As Voted by Avenue Readers... Best Neighbourhoods 2015
By Avenue Staff | August 1, 2015
Population: 9,618 Total Dwelling Units: 6,345
So everything old is new again, right? For the fourth year in a row, Strathcona has been voted by you, the Avenue readers, as Edmonton’s best neighbourhood in which to live.
But Strathcona’s margin of victory is smaller in 2015 than it has been in previous years. And, for the first time, it didn’t earn the highest number of first-place votes. It got back to the top thanks to a large number of second-, third- and fourth-place votes. But it also finished second in our “most overrated neighbourhood” poll. Still, Strathcona remains our ideal; it’s an example of a dense urban neighbourhood that has plenty of amenities. According to the 2014 Edmonton census, just 27 per cent of the residences in Strathcona are single detached homes. Two-thirds of Strathcona residents live in apartments, either in high-rises or walkups.
It also continues to keep young residents after they’ve left the University of Alberta, located just one neigbourhood over in Garneau. According to the census, the 25-29 age group is the largest demographic in the neighbourhood; 20-24 and 30-34 round out the top three age groups. -Steven Sandor
Population: 3,572 Total Dwelling Units: 1,588
Glenora finished second in our best neighbourhood vote. But it was also the runaway winner in the “most overrated neighbourhood” poll.
It is the most established “have” neighbourhood in the city. It has dream homes and giant lots, all within a few minutes of the downtown core. Visit Alexander Circle, where a number of historic homes surround a grand fountain, on Halloween night. Marvel at the number of families who parachute in, knowing it’s home to some of the best treats and family fun in the city.
But, as the most-overrated vote shows, it’s a polarizing neighbourhood. And there’s no doubt that, to many, Glenora feels almost like a gated community.
In a recent poll by the Glenora Community League, residents opposed the city’s plan of allowing lots 50 feet or wider to be subdivided so smaller infill homes could be built. The final tally? An overwhelming 115-42 against. And, when asked if 17-foot wide homes should be allowed, the community voted 114-42 against.
According to Edmonton’s 2014 census, of the 1,588 total dwellings in the neighbourhood, 1,151 are detached homes. It is anything but a dense community.
The historic Glenora School, located in the wedge of land that separates 102nd Avenue from Stony Plain Road, opened in 1940, and brings back memories of the old schoolhouse. Glenora residents voted 136-21 in favour of listing it as a heritage building.
With tree-lined streets and large, character homes, Glenora is still seen as Edmonton’s No. 1 community of influence. But, in an era where City Hall is promoting density, Glenora stands out as a place where there’s room to stretch out. -S.S.
Population: 19,135 Total Dwelling Units: 13,914
It’s still the most densely populated neighbourhood in Edmonton. It’s still downtown’s pedestrian-filled neighbour, and it’s still in the top three of the city’s best neighbourhoods, as voted by Avenue‘s readers.
But what makes Oliver one of Edmonton’s favourite places to live? Serene river valley views, the proximity to downtown and 124th Street, the unique mix of character homes and a wealth of rentals – all combining to make it perfect for young professionals.
Census results show that younger Edmontonians are moving into Oliver, and with Oliver Square and the soon-to-be-opened Brewery District only a short walk away for most, the neighbourhood is perfect for people who crave an existence less reliant on cars.
With a youth market that prevalent, it is no surprise that, according to the 2014 municipal census, 62.6 per cent of its residents are renters. But with new condo developments such as the towering 35-storey Pearl on the rise, the possibilities for home ownership are coming back in a big way. -Cory Haller
Population: 6,111 Total Dwelling Units: 3,605
Since Avenue launched its Best Neighbourhoods survey, Westmount has never failed to earn a spot in the top five. It’s not hard to see why – the neighbourhood’s heritage homes and tree-lined streets provide a tranquil setting close to the 124th Street shopping district. In the first half of the 20th century, the majority of dwellings in Westmount were single detached homes. In recent years, though, the number of apartment buildings has increased. Of the 3,605 occupied dwellings in the neighbourhood, 40.3 per cent are single detached homes, while apartment buildings less than five stories comprise 44.2 per cent. The demographic is fairly spread out, with nearly equal amounts between the ages of 20 and 29 as between 50 and 59.
