To help improve community planning and service delivery, the City has defined 43 distinct "neighbourhoods."
Most of these neighbourhoods include five to seven neighbouring blocks with populations of 400 to 700 per block, or what Statistics Canada calls "census dissemination areas." These blocks are grouped together as a neighbourhood based on criteria including shared social, physical and political attributes, as well as location.
The names of the neighbourhoods are those commonly used for these areas.
The profiles reflect 2011 Census dissemination area information and include a neighbourhood map, population and dwelling totals. The City expects to add more detailed demographic and socio-economic data based on a review of the National Household Survey later in 2014.
Why do we need Neighbourhood Profiles?
Community development in its simplest form is applying a community's strengths and assets to address its needs. Far too often there is an emphasis put on needs without carefully examining our community's strengths. Underlying the need to shift the focus onto community strengths is the idea that developing community resources and linkages can empower the community toward self-help and entrepreneurism.
Neighbourhoods are the social and physical building blocks of a city. Neighbourhood vitality is strongly linked to the overall health of a community. The use and viability of neighborhood based planning has long been an essential part of any comprehensive planning and community building process.
By developing neighbourhood profiles, we are able to answer the basic questions of "what" and "where", and work with the community, to move forward to the question of "why". If trying to find solutions to youth crime for example, one could look to neighbourhoods where the crime rate is significantly higher or lower and compare it to the location of youth programs. Meaningful discussion and solutions can occur when we have an answer to "why."
Internally, neighbourhood profiles assist all City departments with their long and short range planning processes and service delivery considerations. They provide base line data for many strategic initiatives and operational matters, and help in achieving our economic and social development outcomes. Neighbourhood-based information will be crucial to the City's ongoing land use and development program as it undertakes major policy studies, the Official Plan review, zoning consolidation and review and other development related planning initiatives.
How is the term "neighbourhood" defined?
It is very clear that not all people define neighbourhoods the same way. This is a considerable challenge in designing a neighbourhood-based data system. There are basically three key factors that influence what we consider to be a neighbourhood:
- Social Relationships - defined by the residents themselves and based on their social interactions.
- Physical Features - defined by the natural and built environment of an area.
- Political Structures - defined by the existence of a neighbourhood organization, other political organization or governance structure.
Staff has had regard for these factors and the limitations of available data sets when considering and ultimately recommending a methodology for establishing neighbourhood boundaries.
Why do the boundaries not match the electoral districts?
The most widely available, respected and useable comprehensive source of data is produced by Statistics Canada. Stats Can data and data collection methods therefore have been used as the statistical base for our proposed system of neighbourhoods. For the purpose of having accurate statistical data, we have combined Census dissemination areas (D.A.'s) to form neighbourhoods. A dissemination area is the smallest census unit and is composed of one or more neighbouring blocks, with a population of 400 to 700 persons. We have grouped 5-7 D.A.'s in most neighbourhoods. In grouping these dissemination areas into neighbourhoods, staff has kept in mind commonly used neighbourhood boundaries, electoral district boundaries, natural physical boundaries, federal government boundaries and structural boundaries (roads). Unfortunately, the boundaries do not align easily with the electoral districts in all instances.
What kind of information is in the neighbourhood profiles?
Data is collected and placed in the neighbourhood profiles in layers. As each layer of information is added to a neighbourhood profile, the "story" and character of that neighbourhood begins to emerge. The first layer of data is the 2001 Census data. This includes information such as gender, age, marital status, education, labour force participation, and income. As well, other data, such as locations of churches, schools, child care centres and recreation facilities is shown on the neighbourhood maps. Over time, and in partnership with the community, it is hoped that more data will be added, such as locations of community agencies and services.
How were the neighbourhood names selected?
Choosing a name or a neighbourhood area is certainly a challenge, as opinions can vary greatly. The names were chosen based for the most part on the commonly used name for that area of the City. Staff appreciates that any time a line is drawn or a name is chosen, there will be those who will take exception or question the basis for the decision. This is not a science, but an art based on finely nuanced judgement and pragmatic consideration for our planning needs and availability of data.
Why are there so many neighbourhoods? Shouldn't some be combined to have fewer areas?
Staff examined grouping these 42 neighbourhoods into larger planning areas. However, it is important to maintain the distinctiveness of each neighbourhood for some planning uses. Certainly, neighbourhoods can be grouped together when appropriate. In addition, data at the "DA" level will is available when required.
What is the value to the City in having these profiles?
Since amalgamation, there have been a significant number of planning activities carried out across the Corporation. Many of these studies use different sets of boundaries for their research. With the establishment of neighbourhood boundaries, all future planning activities across the Corporation can be premised on these boundaries as base data. In addition, this data will help make more strategic use of scarce resources. It is also critical data for helping to fulfill our mandatory emergency management responsibilities.
What is the value to the community?
These profiles will be of use to community organizations for their planning purposes, students for their research, and the general public looking for information about a particular neighbourhood.
On a larger scale, and pending resource availability, it is conceivable that in the future, these profiles could serve as a basis for an interactive data base with three levels of security. The public level would be provided with access to basic neighbourhood profiles. Consortiums of community agencies and organizations could have more restricted access to client distribution profiles of each other's clients/users based on postal codes. This will help identify service gaps in the delivery system, especially when compared to the demographic data. Individual organizations will be able to input whatever detailed data they would like to have to use in their planning. This third level would be restricted to those identified within an organization. In Halton, Peel, and York Regions, examples of these types of consortiums are under way in areas such as literacy and abuse.
The profiles being considered in this report would form baseline data for a more interactive process. Moving to a consortium model would require the commitment of financial and information resources from our community and funding partners. Based on current workload and diminishing resources within the municipality, it is not anticipated that the City of Kingston will be in a position to move to this type of system within the next few years unless a viable partnership with the community can be established.
Do other municipalities have neighbourhood profiles?
Examples of profiles from approximately twelve other Canadian municipalities have been researched. They differ in terms of format but generally the type of information included is similar. The number of neighbourhoods per capita is also similar.