Sister City Policy and Criteria

The Economic Alliance program has provided Markham and its business community with a more diverse presence in the global marketplace, and a growing network of contacts. In particular, the benefits of the program include:

  • A source of contacts for businesses wishing to expand export opportunities
  • An economical promotional vehicle for Markham and Markham businesses in international markets
  • A guarantee of positive/high quality business and government contacts/protocol in partnership communities
  • An opportunity to learn and collect data on competitive global business and government issues of importance to Markham

Based on the experience learned from the economic alliance program, the City of Markham chose to elevate select relationships to a higher level of "twinning" or "sister cities". Whereas the City's Economic Alliance program was founded on the basis of trade and investment attraction potential, it has been recognized that there are also advantages for the City in forging ties to municipalities based on cultural, social, and political interests and affinities. In 1998, Markham Council endorsed a formal "twinning policy" and adopted a set of criteria for forging these new relationships between municipalities.

Twinning/Sister Cities Criteria

Overall factors to take into consideration:

  1. Genuine interest on both sides
  2. Long-term commitment for the relationship
  3. Adequate financial support for exchanges and maintenance of the sister cities relationship
  4. Realistic assessment of what makes a successful sister cities relationship
  5. Look for best results which will capitalize on existing strengths
  6. A desire to learn from and share with a sister city can, in many cases, balance the lack of any similar characteristics with a potential sister city.

Specific categories of factors to take into consideration:


  1. Population
  2. Similar geographic location (e.g., port city, airport, mountains, etc.)
  3. Comparison of key industries
  4. Ethnic and cultural composition
  5. Existing linkages (e.g., universities, businesses, etc.)
  6. Role for City's community organizations in the relationship

Cultural/Civic/Educational (the presence of the following):

  1. Museums, theatres, symphony/orchestra, libraries
  2. Variety of civic organizations
  3. Newspapers, television stations, sports teams, hospitals
  4. Schools, colleges, universities


  1. Similar economic conditions
  2. Level of government bureaucracy
  3. Language/cultural patterns not creating barriers
  4. Market analysis of industries
  5. Investment climate and present investment levels
  6. Branches of banks, factories, airlines present
  7. Number of foreign residents locally


  1. Trade and investment climate
  2. If a port city; port connections
  3. Trade in services (e.g., high-tech, education, business services, etc.)
  4. Trade exchange potential, air links
  5. Active Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce
  6. Diplomatic presence, Honorary Consuls
  7. Number/flow of tourists
  8. Presence of foreign businesses locally
  9. Local businesses engaged in international activity


  1. Geographic location
  2. History of diplomatic relations
  3. Present degree of cooperation in political, economic, commercial, and cultural fields

At this time, the City of Markham maintains one twinning agreement: that being with the City of Nordlingen, Germany (birthplace of Markham's founder, William Berczy).

Date Signed: October 2001
Twinning/Sister City: City of  Nordlingen, Germany

Complementary Content