Archived – Proposed New Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) Naming Convention and Guidelines for CMA Name Change Requests

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December 12, 2008 (Previous notice)

A census metropolitan area (CMA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a large urban area. To be included in the CMA municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from census place of work data.

The current convention for the naming of a CMA is based on the name of the principal urban area or largest city at the time the CMA was first formed. This standard has been used since the 1971 Census. Through the years, the CMA names have remained relatively stable. The most important changes resulted from name changes to the census subdivisions (resulting from municipal dissolutions, incorporations and name changes).

In recent years, Statistics Canada has received a number of requests to change the CMA naming convention to include additional component municipality names in the name of the CMA. In response to these requests, Statistics Canada is considering a new naming convention.

The existing CMA names will be maintained for the next Census unless a formal request for a name change is received according to the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Census Metropolitan Area name change requests

  1. CMA names can consist of up to three legislated municipal names of eligible Census subdivisions (CSDs) that are components of the CMA. However, the number of name elements in any new CMA name request is limited to five. If any of the eligible CSD names are already hyphenated or compound, the number of CSD names will be limited to two or one if the number of name elements exceeds five.
  2. The eligible municipal names include the historic central municipality name and the two component CSDs with the largest population, and having a population of at least 10,000, according to the last census.
  3. The ordering of the municipal names within the CMA name is determined by the historic (central) municipality and the population size of the eligible CSDs. The first component of the CMA name is always the historic (central) CSD even if its census population count is less than the other eligible component CSDs. This ensures that CMA names retain a measure of stability for better longitudinal recognition. The second and third place name order is determined by population size. The component CSD with the higher census population count at the time of the name change assumes the second position and the next largest component CSD the third position.
  4. In order for Statistics Canada to implement a requested CMA name change there must be explicit consensus among all eligible component municipalities on a proposed new name and a formal request, in accordance with these Guidelines, must be sent to the Director of the Geography Division at Statistics Canada by June 1st of the year prior to the Census.
  5. Statistics Canada will change CMA names whenever the legislated name of a municipality changes. Any other request for a name change will only be considered within the context of these guidelines.

For definitions and an overview of the current CMA and CA methodology applied for the 2006 Census, see 2006 Census Dictionary:

Archived Census metropolitan area (CMA) and census agglomeration (CA) Archived

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