The changing landscape of Canadian metropolitan areas
Appendix C. Glossary



Agricultural land: agricultural land refers to both 'dependable agricultural land' and to 'agricultural land with limitations,' as defined by the Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability data. Although agricultural land can also be understood to mean all land used by farms—represented by the variable total farm area from Statistics Canada's Census of Agriculture—this usage does not occur in this report.

Agricultural land with limitations: represents agricultural land Class 4 to 6 in the Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability for Agriculture. In this classification, Class 4 land is marginal for crop production and requires the use of additional management or conservation practices, Class 5 is capable of permanent pasture and hay and Class 6 is suitable for natural pasture. Growth in settled area on agricultural land by soil capability class is calculated by overlaying the growth in settled area from 1971 to 2011 on the Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability for Agriculture, 1969 base layer. Agricultural land lost to roads is not included.

Arable land: arable land areas are represented here by the variables cropland, tame or seeded pasture and summerfallow from the Interpolated Census of Agriculture. Use of these variables is consistent with data presented for arable land in Canada by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Data for arable land do not indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable.

Arable land lost to settled area: calculated by overlaying the growth in settled area from 1971 to 2011 on arable land from the Canada Land Inventory: Land Use base layer and, for areas where the 1971 settled area was trimmed, on the area reclassified using AAFC's Land Use, 1990. Included the following CLI: LU classes: cropland, improved pasture and forage crops, orchards and vineyards and horticulture, as well as cropland from Land Use, 1990. Arable land lost to roads is not included in this analysis.

Built-up area: areas characterized by a high percentage of impervious surfaces such as roadways, parking lots and roof tops. Low-density dwellings and small structures or buildings in rural areas outside core built-up areas may not be captured due to the resolution of the data and overlying tree canopy. The spatial data sets used to represent built-up areas in this report include land that is predominantly developed, including the vegetation associated with this land cover. This includes roads, paved surfaces, buildings, railways, industrial sites, mine structures, farmsteads and similar land covers and may include parks and golf courses. Data for built-up area are further categorized in this report as settled areas and roads.

Census metropolitan area (CMA): an area formed by one or more adjacent municipalities that have a high degree of social and economic integration and that are situated around a core population centre. A CMA must have at least 100,000 inhabitants, of which 50,000 or more must live in the core. Once an area becomes a CMA, it is retained as a CMA even if its population declines below 100,000 or the population of its core falls below 50,000. Integration with the core is measured by commuting flows from place of work data from the previous censuses or National Household Survey.

Census metropolitan area-ecosystem (CMA-E): a spatial unit that combines CMAs with an environmental geography—the Soil Landscapes of Canada (SLC). The CMA-E combines any SLC polygon that is contained within or that intersects the CMA boundary, as well as SLC polygons that are fully contained within this newly formed boundary of the CMA-E.

Core: A CMA can have two types of core—the core and the secondary core. The core is the population centre with the highest population, around which a CMA is delineated. The core must have a population (based on the previous census) of at least 50,000 persons. The secondary core is a population centre within a CMA that has at least 10,000 persons and was the core of a census agglomeration (CA) that has been merged with an adjacent CMA.

Densification: the act or process of increasing density—for example of population or dwellings. See also intensification.

Dependable agricultural land: represents agricultural land Class 1 to 3 in the Canada Land Inventory Soil: Capability for Agriculture. In this classification, Class 1 has no significant limitations in use for crops, Class 2 has moderate limitations that require moderate conservation practices and Class 3 has moderately severe limitations that restrict the range of crops or that require special conservation practices. Growth in settled area on agricultural land by soil capability class is calculated by overlaying the growth in settled area from 1971 to 2011 on the Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability for Agriculture, 1969 base layer. Agricultural land lost to roads is not included.

Dissemination area (DA): census geography used from 2001 to 2011, representing a small, relatively stable geographic unit composed of one or more adjacent dissemination blocks. It is the smallest standard geographic area for which all census data can be disseminated.

Dissemination block (DB): census geography used in 2011 and 2006, termed 'block' in 2001. It is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas. The dissemination block is the smallest geographic area for which population and dwelling counts can be disseminated. It replaced the enumeration area as the basic unit for dissemination.

