Local context

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The City of Saskatoon, with a population of 196,811 in 2001,1 constitutes the main municipality in the Saskatoon census metropolitan area (CMA), which had a population of 225,927 in 2001. The Saskatoon CMA is the most populous in Saskatchewan, followed by Regina (192,800 inhabitants in 2001), and ranks 17th among the 27 CMAs in the country.

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Geographic definitions

The census metropolitan area (CMA) is an area consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities situated around a major urban core. To be included in the CMA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from the Census place of work data. With the exception of some contextual elements in the first section, analyses in this document are based on the City of Saskatoon, and not on the entire CMA. The City of Saskatoon is the most populous municipality of the Saskatoon CMA in terms of residents and workers.

Neighbourhoods mentioned in the document were defined by the City of Saskatoon (Community Services Department, City Planning Branch) as planning units which are representative of local communities. In the current study, boundaries of 69 neighbourhoods have been recreated from the census blocks of Statistics Canada in order to calculate crime variables and neighbourhood characteristics. A block is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas. Since block boundaries do not always follow neighbourhood boundaries, all official neighbourhood boundaries have not been exactly reproduced.

Statistics Canada dissemination areas (DAs) are small areas composed of one or more blocks, with a population of 400 to 700 persons. DAs have been used rather than neighbourhoods for multivariate analyses of the third section in this study because they are more numerous (328).

In contrast to the trend observed in the province of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon CMA experienced uninterrupted growth in its population between 1990 and 2001.2 According to Statistics Canada's population estimates,3 this growth was essentially maintained by natural growth, the growth that results from more births than deaths, (+6,144 between 1996 and 2001) and a sub-provincial migration balance (+4,907), which offset a negative interprovincial migration balance (-7,916). In other words, many residents leave the Saskatoon CMA for other provinces, while many residents from elsewhere in Saskatchewan come to live in the CMA.

With a median age of 34.4 years, the Saskatoon CMA was Canada's youngest city in 2001, followed by the Calgary CMA (34.9 years). In the same year, the Saskatoon CMA also had the highest percentage of Aboriginal people in its population (9.1%), followed by Winnipeg (8.4%).

The City of Saskatoon is divided by the South Saskatchewan River (Map 1). Seven bridges connect the east and west sections of the city. The city's downtown area is located on the west side. As a result of revitalization in the 1950s and 1960s, the downtown now has several large commercial establishments, along with condominium projects developed in the 1980s.

Map 1  Local context and dissemination areas (DAs), City of Saskatoon, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Map 1
Local context and dissemination areas (DAs), City of Saskatoon, 2001

On the west side of the South Saskatchewan River, the neighbourhoods adjacent to the downtown area, and especially Pleasant Hill and Riversdale (Map 2), are made up of populations with lower socio-economic resources (City of Saskatoon, 2005; Wilkie and Berdahl, 2007). According to 2001 Census data, 63% of the residents in these neighbourhoods lived in a low-income family, 29% lived in a lone-parent family and 47% were Aboriginal peoples.

Map 2  City of Saskatoon neighbourhoods, 2007. Opens a new browser window.

Map 2
City of Saskatoon neighbourhoods, 2007

The socio-economic profile is different east of the river where neighbourhoods are wealthier (City of Saskatoon, 2005; Wilkie and Berdahl, 2007). The University of Saskatchewan is located in this part of the city, north of the Nutana neighbourhood. All of the CMA's university activities are consolidated on a vast 12-square-kilometre campus. The university has almost 20,000 registered students.

Saskatoon's commercial activities are mainly concentrated in a few shopping centres (e.g. Confederation shopping area, The Mall at Lawson Height), on a few commercial arteries (Circle Drive North, 8th, 20th and 22nd Streets) and in the downtown area.


  1. At the time this paper was prepared, some of the data from the 2006 Census had not been released. Since the analyses compare crime data to census data, the data relates to 2001.
  2. According to the most recent census, this growth continued until 2006.
  3. Statistics Canada's estimates of population are extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources. They are provided quarterly.