Forward Sortation Area Boundary File, Reference Guide, Census year 2016

Release date: September 13, 2017

This reference guide is intended for users of the 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File. The guide provides an overview of the file, the general methodology used to create it, and important technical information for users.

What's new?

© This data includes information copied with permission from Canada Post Corporation.

OM. Postal code is an official mark of Canada Post Corporation.

1. About this guide

This reference guide does not provide details on specific software packages that are available for use with the 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File. Users are advised to contact the appropriate software vendor for information.

This data product is provided 'as-is,' and Statistics Canada makes no warranty, either express or implied, including but not limited to, warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will Statistics Canada be liable for any direct, special, indirect, consequential or other damages, however caused.

2. Overview

The 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area (FSA) Boundary File depicts the boundaries of 1,620 forward sortation areas (identified by the first three characters of the postal codeOM) derived from postal codesOM captured from the 2016 Census of Population questionnaires.

Through analysis of the postal codesOM reported by census households, a single FSA was assigned to each dissemination area based on the most frequently reported FSA for the dissemination area. Unreported dissemination areas were assigned an FSA based on proximity to reported dissemination area in the same province or territory or nearest Canada Post Corporation delivery installation.

The 2016 Census FSA Boundary File provides a framework for mapping and spatial analysis. It is available in two types: cartographic and digital. The cartographic boundary file depicts the 2016 FSAs with the shoreline of the major land mass of Canada and its coastal islands. The digital boundary file depicts the full extent of the 2016 FSAs, including the coastal water area. Figure 2.1 illustrates an example of cartographic and digital boundary files in Lambert conformal conic projection.

Figure 2.1 Example of a cartographic boundary file and a digital boundary file (provinces and territories)

Description for Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1 shows two representations of Canada's provincial and territorial boundaries. The map on the left shows an illustration of Canada as it appears in a cartographic boundary file. It is a detailed representation of Canada’s land masses (including islands) and shorelines. Internal bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, are also shown.

The map on the right shows a map of Canada as it appears in a digital boundary file. It is a generalized illustration of Canada’s boundaries. Each province and territory is represented by a single polygon, thus the boundaries extend into bodies of water, rather than follow the shoreline. As a result, boundaries may cut through lakes, extend into oceans, or follow the approximate centres of rivers.

For more information on this figure, please contact Statistics Canada at 1-800-263-1136.

How to cite this guide

Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File, Reference Guide, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-179-G. 

How to cite this product

Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-179-X.

Acknowledgements

© This data includes information copied with permission from Canada Post Corporation.

3. About this product

Purpose of the product

The purpose of the 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area (FSA) Boundary File is to provide a spatial representation of forward sortation areas as reported by census respondents and to facilitate the linkage of 2016 Census data. The 2016 Census FSA Boundary File can be used with the suite of 2016 Census Boundary Files and the 2016 Census Road Network File, which provides additional reference for mapping.

This product is based upon reported postal codesOM rather than the postal codeOM assigned to the address by Canada Post Corporation. As a result, they should be interpreted as places where respondents reported a postal codeOM other than the one assigned by Canada Post Corporation.

Other differences may arise from the methodology used to delineate the FSA boundaries. As described in Section 5, Data quality, the method used for this product relies on the 2016 Census responses, while those of Canada Post Corporation's are a result of the assignment of postal codesOM for use as a delivery mechanism.

Content

The 2016 Census FSA Boundary File contains boundaries for 1,620 FSAs. In total, census respondents reported 1,641 FSAs, 21 of which are not represented given the methodology described in Section 5, Data quality/Completeness. The 1,620 FSAs portrayed in the boundary file cover the entire country.

A breakdown of the number of FSAs by province and territory is provided below.

Table 3.1
Number of forward sortation areas by province and territory
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of forward sortation areas by province and territory. The information is grouped by Province or territory (appearing as row headers), Forward sortation areas (appearing as column headers).
Province or territory Forward sortation areas
Newfoundland and Labrador 35
Prince Edward Island 7
Nova Scotia 77
New Brunswick 110
Quebec 413
Ontario 513
Manitoba 66
Saskatchewan 48
Alberta 153
British Columbia 189
Yukon 3
Northwest Territories 3
Nunavut 3
Canada 1,620

General methodology

 The 2016 Census FSA Boundary File contains the boundaries of 1,620 FSAs derived from postal codesOM captured from 2016 Census questionnaires. By analysing the postal codesOM reported by census households, a single FSA was assigned to each dissemination area (most often the FSA reported by the largest number of census households). FSA polygons were formed by a single dissemination area and or groupings of dissemination areas.