Dwelling density: calculated here as the number of dwellings in the settled area divided by the settled area.

Ecosystem goods and services: the tangible goods (e.g., fish, timber) and less tangible services (e.g., clean air, productive soil) that arise from ecosystem structures and functions and that provide benefits to people.

Ecosystems: ecological communities of living species that interact with their environment and function as a unit. For accounting purposes, the concept is generalized, with ecosystems defined as the area where living species interact among themselves and with their environment.

Enumeration area (EA): census geography used from 1961 to 1996. It was the geographic area canvassed by one census representative and was the smallest standard geographic area for which census data were reported. Wherever possible, EA limits followed visible features such as streets and rivers. The number of dwellings in an EA generally varied between a maximum of 440 in large urban areas to a minimum of 125 in rural areas.

Intensification: refers to development within existing built-up areas, including infill development and redevelopment of previously built areas from lower density to higher density dwelling types. See also densification.

Land cover: the observed physical and biological surface of the Earth and includes biotic (living, such as natural vegetation) and abiotic (non-living, such as rocks) surfaces. Land cover can be determined by field assessment and using aerial and satellite imagery.

Land use: describes the economic and social functions of land to meet human demands, including activities and institutional arrangements to maintain or restore natural habitats. Typical land use classes include agriculture, settled areas and managed areas.

Natural and semi-natural land: calculated as the residual area remaining after subtracting built-up area and arable land from the total area. It includes areas such as forests, grasslands, shrublands, barrenlands, wetlands and water that have undergone little human induced modification. However, because it was calculated residually, it also includes some homes and other buildings, particularly those located on large lots and in rural areas, since these may not be captured by satellite imagery as built-up, due in part to the resolution of the data, but also overlying tree canopy.

Natural and semi-natural land lost to settled area: calculated by overlaying the growth in settled area from 1971 to 2011 on natural and semi-natural land from the Canada Land Inventory: Land Use (CLI: LU) base layer and, for areas where the 1971 settled area was trimmed, on the area reclassified using AAFC's Land Use, 1990. Included the following CLI: LU classes: woodlands, rough grazing and rangeland, outdoor recreation areas, rock and unvegetated surfaces, open wetland and unmapped areas. Natural and semi-natural land lost to roads is not included in this analysis.

Natural capital: the stock of natural assets—land, air, water, living organisms, natural resources—that supplies ecosystem goods and services and other natural resources.

Other natural and semi-natural land: For 2011, the natural and semi-natural land category was broken out into three categories: water, forest and other. This latter category was calculated as a residual, once the built-up, arable, forest and water areas were subtracted from the total CMA-E area.

Other natural and semi-natural land lost to settled area: based on the Canada Land Inventory: Land Use classes could include rock and unvegetated surfaces; wetland; mines, quarries, sand and gravel pits; outdoor recreation areas and unmapped areas.

Population centre: has a minimum population concentration of 1,000 persons and a population density of at least 400 persons per km2, based on the current census population count. Population centres are divided into three groups based on the size of their population to reflect the existence of an urban-rural continuum: small (1,000 to 29,000 people), medium (30,000 to 99,999) and large urban (100,000 and over). In 2011, there were 31 large urban population centres with a total population of 20.1 million people, 54 medium population centres with a total population of 2.9 million and 857 small population centres with a total population of 4.1 million. The term 'population centre' replaces the term 'urban area' used prior to the 2011 Census.

Population density: calculated here as the settled area population divided by the settled area.

Reconciliation unit: a spatial framework used by Environment and Climate Change Canada that combines the Ecological Framework of Canada and provincial and territorial administrative boundaries.

Settled area: In this report, settled area is defined as built-up area not including roads.

Soil Landscapes of Canada (SLC) polygon: SLC polygons delineate the major permanent natural attributes of soil and land for the whole country. These attributes include soil type, surface form, slope, surface water and water table depth, and therefore provide information on some basic ecosystem characteristics. SLC polygons are the smallest building block for the National Ecological Framework for Canada.

Urban expansion: growth of built-up areas, particularly on previously undeveloped land in or near cities.

Urban tree canopy: the layer of leaves, branches and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above, as in remote sensing imagery, in population centres.



Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: