North·NWT Votes 2019

Yellowknife's election ridings, by the numbers

Census data collected by the N.W.T. Bureau of Statistics reveals interesting divergences between Yellowknife’s seven electoral districts.

Data reveals divides between electoral districts

A look at statistical data for Yellowknife seven electoral districts reveals stark contrasts. (CBC)

Who are your fellow constituents?

Census data collected by Statistics Canada and matched to Yellowknife's seven territorial ridings by the N.W.T. Bureau of Statistics reveals some interesting divergences between the city's neighbourhoods.

CBC News examined the data to profile each of the city's ridings. Here are the most interesting things we found.

North & South: Affluent, educated, and government-employed

Yellowknife's largest riding by population is Yellowknife North, which encompasses the neighbourhoods of Old Town and Niven Lake, part of downtown, and houses along the Ingraham Trail.

Despite boasting many of the city's oldest structures, the district has actually seen the most new building of any area. Almost half of the houses built in the last 10 years have been built in Yellowknife North — more than 260 of them.

Paradoxically, Yellowknife North also has the most long-term residents of any district. More than 87 per cent have lived in Yellowknife more than five years. Those residents also tend to be high-earning. One in four of the city's top earners — people who take home more than $100,000 per year — live in the district.

Yellowknife North includes the city's Old Town and the houseboaters of Yellowknife Bay, as well as the newer suburb of Niven Lake, parts of downtown, and residents on the Ingraham Trail. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Almost a third of the city's entrepreneurs call Yellowknife North home, but the district's single biggest voting bloc by employment is public employees, who also account for a third of the population. It's also the city's brainiest district — three quarters of residents over 25 have some form of post-secondary degree.

It may not be a surprise, then, that Yellowknife North is also the city's most bilingual district, where 22 per cent of residents reported speaking both of Canada's official languages.

It shares its Frenchiness with Yellowknife South, with the two districts dividing most of the 55 people who reported French as their only language between them.

Like Yellowknife North, Yellowknife South is home to high earners. There aren't many households reporting an income near or below Alternative North's estimated living wage of around $45,000 per year — census data says only nine houses earn $49,000 or less.

The district is also home to the city's biggest houses, where 44 per cent have eight or more rooms. That extra room is needed — 41 per cent of households have four or more people in them.

Weirdly, though, the district also has the city's highest unemployment rate, at 7.3 per cent.

Suburban Range Lake has Yellowknife's highest household incomes, and is the city's most diverse riding. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Range Lake the city's richest, most diverse

Perhaps that's why the city's richest riding is neither Yellowknife North nor South — it's Range Lake, which is home to the most mining and oil and gas workers of any district.

In Range Lake, four in 10 households report an annual income of $200,000 or more — not exactly Scrooge McDuck status with Yellowknife's cost of living, but the highest income bracket Statistics Canada includes on its forms. That would feel good to check off.

The district is also one of the city's most diverse. While in Yellowknife North and South, fewer than 20 per cent of residents identify as Aboriginal, in Range Lake, it's one in four.

It's also home to one in five of the city's non-Canadian citizens, and it's become a popular spot for immigration in recent years — a third of immigrants who arrived between 2011 and 2016 live in the district.

Yellowknife Centre is home to most of Yellowknife's high rises and apartment buildings, including Sunridge Place, pictured here. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

City's urban ridings report low incomes, high cost of living

The city's two urban ridings are similarly diverse, but their incomes are much lower.

Yellowknife Centre and Great Slave are home to most of the city's highrises and apartment buildings, so it makes sense that they're also home to most of the city's renters.

But the data also shows almost half of those ridings' residents live around or below the Alternative North minimum living wage of $45,000 per year, and Yellowknife Centre ties Yellowknife South for its high unemployment rate.

Yellowknife Centre is also the city's least affordable district, where almost one in four rent- or mortgage-paying residents spend more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs. That's despite the fact that the district is home to the city's oldest housing stock — more than 60 per cent of houses are nearing 50 years old.

Maybe those high prices are putting stress on people's marriages. Almost one-quarter of Yellowknife's divorcees live in Yellowknife Centre, and it's also home to more than a third of the city's widows. Together, they make up almost 13 per cent of the district's population.

There are some silver linings. Great Slave is home to the second-most residents with post-secondary degrees, and the most new residents — people who moved to Yellowknife in the past year account for 13 per cent of the population.

Frame Lake, which includes the Northlands trailer park pictured here, is the city's smallest — and whitest — district. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Frame Lake, Kam Lake buck the trends

Outside of the urban ridings, Kam Lake is home to the most renters — almost 40 per cent of residents rent there.

It's also where immigrants form the largest voting bloc. Almost one in five residents of the district immigrated to Canada.

In tiny Frame Lake, the city's smallest district, there's the opposite story — 96.8 per cent of residents are Canadian citizens, more than any other district besides Yellowknife South. It's the city's whitest district, where more than 87 per cent of residents don't identify as a member of a visible minority.

Frame Lake is also the city's least educated district — almost one in five of the city's residents over 25 without any certificate, diploma or degree call the district home.

And this is a tricky one for politicians — almost a quarter of the district's population can't vote at all. That's because they're aged 14 or under. That's a lot of kids!

Census data tweaked to fit districts

The data comes from the Canadian census, meaning most of these numbers are from 2016.

In some cases — for example, data about citizenship, visible minority status, education, or employment — a 25 per cent sample is taken and used to estimate total numbers. In other cases, like for income, the census includes 100 per cent of residents — as of 2016.

Statistics Canada separates data by "dissemination area," not by electoral district, so the N.W.T. Bureau of Statistics had to estimate in some cases in building the dataset we used.

All to say, these numbers may not be perfect — but they sure are interesting!


  • An earlier version of this story said three-quarters of Yellowknife North residents had post-secondary degrees, and one in five Yellowknife residents without post-secondary degrees lived in Frame Lake. In fact, both statistics exclude residents under 25. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.
    Sep 23, 2019 9:09 AM CT


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