Road Network File, Reference Guide, 2023

Release date: July 12, 2023

Skip to text

Text begins

This reference guide is intended for users of the 2023 Road Network File. The guide provides an overview of the file, the general methodology used to create it, and important technical information.

What's new?

  • The attribute of RANK is not included in the 2023 Road Network File as it is no longer being maintained.
  • The 2023 Road Network File includes updates that are made on a continuous basis using various administrative sources and validated using provincial and municipal sources in partnership with Elections Canada.
  • The reference date for the 2023 Road Network File is January 1, 2023.

1. About this guide

This reference guide does not provide details on specific software packages that are available for use with the 2023 Road Network File. Users are advised to contact the appropriate software vendor for information.

This data product is provided 'as-is', and Statistics Canada makes no warranty, express or implied, including but not limited to, warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will Statistics Canada be liable for any direct, special, indirect, consequential or other damages, however caused.

2. Overview

The 2023 Road Network File depicts the digital road line coverage for Canada. It contains information such as street arc unique identifier (UID), name, type, direction and address range, as well as class. It also includes province or territory (PR) and census subdivision (CSD) information for each side of a street arc (where applicable).

The 2023 Road Network File is portrayed in Lambert conformal conic projection (North American Datum of 1983 [NAD83]). The 2023 Road Network File is available as a national file.

3. About this product

Purpose of the product

The purpose of the 2023 Road Network File is to provide a framework for mapping and spatial analysis, and to support Geographic Information System (GIS) applications used for land use and demographic studies, as well as social, economic and market research.

The 2023 Road Network File is positionally consistent with the 2023 Census Subdivision Boundary File, which provides additional reference for mapping.

Note: It is recommended that the “2021 Census Subdivision Boundary File” and the 2021 Road Network File be used as a basis for the retrieval of 2021 Census data for user-defined areas. Users can define their custom areas based on the roads in the 2021 Road Network File. Roads within the 2021 Road Network File correspond to the 2021 geographic frame and therefore do not require additional boundary reconciliation work, which facilitates the geocoding process. For information on custom area creation and geocoding services, please contact us at 1-800-263-1136 or infostats@statcan.gc.ca.

Definitions and concepts

The 2023 Road Network File contains streets, street names, types, directions, classes, and address ranges. Address ranges are dwelling-based.

Geographic terms and concepts are briefly defined in the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021.

Content

The 2023 Road Network File contains street arcs depicting the national road network and includes attribute information such as street arc UID, name, type, direction, address range, and class. It also includes the UID, name and type for each side of a street arc (where applicable) for the following geographic levels:

  • Province or territory (PR)
  • Census subdivision (CSD)

General methodology

The National Geographic Database (NGD) is a joint Statistics Canada-Elections Canada initiative to develop and maintain a spatial database that serves the needs of both organizations. The main objective of the NGD is the continual improvement of quality and currency of spatial coverage using updates from provinces, territories and local sources. The source files used for the creation of the 2023 Road Network File reside on Statistics Canada’s Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), which was derived directly from data stored in the NGD.

Creation of the 2023 Road Network File

The 2023 Road Network File was created from a source file consisting of all streets, highways and other road segments as well as street attributes (name, type, direction, address range, and class) maintained in the NGD. A copy of the source file in its original format was created to facilitate geoprocessing (e.g., joins, modifications and verification operations).

Additional attribute information (i.e., PR and CSD attributes) was then joined to the spatial component at the road segment level (see Table 4.1). The resulting file, containing both the spatial content and the attribute content, was verified against the source file stored in the SDI.

The file was verified for spatial and attribute content, translated into French and English, and appropriately named according to the file naming convention. Final data processing consisted of the conversion from the SDE feature dataset feature class format, using FME® (Safe Software), into the following file formats supported by Geographic Information System (GIS) software: Shapefile (.shp), Geography Markup Language (.gml) and File Geodatabase (.gdb).

The Esri® REST service and Web Map Service (WMS) were created and published using ArcGIS® Enterprise.

The Shapefile, Geography Markup Language and File Geodatabase files were compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip) and made available for download from the Statistics Canada website.

Limitations

Statistics Canada maintains Road Network File information to support the census and other Statistics Canada activities. The relative position of road network features is important in maps created for reference purposes; therefore, relative positional accuracy takes precedence over absolute positional accuracy. The 2023 Road Network File does not contain street information required for route optimization such as one-way streets, dead ends and other street obstacles. Consequently, this file is not recommended for emergency dispatching services.