For the census, the postal codeOM is captured for all households from the address provided by respondent or confirmed by information on the front page of the 2016 Census questionnaire.

Creation of the 2016 Census FSA Digital Boundary File

Step 1: Initial assignment of FSAs to dissemination areas

Data for FSAs was extracted from the 2016 Census respondent information for each household.  These households were associated to the dissemination area geographic code in which they are located.  Counts of FSAs reported by households were tabulated for each dissemination area.  These FSA counts were then ranked within the individual dissemination area establishing a dominant or most frequently reported FSA within the dissemination area.

Figure 3.1 Assignment of FSAs to dissemination areas

Description for Figure 2.1

This is a graphical representation of the initial assignment of forward sortation areas to dissemination areas

Step 2: Creation of the initial FSA polygon layer

FSA to dissemination area data was then joined to the basic block native file used to create the 2016 Census Boundary file products (digital and cartographic) using the unique geographic code identifier for each dissemination area.

Step 3: Creation of FSAs

Based on the relationship between dissemination area and FSA, dissemination areas were aggregated and dissolved (using basic blocks) in order to create FSA polygons.

Figure 3.2 Creation of Census Forward Sortation Areas

Description for Figure 3.2

This is a graphical representation of assigning forward sortation area to the dissemination area polygon and aggregating the forward sortation area polygons.

Step 4: Unassigned dissemination areas

Unassigned dissemination areas that did not have an FSA reported from the 2016 Census due to zero population, were assigned an FSA based on their nearest neighbouring dissemination areas FSA within the appropriate province or territory.  That is, unassigned dissemination areas were assigned an FSA based for the most part on the longest arc shared between the unassigned dissemination area and its neighbouring dissemination areas. 

Figure 3.3 Assignment of census forward sortation areas to unassigned dissemination areas

Description for Figure 3.3

This is a graphical representation of the assignment of forward sortation areas to unassigned dissemination areas.

Step 5: Addition of missing FSAs reported by households in the Census

There were 15 FSAs that were formed by the aggregation of dissemination blocks and added to the boundary file.

Figure 3.4 Addition of missing census forward sortation areas

Description for Figure 3.4

This is a graphical representation of the addition of missing forward sortation areas.

Limitations

The positional accuracy of the 2016 Census FSA Boundary File does not support cadastral, surveying, digitizing or engineering applications.

The FSAs contained within this product are those reported by census respondents. The postal codeOM provided by a respondent may not be the same postal codeOM as the one assigned to their dwelling by Canada Post Corporation. Therefore, calculating a provincial population and dwelling count by grouping FSAs will not necessarily yield the same count as the one provided in the provincial or territorial population and dwelling counts table.

The product was created to support the analysis of data from the 2016 Census of Population. It may not be adequate for other purposes, especially if users are interested in business postal codesOM or linking information from other administrative sources.

The geographic data used to create the file were obtained from several sources having a wide range of scales. Boundary files will not be precise if plotted at a larger scale than the scale of the source material used in their creation. Maps created from the boundary file should not be used to determine the precise location of boundaries. The boundary file is not intended to serve as a legal or cadastral representation of 2016 Census FSAs.

Comparison to other products/versions

The 2016 Census FSA Boundary File is compatible with other Statistics Canada spatial data products such as the 2016 Census Road Network File and 2016 Census Boundary Files. The 2016 Census FSA Boundary File is not compatible with the 2011 Census FSA Boundary File.

Using with other products

When considering using the 2016 Census FSA Boundary File, users should be aware of the compatibility of this file with those that are available from other sources. They may not be consistent with Statistics Canada files.

Reference dates

Postal codesOM were determined to be applicable for the 2016 Census if they appeared on Canada Post Corporation's Address Lookup File in May 2016, the month of the census. However, postal codesOM provided by the respondents were considered acceptable if they were found in the file from Canada Post Corporation within the six months leading up to the census. This is consistent with the effort to represent the FSA and the postal codeOM whenever they could be considered as being in use at the time of the census.

4. Technical specifications

Record layouts and data descriptions

The following table identifies and briefly describes the selected attributes comprising the content of the 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File.

Table 4.1
2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File record layout
Table summary
This table displays the results of 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File record layout. The information is grouped by Attribute name (appearing as row headers), Data type and Description (appearing as column headers).
Attribute name Data type Description
FID Object ID (4) Specific to ArcGIS®
Shape Geometry Specific to ArcGIS®
DigitalBoundary CartographicBoundary MultiPolygon PropertyType Shape geometry; specific to Geography Markup Language
CFSAUID Character (3) Uniquely identifies a forward sortation area (composed of three alphanumeric characters)
PRUID Character (2) Uniquely identifies a province or territory
PRNAME Character (55) Province or territory name

Attribute domain values

Province and territory unique identifier (PRUID)

The following is a list of province and territory unique identifiers and their associated name.

PRUID  Province or territory name

10   Newfoundland and Labrador/Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador
11   Prince Edward Island/Île-du-Prince-Édouard
12   Nova Scotia/Nouvelle-Écosse
13   New Brunswick/Nouveau-Brunswick
24   Quebec/Québec
35   Ontario
46   Manitoba
47   Saskatchewan
48   Alberta
59   British Columbia/Colombie-Britannique
60   Yukon
61   Northwest Territories/Territoires du Nord-Ouest
62   Nunavut

Census Forward sortation area unique identifier (CFSAUID)

The following is a list of province and territory unique identifiers and the first letter of the FSAs associated with that province or territory within the FSA Boundary File.

PRUID  FSA first letter

10   A
11   C
12   B
13   E
24   G, H, J
35   K, L, M, N, P
46   R
47   S
48   T
59   V
60   Y
61   X
62   X

Software formats

The 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File is available in the following formats.

File extension and accented character information

The ArcGIS®, Geography Markup Language and MapInfo® files are compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip).

An XML schema file (.xsd) is included to describe and validate the structure and content of the .gml files.

The 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File contains attributes with accented characters. They were successfully tested on desktop versions of ArcGIS® 10.2.2 MapInfo® 12.0 and FME Data Inspector 2015.1.

Geographic representation

The 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File is available on the Statistics Canada website in the following geographic representation:

The North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83) is an adjustment of the 1927 datum that reflects the higher accuracy of geodetic surveying.

Users of 2016 Census Forward sortation boundary File can transform the file into the representation that best satisfies their needs knowing the effects these representations have on angles, areas, distances and direction. Users have the option to choose the best projection in concert with the maps objectives.

File naming convention

Spatial product file names follow a file naming convention. The geographic area and code, file type, geographic reference date, software type and language are embedded within the file name. Standardizing the names of the files facilitates the storage of compressed files, all having the extension .zip.

Each file name is 13 characters in length. All alphabetic characters are in lower case to maintain consistency. 

First character: projection of file

Next three characters: primary geographic level of file

Next three numbers: geographic code of coverage

Next character: file type

Next two numbers: geographic reference date

The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada for the purpose of finalizing the geographic framework for which census statistical data are collected, tabulated and reported. For 2016 Census products, the geographic reference date is January 1, 2016.

Next character: file format

Final two characters: language

5. Data quality

Spatial data quality elements provide information on the fitness-for-use of a spatial database by describing why, when and how the data are created, and how accurate the data are. The quality elements include an overview reporting on the lineage, positional accuracy, attribute accuracy, logical consistency and completeness. This information is provided to users for all spatial data products disseminated for the census.

Lineage

Lineage describes the history of the spatial data, including descriptions of the source material from which the data were derived, and the methods of derivation. It also contains the dates of the source material, and all transformations involved in producing the final digital files.

For boundary file creation, spatial and attribute information were extracted from the Statistics Canada’s Spatial Data Infrastructure. A File Geo Database environment was used to facilitate geo-processing (e.g., projecting, joins, transforming and verification operations).

Sources

The product was derived from the 2016 Census postal codeOM variable and the 2016 Census Boundary files which were derived from the National Geographic Database. The postal codeOM is captured for all households from the address information provided or accepted by the respondent on the front page of the census questionnaire. For the 2016 Census, held on May 10, 2016, some census questionnaires contained a pre-printed postal codeOM that the respondents could either accept or correct; however, other census questionnaires did not contain a pre-printed postal codeOM and respondents were asked to provide a postal codeOM by writing it on the questionnaire. These reported postal codesOM were processed through a series of edit operations that identified missing or invalid responses and replaced them with a valid response to produce the 2016 Census postal codeOM variable. At the end of this process, a final postal codeOM was associated with each census household.

Positional accuracy

Positional accuracy refers to the absolute and relative accuracy of the positions of geographic features. Absolute accuracy is the closeness of the coordinate values in a dataset to values accepted as or being true. Relative accuracy is the closeness of the relative positions of features to their respective relative positions accepted as or being true. Descriptions of positional accuracy include the quality of the final file or product after all transformations.

The Spatial Data Infrastructure is not fully Global Positioning Systems (GPS)-compliant. However, every possible attempt is made to ensure that the geographic area boundaries maintained in the Spatial Data Infrastructure respect the limits of the administrative entities that they represent (e.g., forward sortation areas) or on which they are based (e.g., dissemination areas). The positional accuracy of these limits is dependent upon source materials used by Statistics Canada to identify the location of limits. In addition, due to the importance placed on relative positional accuracy, the positional accuracy of other geographic data (e.g., road network data and hydrographic data) that are stored within the Spatial Data Infrastructure is considered when positioning the limits of the geographic areas.

Attribute accuracy

Attribute accuracy refers to the accuracy of the quantitative and qualitative information attached to each feature (e.g., Census forward sortation area unique identifier).

The attribute data associated with the polygons in the 2016 Census FSA Boundary File are derived from postal codesOM captured from the 2016 Census of Population questionnaires. Edit procedures verify that a reported postal codeOM was valid and consistent with neighbouring postal codesOM. Postal codesOM which failed these checks were imputed, thus ensuring that 100% of the reported postal codesOM were valid postal codesOM according to Canada Post Corporation as of the postal codeOM reference month.

It is important to note that postal codesOM were not verified against Canada Post Corporation's address information, merely that the postal codeOM was considered valid by Canada Post Corporation.

Logical consistency

Logical consistency describes the fidelity of relationships encoded in the data structure of the digital spatial data.

Boundaries found in this product are compatible with those found in other spatial products produced as part of the suite of 2016 Census Geography products. FSA boundaries are derived for the most part from the dissemination area geography of the 2016 dissemination area boundaries and as such are inherently consistent with those features.

The FSA Boundary File is derived from the 2016 Census responses and not from address-based data from Canada Post Corporation. Whole dissemination areas are assigned only one FSA in the FSA Boundary File. Furthermore, since whole dissemination areas are assigned one and only one FSA, the population and dwelling counts derived by aggregating dissemination areas assigned to an FSA will not match the aggregations based on each household's reported FSA.

Consistency with other products

Topology checks were performed with the road network file and the FSA boundary file to measure the degree of integration amongst these products. The results indicated the degree of integration was within the default tolerance parameters as defined below.

XY Resolution: 0.000005 metres

XY Tolerance: 0.00001 metres

The 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File is not necessarily compatible with files available from other sources.

Completeness

Completeness refers to the degree to which geographic features, their attributes and their relationships are included or omitted in a dataset. It also includes information on selection criteria, definitions used, and other relevant mapping rules.

The product contains boundaries for 1,620 FSAs. In total, 1,641 FSAs were reported by at least one household in the 2016 Census.

A reported FSA may not be represented in the 2016 Census FSA Boundary File, includes cases where the FSA may not be the most frequently reported on any dissemination area or an FSA may not have appeared in the Census Respondent information.

It is important to note that in the digital boundary file and cartographic boundary file, a 2016 FSA may be depicted by more than one polygon. In the digital boundary file, there are some 2016 FSAs that have two or more parts (See Table A1 Forward Sortation Area in multipart, 2016 Census for list of FSA in multiple parts). The cartographic boundary file contains additional polygons as a result of removing the coastal water area from the digital boundary file, thus creating several polygons for one 2016 FSA.

Below is a list of the twenty-one forward sortation areas which are not included in the boundary file because they were not the dominant FSA in a dissemination area.

E2R
G1A
H4T
H4Y
H4Z
H5A
H5B
K1A
L5S
L5T
L9E
M5K
M5L
M5W
M5X
M7A
M7Y
S4M
T6N
V7X
V7Y

Appendices

See definitions of the geography universe from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Figure 1.1 Hierarchy of standard geographic area for dissemination, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016

See Table 1.1 Geographic areas by province and territory, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Table 1.5 Census subdivision types by province and territory from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Table A1 Forward Sortation Area in multipart, 2016 Census

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