I have a census tract boundary shapefile for the province of BC, with around 620 polygons, varying in size.

I have another boundary shapefile, BC service areas, this one has much larger polygons and only 28 of them across BC, which do not align with any of the boundaries of the census tract polygons.

I have a population data per census tract ID .DBase file (relating to the census tract polygons), and I have joined this to the census tract boundary file to get the population data per census tract on the map.

However, the end result is that I want to get the census data summarized PER SERVICE AREA. i.e., sum the census tracts within each of the 28 service areas to get the total population of all 28 areas.

I have tried the Summarize Within Tool, this keeps failing, I presume due to boundary overlap errors...

I have thought of converting the census tracts to points or a raster then summarizing that, but I don't think that will work due to duplicating the population data.

Is there a tool that aligns the Service Area Boundary layer to the census tract boundaries? Or an overall process to get the census data summarized per service area?

  • 1
    While you could look at the % of overlap and adjust the population count by this %, you will likely have better result using census data at a lower level such as the Dissemination Area
    – JGH
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 18:10
  • @JGH Thanks, this actually worked.
    – hhart4
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


Using the census data at a lower level, i.e. Dissemenation Area as JGH suggested, worked as there must have been lots less overlap and the data still had the ID's necessary to join.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.