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Blog

yegdt: Land use in downtown Edmonton - preliminary analysis

Matthew Dance

Edmonton's downtown is a growing and changing entity.  In recent memory Edmonton's core has gone from being mostly dead, to having a few sections of vibrant life with interesting restaurants, bars and a wide range of events.  On an infrastructure level, the core is shifting away from surface lots and empty buildings to new developments including high rise buildings such as the Epcor Tower and the Icons on 104th (thanks in part to the muni being shut down). This gives rise to the question of how downtown land is being used.  So I, of course, made a map.

The area of this map is defined by the City of Edmonton's Downtown Neighbourhood Boundary. The black polygons on this map represent surface parking lots (~15% of the downtown area). The surface lots, in conjunction with roadways (~12% of downtown area), represent about 27% of the surface area of downtown core.  Buildings occupy 25% and parks space 6%. I was astonished to learn that there are over 2800 trees in the downtown, with over 25 species (tree data from data.edmonton.ca). I captured each one. Rather than document each tree in a huge legend, I created a teaser that allows you to mouse over each point to discover the trees in your neighbourhood.

Some things of note about the map - a full 27% of the downtown core is devoted to cars, and this data does not include parking garages or underground parking. There is more square feet of land dedicated to vehicles than to building footprints, and only 6% to park space.  Wow.

There are two main sources of data for this project. One is from an article about parking in Downtown Edmonton published on Spacing Edmonton.  Kyle Witiw, the author, was kind enough to share his hand-drawn parking data with me.  I then downloaded the Edmonton OpenStreetMap data from an OSM metro extracts site, and teased out the various buildings in the core, compared and corrected the OSM parking data with Kyle's data, and mapped it using QGIS + TileMill and MapBox. Kyle pointed out a couple of problems with my data, including:

The surface parking that used to exist on the NW corner of 104 street and 102 ave no longer exists - the Fox One condo development is currently going up on that site.

I have not yet corrected that.

There are some additional issues with these data. The road data is likely an under estimate as I measured the length of the roads bounded by the neighbourhood boundary, and then multiplied each length by the number of lanes (2) and width per lane (3m) to get the total area. I did not account for parking lanes or turning lanes, as such I think that I have under estimated to total surface area of roadways. Also, several park spaces are not in the data sets - for instance the area west of Canterra Centre at Jasper and 109 is poorly documented and does not include the park that contains the walking/biking trail.  Also with Canterra, Save-On-Foods is missing, as are the condos to the westThe addition of these residential and commercial footprints would slightly increase the overall built-up area in the core.

In addition, the blue buildings have been classified as  a 'mixed use'.  The OpenStreetMap data (the basis for the building and park data) does not define the use of the blue buildings.  I plan on updating the OSM data so that I can, in the future, produce a better map (I will also update the OSM data with Kyle's suggestion above).In summary, the data needs work and the best place to make data improvements is in the OSM database.

Please feel free to let me know what you think.