Edmonton's downtown communities have 'walkability' millennials crave, analysis suggests

A new list of Edmonton's most liveable neighbourhoods might have more people giving a second look at some inner-city communities.

A new list livable neighbourhoods might get more people looking at the inner city

Two University of Alberta students analyzed Edmonton neighbourhoods with an eye to ones that would best meet the needs of millennials. (CBC )

A new list of Edmonton's most livable neighbourhoods might have more people giving a second look at some inner-city communities.

Two University of Alberta students, Stephanie Kovach and Janna Bradshaw, used open data from the city to analyze neighbourhoods with an eye to ones that would meet the needs of Edmonton's millennials.

"We think that millennials are looking for, first and foremost, walkability," Kovach said in an interview on CBC's Edmonton AM.

"Easy access to transit. Easy access to local restaurants, pubs, shopping and recreation opportunities."

Kovach and Bradshaw, both fourth-year urban and regional planning students, based their criteria on livability factors from a study done by the University of Melbourne, including things like proximity to schools, public transportation and libraries.

They then applied their own millennial wisdom to weed out factors such as facilities for seniors.

The result? Downtown's Central McDougall, a neighbourhood often associated with subsidized housing, safe injection sites and crime, surfaced as the best neighbourhood for Edmontonians born between 1981 and 1997.

"We must say we were a bit surprised," said Kovach. "But once we took a closer look at the neighbourhood, we realized it checked off a lot of boxes on our list for things that millennials and other age groups would be interested in when looking for a diverse neighbourhood, an affordable neighbourhood and a dense neighbourhood."

In fact, she said, Central McDougall or McCauley would be her starting points if she was house hunting. It has all the amenities of neighbourhoods like Oliver, Strathcona or Glenora, which "would just unfortunately be out of our price range."

Bradshaw said they had been provided with crime statistics for 2017 from the Edmonton Police Service for the analysis. In the case of Central McDougall, the pair discovered that all of the positive factors outweighed the crime.

As well, "the crime in Central McDougall wasn't as high as some people might perceive," Bradshaw said. "Perception is a huge piece of our analysis."

That said, crime numbers — or, more accurately, a lack of same — was likely behind another neighbourhood that made the list, a tiny southwest community near the Terwillegar Recreation Centre called Carter Crest.

"The thing that really propelled Carter Crest to the top of our list, we think, is that it actually had zero incidents of crime reported in 2017," said Kovach.

"We don't necessarily think it speaks to the walkability piece that we were really trying to get at with our research. But don't forget, millennials aren't just super young 20s.

"They're also in the mid-30s, maybe starting families, looking for homes. And Carter Crest might be  perfect neighbourhood for people like that."