The 2023 Road Network File contains road arcs with address ranges sourced from field observation or administrative data sources, road arcs with imputed address ranges as well as road arcs without address ranges.

The positional accuracy of the file does not support cadastral, legal, surveying, digitizing or engineering applications.

Comparison to other products or versions

Differences between the 2023 Road Network File and previous versions of the Road Network File include the following:

  • The 2023 Road Network File contains more up to date roads, street names, address ranges and road classes.
  • The 2023 Road Network File is compatible with the 2023 edition of the Census Subdivision Boundary File as well as the 2023 edition of the Interim List of Change to Municipal Boundaries, Status and Names.
  • The 2023 Road Network File does not necessarily follow the boundary files made available as a part of the 2021 Census geographic product line.

Use with other products

When considering using the 2023 Road Network File, users should be aware of the compatibility of this file with those that are available from other sources. They may not be consistent with Statistics Canada files.

Reference date

The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada to finalize the geographic framework for which statistical data are collected, tabulated and reported. The geographic reference date for the 2023 Road Network File is January 1, 2023.

4. Technical specifications

Record layout and data descriptions

The following table identifies and briefly describes the selected attributes comprising the content of the 2023 Road Network File.

Attribute domain values

Representation of unknown or no value

The null value (empty string) is used to represent missing or non-existent values for a street’s name, type, direction and address range.

The null value is also used for geographic area UIDs, names and types to indicate that a geographic area is outside Canada.

Street type (TYPE)

This value indicates the street type associated with the arc.

For information on street types refer to the “Street type (TYPE), 2021 Census” table.

Street direction (DIR)

Street direction can be used in conjunction with street name and type to identify common street elements (e.g., Elm ST S, versus Elm ST W or Elm ST). Street direction has no relation to the direction in which the street arc was digitized.

For information on street directions refer to the “Street direction (DIR), 2021 Census” table.

Left and right census subdivision type (CSDTYPE_L and CSDTYPE_R)

Census subdivisions are classified according to designations adopted by provincial, territorial or federal authorities.

For information on census subdivision types, refer to the “Census subdivision (CSD)” definition from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021 and the “Census subdivision type (CSDTYPE), 2021 Census” table.

Left and right province or territory unique identifier (PRUID_L and PRUID_R)

These values uniquely identify a province or territory.

For information on province or territory unique identifiers, refer to the “Province or territory” definition from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021 and the “Provinces and territories (PRUID), 2021 Census” table.

Street class (CLASS)

The street class code identifies the different types of street features within the 2023 Road Network File.

For information on street classes refer to the “Street class (CLASS), 2021 Census” table.

File specifications

Not applicable

Software formats

The 2023 Road Network File is available for download from the Statistics Canada website in the following formats:

  • Shapefile
    File extension: .shp
  • Geography Markup Language (GML) 3.1.1
    File extension: .gml
  • File Geodatabase
    File extension: .gdb

The 2023 Road Network File is also available as map services from the Statistics Canada website in the following formats:

  • Esri® REST service
  • Web Map Service (WMS)

This reference guide does not provide details on specific software packages available for use with the 2023 Road Network File. Users should contact the appropriate software vendor for such information.

File extension and accented character information

The Shapefile, Geography Markup Language and File Geodatabase files are compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip).

The 2023 Road Network File contains attributes with accented characters. They were successfully tested in ArcGIS® desktop applications version 10.8.1, ArcGIS® Pro 2.8.2 and FME Data Inspector 2019.1®.

Metadata

The downloadable compressed packages (.zip) include a metadata file (.xml) that describes and validates the structure and content of the 2023 Road Network File.

The same metadata are applied to the Esri® REST service and Web Map Service (WMS).

Geographic representation

The 2023 Road Network File is available from the Statistics Canada website in the following geographic representation:

  • Projection: Lambert conformal conic
  • False easting: 6200000.000000
  • False northing: 3000000.000000
  • Central meridian: −91.866667
  • Standard parallel 1: 49.000000
  • Standard parallel 2: 77.000000
  • Latitude of origin: 63.390675
  • Linear unit: metre (1.000000)
  • Datum: North American 1983 (NAD83)
  • Prime meridian: Greenwich
  • Angular unit: degree
  • Spheroid: GRS 1980

The North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83) is an adjustment of the 1927 datum (NAD27) that reflects the higher accuracy of geodetic surveying.

