Best Neighbourhoods Methodology
Now in its seventh year, Avenue’s Best Neighbourhood survey has gone through many changes since the beginning in an attempt to develop more and more accurate results. We eliminated questions that tended to turn the survey into a popularity contest. We simplified the survey by eliminating questions about subjects such as proximity to churches and other places of worship because they were statistically irrelevant. We rewrote our questions for clarity so that respondents understood that this survey is about where they want to live, rather than visit, in Calgary, and that “walkability” means walking from home to the grocery store, not recreational walking.
Still, the Best Neighbourhood survey asks a lot of questions about a very complex subject. And for that reason, the survey will always find ways to improve, year after year.
How it all works
First, we write or rewrite a bunch of questions, refining the current survey from the one we produced last year based in large part on the advice we receive from Leger, the marketing and research company that has been our partner in this project for many years.
We post the survey online in early January and promote the survey in print, online and elsewhere, encouraging respondents to fill out the survey right up to its last day at the end of February.
We collect data on each of Calgary’s neighbourhoods in every subject category listed in the survey. Some data change from year to year: population, crime statistics, average house prices. Other data remain the same, like proximity to a river or to a major roadway. Other data remain very nearly the same, but occasionally have to be updated though not every year: proximity to schools or to public transportation or to restaurants and coffee shops.
We send all of this data to Leger, and Leger compares the data about the neighbourhoods to the information provided by approximately 1,400 survey respondents about what they want in the neighbourhood they live in. Some of the categories are more popular with survey respondents than others and are therefore weighed more heavily against the remaining categories in the overall ranking. Leger crunches the numbers and develops a ranked list of the 178 neighbourhoods included in the survey and sends the final results to Avenue.
Of course, there is always room for improvement. But we hope our results reflect the preferences expressed by our survey respondents at least approximately and form the basis for discussion about what sort of city we all want to live in.
More information on the individual neighbourhood rankings
Our Best Neighbourhoods survey took place from late 2015 to early 2016. In partnership with Leger, we asked Calgarians which characteristics they most value in a neighbourhood. We supplied data on each of 178 established residential communities for each of those characteristics to Leger, which were used to create rankings in individual categories. To calculate best overall neighbourhood, rankings in categories most valued by survey respondents were given more weight.
Neighbourhoods: Neighbourhood names and boundaries follow those defined by the City of Calgary.
Demographics: Population and percentage of single family dwellings was taken from the City of Calgary Community Profiles, which contain information from the 2015 Calgary Civic Census.
Property value: Data gathered from the City of Calgary Property Assessment and Market Report 2015 and City of Calgary Property Assessment and Market Report 2016.
Walk Score: Rankings determined by Walk Score, a private company that measures walkability by calculating the distance to amenities.
Parks and pathways: City of Calgary Parks and Recreation maps were used to identify and count major parks and pathways.
Crime: Calgary Police Service statistical reports from January 2015 to November 2015. Crimes were divided into personal crimes and property crimes, with personal crimes given more weight.
Businesses: Data for restaurants, retail bars and entertainment in neighbourhoods was determined using the City of Calgary’s business license catalogue.
Community engagement: Data based on voter turnout in the 2013 municipal election, weighted per capita.