The 2011 National Household Survey (formerly the long-form census) can help shed some light on this question. Typically the lowest geographic level for which NHS data is available is the Census Tract. Census Tracts are roughly a similar size to an Edmonton neighbourhood, but their borders don’t line up. This makes it difficult to communicate low-level data in a form that’s easy to understand. Fortunately a colleague from Sustainable Development at the City of Edmonton was kind enough to share custom NHS profiles for Edmonton neighbourhoods.
So, which areas of the city are most popular among recent migrants? The 5 neighbourhoods with the largest populations of individuals who moved to Edmonton within the past year, as of 2011, are:
- Oliver – 1,205
- Downtown – 1,075
- Garneau – 990
- Strathcona – 860
- Queen Mary Park – 675
And in map form:
Clearly new arrivals to Edmonton are clustered in central neighbourhoods near Downtown and the University of Alberta. Exactly why isn’t completely clear, but some possible explanations are:
- The numbers of recent immigrants just reflect the high population densities of these neighbourhoods. This is partly true. If you rank neighbourhoods by recent migrants’ population share, the clustering around the University/Downtown area remains, but is less pronounced.
- These are desirable and relatively vibrant neighbourhoods and are chosen by recent arrivals for that reason.
- Individuals with little prior knowledge of Edmonton choose these neighbourhoods essentially by default – because of proximity to work, school, or available rental accommodation.
Whatever the reasons, the implication is pretty obvious. If we want the thousands of new Edmontonians that arrive each year to stick around long term, we need to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward when it comes to central neighbourhoods.