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Commuting in Yellowknife: A slice of efficiency and sustainability

January 9, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EST)

Whether you commute into your job in the capital of the Northwest Territories or you live and work there, the commuting numbers for Yellowknife suggest steps toward a smaller environmental footprint in the snowy north.

Data from the 2021 Census of Population counted 8,425 workers aged 15 and older in the census agglomeration (CA) of Yellowknife whose usual place of residence and work were within its 103.37 square kilometres.

Of those workers, 6,225, or nearly three in four (73.9%), commuted by car, truck or van. A roughly similar proportion (73.4%) of these automobile commuters were the driver (and the only worker) in the vehicle. This rate was lowest among all provincial and territorial capitals and other major urban centres in which workers had a usual place of work and residence, none of which had a rate below 84%. (Note: no data were collected for Iqaluit, Nunavut.)

Another 1,275 workers (15.1% of all workers) in the Yellowknife CA were among those who shared the ride to work with two or more persons in the same vehicle.

There were also 105 workers who took public transit, and 1,880 who opted for active transportation such as walking or cycling.

Nearly three in five (58.8%) who got to work by active transportation had an average commute time of less than 15 minutes, compared with roughly three in four (75.5%) across all modes of transportation.

Another 215 workers commuted by other methods—a category which can include airplane, boat or even dogsled!

More northern drivers are opting for environmentally friendly cars as well. Although gasoline-powered vehicles accounted for nearly 9 in 10 (88.5%) of the 27,713 motor vehicles registered in the Northwest Territories in 2021, the number of registrations for hybrid electric vehicles nearly doubled to 105 compared with 57 in 2020. Because of a handful of new registrations in 2021, the number of battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles was also up compared with 2020.

Vehicles weighing less than 4,535 kilograms, along with motorcycles and mopeds, combined to make up nearly 9 in 10 (89.1%) of all motor vehicle registrations in 2021.

North of 60, from away

Statistics Canada gathered detailed commuting data for 152 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and CAs across the country in 2021, and 17 of these were the usual place of residence of workers who travelled to Yellowknife for work—for days, weeks or months at a time.

The Edmonton CMA had 70 residents working in Yellowknife, while the Winnipeg CMA had 35 and the St. John’s CMA had 30. The Halifax CMA had 25.

The Toronto and Vancouver CMAs had 20 workers each who punched their clocks in Yellowknife, while the Kelowna, Calgary, Montréal and Ottawa–Gatineau CMAs, as well as the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, CA each had 15 residents working in Yellowknife.

The CAs of Whitehorse, Yukon; Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; Squamish, British Columbia; Courtenay, British Columbia; and Grand Falls–Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador; and the CMA of Nanaimo, all had 10 residents each who worked in the territorial capital.

The industries

In 2021, those working in occupations in education, law and social, community and government services made up over one-fifth (22.2%) of the employed labour force (15 years of age and older) in Yellowknife. There were nearly equal proportions of those working in business, finance and administration (20.2%), and sales and service occupations (19.5%).

Those employed in trades as transport and equipment operators and in related occupations made up 15.3%. All other broad occupational categories accounted for less than 10% each.

In 2020, the median after-tax income of households in Yellowknife was $126,000, outpacing the Northwest Territories ($109,000) and Canada ($73,000).

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (