65% of Ottawa residents have a strong or very strong sense of community belonging
In all of Canada’s six largest cities, a significant majority of residents over 12 years of age report a strong or very strong sense of belonging to their local community. In Ottawa that proportion is 65%, which places it in the middle of the pack. Toronto is highest at 69.9%, and Montreal is lowest at 61.6%.
The proportion is the same for women and men in Ottawa, whereas in four of the five other cities the proportion of women with a strong or very strong sense of belonging is at least 3% lower than for men. For one city, Edmonton, the reverse is true.
Research shows a high correlation between sense of community-belonging and physical and mental health.
Regions based on Health Units
- Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 105-0501
The proportion of visible minorities in Ottawa is relatively low compared to other large cities
In Ottawa, visible minorities comprised 19% of the population in 2011. This is the smallest proportion among Canada’s six largest metropolitan areas. In Toronto and Vancouver, visible minorities were approaching 50% of the population in the 2011 census; and according to Statistics Canada demographic projections, they will be at 63%, and 59% respectively by 2031.
Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) accounted for 4.3% of the total Canadian population in 2011. Although Ontario was the province with the largest number of indigenous people, they comprised only 2.5% of Ottawa’s population in that year. Of Canada’s six largest cities Edmonton had the highest proportion of indigenous peoples, at 5.4%. In both Montréal and Toronto, the number was less than 1%.
These numbers likely underestimate the actual proportions of indigenous peoples. For example, while the 2006 census reported 20,590 indigenous people living in the National Capital Region, service providers estimated that the population was 35,000.
Over a 5-year period ending in 2011, a relatively small proportion of Ottawa residents had moved here from outside Canada
High rates of residential mobility can pose a challenge to community cohesion and feelings of belonging. Among Canada’s six largest cities, the proportion of residents who had moved in the five years between 2006 and 2011 was quite high, ranging from 40% to 47%. For Ottawa the proportion was 42%. In all six cities, moves within the same City accounted for at least half of the moves. In Ottawa, 64% of those who moved remained with the City. Among the six cities, this was the highest proportion of within-city change of residence.
Depending on a variety of factors, including systems of support, challenges associated with high mobility rates can be further influenced by the proportion of those who have moved from outside the country. In Ottawa, 4.5% of residents had come from outside the country between 2006 and 2011. This was the lowest proportion among Canada’s six largest cities. Moreover, the proportion of those new residents whose mother tongue was not an official language was also lowest for Ottawa, at 62%. Conversely, Vancouver had both the highest percentage of people moving in from outside the country (7.9%), and the highest proportion of those new residents whose mother tongue was not an official language (78%).
- Statistics Canada. National Household Survey 2011. Retrieved though the Data Consortium
A high proportion of the population in some Ottawa neighbourhoods consists of seniors living alone
Social isolation has a significant impact on both community and individual health and well-being. Social isolation is a particular concern in the seniors’ population, given the risk of diminishing ability to care adequately for oneself and one’s home.
While living alone does not equate to social isolation, it does suggest an increased risk. The proportion of seniors living alone in Ottawa varies greatly between neighbourhoods. In Woodroffe-Lincoln Heights, for example, seniors living alone account for almost 22% of the total population. A high concentration of seniors can increase the likelihood of social interaction and the ease of providing services. But this is also a neighbourhood with a relatively low walkability score of 46%, increasing the risk that seniors living alone will feel isolated. In contrast, Kinburn seniors comprise only 10% of the population, 17% of whom live alone. While a high proportion of Lowertown seniors live alone, this is a more walkable neighbourhood. This means higher potential for physical activity, social interaction, and ability to access services.
- Ottawa Neighbourhood Study. Accessed March 7, 2017.