed the survey, and cities were not penalized if indicator data was not available. Data for each indicator is rationally and logically normalized to a 0 – 10 value (10 high, 0 low).

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