By Rochelle Handelman
In 1980, when my husband and I decided to buy our first house, location was our prime concern since neither of us drove. We wanted to be in a pedestrian-friendly environment near good public transportation and such amenities as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, parks and schools. We chose the Glebe. Why? Here is a brief look at the Glebe’s demographic profile and amenities in comparison with that of the rest of Ottawa.
My main sources of information have been the University of Ottawa’s Ottawa Neighbourhood Survey (ONS) (neighbourhoodstudy.ca/), Statistics Canada’s 2006 and 2011 censuses and the 2011 National Household Survey.
In the 1950s, Glebe went from a middle-class to a predominantly working-class neighbourhood, with the houses subdivided into multiple apartments or rooming houses. In the 1970s it underwent significant gentrification and became one of Ottawa’s elite neighbourhoods. These changes are evident in the census. From 1971 to 1996, the percentage of the population with university degrees rose from 10 to 60 per cent. White-collar employment grew from less than half to some 95 per cent. While in 1971 Glebe residents were 14 per cent poorer than the average citizen of Ottawa, in 1996 they were 18 per cent wealthier.
The Glebe neighbourhood has more recently been characterized by the ONS as follows:
There is an extremely well educated population who are well engaged in the political process, an active community association, good access to recreational opportunities, a high proportion of residents who feel a strong sense of belonging to their community and high employment.
“Income levels are generally high. One concern is the high number of homes in need of major repairs and the relatively high numbers of people who have unaffordable housing. This neighbourhood is committed to active transportation; many residents either walk or cycle to their workplace. Residents have excellent access to healthy food outlets and a very good selection of restaurants; specialty stores and restaurants are within easy walking distance for most residents. Residents are fortunate enough to have the Rideau Canal bordering the neighbourhood, adding to the available parkland and green space. The neighbourhood also has a vibrant cultural life. Reproductive health, self-rated health, and rates of ER visits and hospitalizations are all excellent. School readiness of children is also very good.”
The table describes the Glebe/Dow’s Lake area in statistical terms. This table includes an overall walkability score. Another walkability index I found at https://www.redfin.com/how-walk-score-works produced these results for my postal code. You can try the site using your own postal code. Note that the index is out of 100.
Walk score: 91 (Daily errands do not require a car.)
Transit score: 59 (Many nearby public transportation options.)
Bike score: 78 (Flat as a pancake, good bike lanes.)
The Glebe is currently undergoing changes mainly due to the Lansdowne Park redevelopment. It will be interesting to observe how the Glebe neighbourhood profile evolves, given the influx of new residents and amenities. One of the major challenges facing residents of the Glebe continues to be traffic congestion and a lack of parking.
Thanks to Trish Cillis from Statistics Canada and David Hole from the ONS for their help with this article. Dedicated to the memory of Maryanne Webber, a Glebe resident and a talented and dedicated Statistics Canada employee who, sadly, passed away in January.
Rochelle Handelman is a Glebe resident and before retirement was a population analyst at Statistics Canada.