In 1982, the first Northern Intercity Conference took place in Sapporo Japan, with representatives from nine winter cities in six countries gathering to talk about how to make winter cities more liveable.  The third such conference was held in Edmonton, Canada in 1988. These conferences continued to be held every two years, in conjunction with the Winter Expo, for industry and business, and the Winter Cities Forum, for researchers and academics. Since 2002, municipal administrators have met annually, while the mayors continued to meet every two years. In 2004, the name of the association was changed to the World Winter Cities Association for Mayors (WWCAM).  The most recent WWCAM conference was held in Hwacheon, Korea in January 2014.


In 1978, the Livable Winter City Conference was held at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. This conference was the first of its kind in North America. Following the conference Canadian researchers, architects, engineers and municipal leaders, among others, recognised that winter technologies and expertise existed across the country, but mostly in isolation. In 1982, the Livable Winter Cities Association (LWCA) was created to provide a place for information sharing. The LWCA held conferences from 1982 – 2005, and published a quarterly magazine called “Winter Cities”.


In 2008 the Winter Cities Institute was created to carry on the work of the Winter Cities Association.

Northern communities or “winter cities” have great opportunities to mitigate negative effects of the winter season while reinforcing the many positive aspects to create a vibrant, sustainable and livable environment for a prosperous future. The Winter Cities Institute's mission is to provide information, resources and networking opportunities for those who desire to make northern communities more livable and sustainable. The goal of the Winter Cities Institute is to be the best source for information, research, reports, plans and news from around the northern world, focusing on how to make the best of the winter season.  

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In January 2015, Edmonton, Canada was host to a unique international Winter Cities Conference. Its holistic approach brought together people from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds to discuss all aspects of what makes a successful winter city, to share best practices; to experience what’s working at the Conference’s urban field trips; and to forge new approaches for improving the quality of life in winter cities.