2016 Waterloo Region CMA Population Density (by Census Tract)

One of the variables from the StatCan’s 2016 Population and Dwelling Counts that always gets a lot of attention is population density. This map shows the density of the Waterloo Region Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) by Census Tract (CT). Note that the Waterloo Region CMA doesn’t include all of Waterloo Region; a CMA consists only urban and suburban areas.  Rural areas are not included.

Of no surprise, of course, is that the densest areas in Waterloo Region are the urban cores of Waterloo and Kitchener, as well as Cambridge.  A line of blue runs east-west along Victoria St, with DTK just to its south; one can see how higher density communities are found in the old core neigbourhoods (e.g., East Ward) as well as in the resurgent downtown itself.

A few notes here:

  • Some Census Tracts do not have data.  I’ve marked these in grey.  If you look at the table from StatCan and then try to plot them yourself, you will see these three gaps in the Waterloo Region CMA.  I haven’t found an official document yet, but I’m presuming that these three areas are suppressed for data quality and/or privacy concerns.  (i.e., low populations).  This is a common measure by StatCan.  StatCan will not release data that might jeopardize a respondent’s privacy and anonymity, and nor will it release poor data.
  • The Census Tract encompassing the University of Waterloo campus isn’t as dense as some expect it to be.  Recall that UW has a lot of land. And the census is enumerated in May. Even for a co-op-heavy school such as UW, this will have an effect on numbers.

Finally, note that I’m using census tracts here.  The CT is the most common geography to use when projecting numbers onto “neighbourhoods”.  CT’s have historic value since they’ve been employed for decades.  I’m interested to project this map in the future, however, with StatCan’s new level of geography, the aggregated dissemination area.  These are slightly larger than the CT, but I think they’ll give a better sense of community understanding than the CT can for medium-sized centres like Kitchener, which don’t have the density of the largest cities in Canada.


(view the map in full-screen here.)

On developing the map itself: