Mapping Toronto's Wellbeing
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Mapping Toronto’s Wellbeing

Last week, the City of Toronto launched the beta version of Wellbeing Toronto, a brand new website that lets users map and compare social, civic, and economic indicators, and rank the results by neighbourhood.
Yes, that’s right, at long last Torontonians have access to a tool that can answer the questions that have plagued the city for centuries. Questions such as: which Toronto neighbourhood has the most (non-subway) TTC stops? (Answer: West Humber-Clairville, with 326 stops.) Or which area has the most sports facilities? (Answer: L’Amoreaux, with 78.) And most importantly, is there a relationship between the two? (Answer: yes actually, most the city’s gyms, fields, and rinks are in the suburbs, where there also tends to be more bus stops.)
To give the application a workout, we went through all of the available data sets and compiled a list (below the fold) of what we think are some of the more interesting comparisons and insights.

Crime on the Waterfront

A composite index of all of the available crime statistics.

One of Wellbeing’s more unique features allows users to create and map multiple indicators. We mapped all of the site’s crime stats (above), and surprisingly Waterfront Communities and Toronto Islands came out the worst, ranking first in sexual assaults, assaults, and thefts, and high in several other categories.
Now, our first lesson about the tool: take the results with a grain of salt. Our crime comparison weights all of the stats equally, meaning that there’s no differentiation between say murder and a lesser crime such as petty robbery.

The Rich are the Most Equal Among Us


The average family living in Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills earns $678,935 a year. And every household must bring in something really close to that figure, as the area also boasts the lowest levels of income inequality in the city (either that or the City’s inequality coefficient just stops working after six figures).

Traffic Collisions vs. Road Volume


Top: Traffic collisions on local and collector roads, from 2006 to 2008. Bottom: Total 24 hour traffic volume, on collector roads only.

According to the stats, there isn’t much of a relationship between traffic volume and the number of automobile accidents on Toronto’s streets. But the data available doesn’t provide the complete picture, as both sets exclude expressways and arterial roads.

City Beautification Initiatives

City beautification, the number of new street furniture items introduced between 2007 and 2009.

For some unfathomable reason, the City associates beautification with its Astral Media street furniture—the more the better the City says. This must explain why Toronto’s waterfront is the envy of every city in North America.

Tree coverage

Total area of tree foliage coverage, measured in square metres.

Mostly thanks to its giant park, the east Toronto neighbourhood of Rouge boasts the most tree coverage in the city. In dead last: North St. James Town, which is also Toronto’s smallest neighbourhood. While gross coverage is interesting, for comparative purposes it would be helpful if the City put out stats detailing average coverage per square metre.

Overcrowded TTC Routes

According to the data, West Humber Clairville has the most overcrowded TTC routes in the city. But thankfully, the residents can look forward to the completion of the Etobicoke Finch West LRT line, which will hopefully relieve some of the strain.

We all work on Bay Street (or nearby)

The Bay Street Corridor employs almost 180,000 people, or put another way, the combined populations of Ajax and Pickering. The neighbourhood with the lowest level of local employment in the city: Lambton Baby Point, which only employs 391 people.

At the moment, Wellbeing Toronto sports 148 different indicators. Not a bad start, but there are still a few thin-looking areas (particularly the education section, which doesn’t have any stats from the Toronto District School Board), and several sets based on 2006 census data and other out-of-date sources that need updating. Fortunately, as the National Post reports, the City plans on making regular content updates.
As it currently exists, the site isn’t particularly user-friendly, but with a few interface tweaks, better data set descriptions, and frequent updates, Wellbeing Toronto could be the online resource Torontonians turn to to better understand their neighbourhood, and how it fits into the city.