Why You Should Love Alberta Avenue

Our survey is in, and Edmonton’s best neighbourhood might not be what you think.

Illustration by Stephanie Simpson

IN PREVIOUS BEST Neighbourhoods surveys, Avenue asked our readers to tell us what they thought were the best places to live in the city. We did that again in 2020 and, to be honest, the answers were not all that different from previous years. The top 10 is similar to what we’ve seen in previous surveys, with the exception of Greenfield, the south-side neighbourhood which got a surge of votes in 2020.

EDMONTON’S TOP 10 (UNWEIGHTED)

  1. GLENORA
  2. WESTMOUNT
  3. RITCHIE
  4. HIGHLANDS
  5. OLIVER
  6. STRATHCONA
  7. GARNEAU
  8. GREENFIELD
  9. CRESTWOOD
  10. LAURIER HEIGHTS

What this tells us is that, over the better part of the last decade, your perception of the best neighbourhoods to live in hasn’t changed. Many of us dream of the giant lots of Glenora, or the historic homes of Westmount. Ritchie is the cool south-of-the-river place to be, with cafes, breweries and fabulous places to eat. Highlands is the king of the east, while an Oliver condo sounds awfully nice to a lot of us.

But, in 2020, we kicked the survey off by asking our readers to rank what they thought were the most important things that, well, make for a great neighbourhood. We gave them a choice of 16 things that could make a neighbourhood great. And, the weighted choices bear no resemblance to the list above…

TOP 10 NEIGHBOURHOODS, (WEIGHTED)

1.  ALBERTA AVENUE
2. QUEEN ALEXANDRA
3. DOWNTOWN
4. MCCAULEY
5. GARNEAU
6. STRATHCONA
7. BONNIE DOON
8. OLIVER
9. MEADOWLARK PARK
10. PARKDALE

TAKE A WALK

It’s not hard to find a good place to live in Edmonton. But what is the best place to live and what makes it the best? A lot of the answers to those questions are personal. Many of us want to live close to family or friends, in the neighbourhood we grew up in or close to work. Or we love the look of a particular home on a particular street. Some of the answers have to do with intangible and subjective feelings about a place — how it feels to be there or to give it as your address rather than anything quantifiable.

But, putting all that aside for a moment, this is our data-driven approach to ranking Edmonton’s residential neighbourhoods. What makes a neighbourhood the perfect place for you to live is a matter of personal taste — but what makes a neighbourhood a great place to live for most Edmontonians — what characteristics and amenities are the most desirable to most of us? That’s the question we tried to answer with our Best Neighbourhoods survey and rankings.

In our online Best Neighbourhood survey, respondents told us a great neighbourhood is one with a high Walk Score,* lots of park spaces, with strong community engagement and good access to supermarkets. We collected data from the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Police Service for every neighbourhood on each of these points and then, using the weighting of the most important characteristics, crunched the numbers to calculate the results.

*Walk Score measures the walkability of a neighbourhood based on the percentage of daily errands that can be accomplished on foot in the area. Walk Score is a private company based in Seattle, and it provides a complete list of Walk Scores, Transit Scores and Bike Scores for Edmonton neighbourhoods on its website. 

MOST IMPORTANT NEIGHBOURHOOD CHARACTERISTICS (OUT OF 16 CHOICES)

1. High Walk Score, weight 5,794
2. High number of parks, weight 5,748
3. Strong community engagement, weight 5,313
4. Good access to supermarkets, weight 4,965
5. High transit score, weight 3,800
6. High number of restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, weight 3,661
7. Low crime, weight 3,288
8. High number of community schools, weight 2,912

Finishing at the bottom were the “reputation of a neighbourhood” and the “amount of renovations being done by homeowners.”

CALCULATING ENGAGEMENT

Community engagement means a lot of different things to different people and a lot of what it means is subjective. Yet our aim was to create an engagement score based on objective measures available comprehensively for the city’s many neighbourhoods.

One aspect of community engagement that can be measured is neighbours’ opportunities to run into each other. The more neighbours see each other out and about in their community, the more likely it is that they meet and then become involved.

To create our engagement score we collected data on access to libraries, parks, playgrounds, community halls, schools and more.

Our engagement score is definitely a proxy for other measures of community involvement such as friendly neighbours who are actively involved in helping each other. But we think it’s a pretty good proxy.

TOP 3 NEIGHBOURHOODS BY THE NUMBERS

ALBERTA AVENUE

Population (2019 Census): 6,581
Walk Score: 80

Park access points: 30
Engagement score: 266
Transit Score: 66
Bike Score: 70
Crime per capita (2019): 88.13

QUEEN ALEXANDRA

Population (2019 Census): 5,123
Walk Score: 73
Park access points: 22
Engagement score: 263
Transit Score: 54
Bike Score: 92
Crime per capita (2019): 85.69

DOWNTOWN

Population (2019 Census): 12,423
Walk Score: 86
Park access points: 32
Engagement score: 191
Transit Score: 84
Bike Score: 75
Crime per capita (2019): 117.12

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