Old Ottawa East is different

By John Dance

The relative poverty of Old Ottawa East’s young adults, our unaffordable and non-subsidized housing, our high education levels, and our lousy walking are just some of the fascinating demographics of this community that come to light in newly compiled data found on the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study website.

For instance, 71 percent of OOE residents ages 25-64 have a bachelor level education or above versus the Ottawa average of 45 percent. Similarly, only one percent of this age cohort hasn’t got a
high school diploma versus six percent for the entire city. So, we’re a well- educated bunch.

On the other hand, 51 percent of the 15-24 age group is poor (in the “low income prevalence” group), almost triple the Ottawa average. This may be because of the disproportionate number of post-secondary students who live in OOE but, regardless, it’s a striking difference.

Similarly, OOE “household tenure” differs markedly from the Ottawa average. We have more renters than owners: just 47 percent of residents are in “owner households” unlike the 66 percent city average.

About a quarter of OOE residents live in the five Lees Avenue towers. Another notable difference is that only about 1 percent of tenants are in subsidized housing versus 16 percent for the city as a whole.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 37 percent of OOE households are in “unaffordable housing” compared to 24 percent for the city.

“The Ottawa Neighbourhood Study (ONS) provides data on strengths and challenges for each neighbourhood in Ottawa,” says its website. “By all working together, we can improve the neighbourhoods in which we live.”

Much of the ONS data is derived from Canada’s 2016 Census compiled by Statistics Canada, but other sources are cited in the ONS study for some indicators.

OOE is notably younger than the Ottawa average with a median age of about 34 versus 40 for the city. In terms of population by age group, the proportion who are 15-24 is about twice
that of the Ottawa proportion.

Again, this may be because OOE is home to Saint Paul University and the Lees campus of the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) and is close to the main  campuses of Carleton and uOttawa.

In terms of marital status, about 8 percent are “separated/divorced/ widowed” versus 13 percent city-wide. A surprising 41 percent of adults have never married versus 30 percent city-wide. Single parent families in OOE are 11 percent of the total families versus 16 percent in Ottawa.

Just half of one percent of residents can speak neither English nor French, one-third of the city-wide rate. OOE’s proportions of visible minorities (26 percent) and “newcomers” (3 percent) are close to the city-wide figures.

A big difference is that 10 percent of OOE is made up of “non-permanent residents” compared to just 2 percent for the city. Again, this may be a reflection of the transient student population.

Housing mobility statistics show that 22 percent of OOE residents moved in the last year versus 14 percent city-wide.

The additional cycling infrastructure of the past five years results in OOE having a very high “cyclability score” of 95.7 of a possible 100. And 12 percent of residents bike to work, five times the Ottawa rate.

Conversely, our “walkability score” compares unfavorably with the Glebe and Old Ottawa South.

Nevertheless, 17 percent of residents walk to work versus 7 percent for all Ottawans. Similarly, 47 percent drive to work compared to 68 percent of all Ottawans.

ONS has provided updated population statistics for OOE in order to reflect the community’s boundaries as defined by the OOE community design plan (CDP). The consequence is that an area that ONS previously included as part of Old Ottawa South is now included within OOE.

The 2016 population of OOE was 7,350, up by 44 percent from the 2011 figure when a part of OOE was included within the OOS population numbers.

As a result of the data now reflecting the CDP boundaries, Old Ottawa East now has more people than Old Ottawa South.

The data cited above and others in the ONS data sets are teasers. But what they mean may warrant further investigation and action to address disparities. To explore the many data sets on the ONS site, go to https://www.neighbourhoodstudy.ca/.

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