To preserve the unique character of Westmount, both private and public initiatives have been started in the past decade to develop specific heritage preservation guidelines. -Adrianna Szenthe
Population: 2,666 Total Dwelling Units: 1,362
While Highlands moves up three spots from its eighth-place ranking in 2014 to round out our top five this year, it actually had the second-most first-place votes out of all neighbourhoods.
A distinguishing feature of Highlands is the abundance of single detached homes – while they comprise about half the dwellings in an average Edmonton neighbourhood, single detached homes make up 86 per cent of dwellings in Highlands. Additionally, 83 per cent of dwellings were constructed before 1960, with many constructed prior to the First World War.
The historic neighbourhood celebrated its 100th birthday in 2012, and it also has a unique shopping area along 112th Avenue with several independent stores and restaurants. -A.S.
Population: 4,243 Total Dwelling Units: 2,560
Ritchie is a community on the rise, not only in our Best Neighbourhoods ranking – it went from ninth place in 2014 to sixth, and actually garnered the most first-place votes this year – but in other indicators as well. The neighbourhood saw a 12.8 per cent increase in population between 2009 and 2014 as young families look for affordable homes that are close to the city’s core. But even bigger things are on the horizon, as the new Ritchie Market – complete with a brew pub, a coffee house, a bike store and a new home for Acme Meat Market – is scheduled to open next year. –Glenn Cook
Population: 13,148 Total Dwelling Units: 9,230
For some time now, the core of Edmonton has been the talk of the town. The new Rogers Place arena and new Royal Alberta Museum are taking shape; a flurry of new builds and sky-high cranes are ever-present. But, surprisingly, this year’s neighbourhoods survey found downtown dropping from fourth to seventh place. Perhaps some of what makes downtown so appealing is also the reason for its lost standing. As the area is known as one of the city’s top dining destinations, and with an entertainment district on its way, downtown isn’t considered a family-oriented neighbourhood. In fact, downtown rose to first place in neighbourhoods that Edmontonians consider the best for first-time buyers and empty nesters, and second place for investment, making it ideal for those who work, play and dine without children in tow. –C.H.
Population: 9,942 Total Dwelling Units: 6,660
One of Edmonton’s oldest inner-city neighbourhoods remains one of its best, at least according to Avenue’s annual survey. Though it dropped from sixth place last year to eighth in 2015, Garneau – which was first developed more than 100 years ago – is still a great mix of residential and commercial, with plenty of restaurants, shops and entertainment options for the nearly 10,000 people who call the neighbourhood home. While some single-detached homes remain, much of Garneau has been converted to multi-family buildings, making it an ideal place for students at the nearby University of Alberta to call home for at least eight months of the year. –G.C.
Population: 2,062 Total Dwelling Units: 1,067
Nestled in beside the North Saskatchewan River and river valley escarpment, Riverdale seems a world away from the bustle of the city – even though City Hall is only one kilometre away. The neighbourhood’s greenery and charm brings residents in and keeps their loyalty, as 46 per cent of Riverdale dwellers have been there for five years or more. It didn’t make our Top 10 in 2014, but it’s easy to see why this serene community has made a comeback this year. –A.S.
Population: 2,287 Total Dwelling Units: 953
Holding steady in 10th place in this year’s Best Neighbourhoods survey is Crestwood, the west-end subdivision that’s surrounded on two sides by ravines and on a third by the North Saskatchewan River. Those green spaces and the spectacular views they provide are big factors in drawing residents into the neighbourhood, where development began in the 1950s. While the number of people living in the neighbourhood and the number of dwelling units dipped ever so slightly between the 2012 and 2014 municipal censuses, Crestwood remains almost exclusively a residential neighbourhood, with only a small smattering of commercial buildings mixed in. However, the retailers there are ones that people will travel across the city to visit. –G.C.