Users of the 2023 Road Network File can transform the file into the representation that best satisfies their needs, knowing of the effects these representations have on angles, areas, distances and direction. Users have the option to choose the best projection in concert with display objectives.

File naming convention

Spatial product file names follow a file naming convention. The file projection, geographic level, geographic coverage, file type, geographic reference date, file format and language are embedded within the file name. Standardizing file names facilitates storage of compressed files, which will all have the .zip extension.

Each file name has 13 characters. All alphabetic characters are lowercase to maintain consistency.

First character: projection of file

  • l - projection in Lambert conformal conic

Next three characters: primary geographic level of file

  • rnf - Road Network File

Next three numbers: geographic code of coverage

  • 000 - Canada

Next character: file type

  • r - Road Network File

Next two numbers: geographic reference date
The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada for the purpose of finalizing the geographic framework for which census data will be collected, tabulated and reported. The reference date for the 2023 Road Network File is January 1, 2023.

  • 23 - geographic reference date is 2023

Next character: file format

  • a - Shapefile (.shp)
  • f - File Geodatabase (.gdb)
  • g - Geography Markup Language (.gml)
  • s - Services (Esri® REST and Web Map Service [WMS])

Final two characters: language

  • _e - English
  • _f - French

5. Data quality

Spatial data quality elements provide information on the fitness for use of a spatial database by describing why, when and how the data are created, and how accurate the data are. The elements include an overview describing the purpose and usage, as well as specific quality elements reporting on lineage, positional accuracy, attribute accuracy, logical consistency and completeness. This information is provided to users for all spatial data products disseminated for the census.

Lineage

Lineage describes the history of the spatial data, including descriptions of the source material from which the data were derived, and the methods of derivation. It also contains the dates of the source material, and all transformations involved in producing the final digital files or map products.

Road information was incorporated from a variety of sources, including provincially sourced data, municipal maps and field observation. The timeliness of the National Geographic Database (NGD) varies from region to region depending on the source data.

For more 2023 Road Network File lineage information, please refer to the General methodology section.

Positional accuracy

Positional accuracy refers to the absolute and relative accuracy of the positions of geographic features. Absolute accuracy is the closeness of the coordinate values in a dataset to true values or values accepted as true. 'Relative accuracy' is the closeness of the relative positions of features to their respective relative positions accepted as or being true. Descriptions of positional accuracy include the quality of the final file or product after all transformations.

Absolute positional accuracy

The information present in the NGD road layer was developed for the purposes of statistical analysis and census operations. The absolute position of roads in the NGD varies with the source files and documents used to build and maintain the database. Therefore, the road layer is not suitable for high-precision measurement applications such as engineering or property transfers, nor for other uses that might require highly accurate measurements of the earth’s surface.

Absolute positional accuracy is not a requirement for census processes.

Relative positional accuracy

For the NGD, relative positional accuracy is important. A road must appear in its proper position relative to other roads and physical features.

Attribute accuracy

Attribute accuracy refers to the accuracy of the quantitative and qualitative information attached to each feature (such as population for a population centre, a street name, or a census subdivision name and code).

No explicit testing for attribute accuracy is done; however, results from internal operations suggest a high degree of accuracy.

Data entry during maintenance operations includes a data control process to ensure that attributes are properly associated to a specific geometric feature. This includes the association, as well as its accuracy.

Logical consistency

Logical consistency describes the dependability of relationships encoded in the data structure of the digital spatial data.

The 2023 Road Network File was verified against data in the SDI and found to be logically consistent.

Consistency with other products

The position of the arcs in the 2023 Road Network File is not necessarily consistent with previous editions of boundary files or road network files as a result of updates made using provincially, territorially and locally sourced data.

Topology checks were performed with the 2023 Road Network File and the 2023 Census Subdivision Boundary File to measure the degree of integration amongst these products. The results indicated that the degree of integration was within the default tolerance parameters, as defined below.

  • Tolerance: 0.00001 metres
  • Resolution: 0.000005 metres

Completeness

Completeness refers to the degree to which geographic features, their attributes and their relationships are included or omitted in a dataset. It also includes information on selection criteria, definitions used and other relevant mapping rules.

New road features have been added to the NGD to create a more complete road layer and are present in this edition of the 2023 Road Network File.

Appendices

See Figure 1.1, “Hierarchy of standard geographic areas for dissemination, 2021 Census,” from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021.

See the 2023 Census Subdivision Boundary File.


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: