Behind Sparsh Supermarket”

In Anatomy of an Indian AddressGowri N Kishore takes a deep dive into how civic addressing works in India:

India has no standardised way of describing addresses as Western countries do. And a one-size-fits-all approach may not even work here because different states have their own terms like street, main/cross, colony, and more. Each address is its own little adventure. Phew!

One of the under-appreciated public works megaprojects here on Prince Edward Island is the civic addressing system: introduced in the early 2000s, the system was designed to enable the introduction of 911 emergency service in a province that, outside of larger cities and towns, had no standardized address system. From the original Civic Address Standards and Guidelines:

The civic address standards outlined ensure that all residences on Prince Edward Island are universally and uniquely civic addressed. The civic address guidelines present recommended rules to follow when providing new civic addresses. The document also describes situations where undesirable (unacceptable) civic addressing may exist and recommends possible remedies.

The present status of civic addressing within Prince Edward Island can be summarized as follows:

  • Both Charlottetown and Summerside are essentially complete;
  • Five of seven towns are essentially complete;
  • Three of fifteen communities with official plans are essentially complete;
  • All other areas within PEI are minimally or non civic addressed.

I was under contract to the Province of PEI throughout this process, and was privileged to witness, up close, what a Herculean task it was to find a unique civic address for every property on the Island: not only did addresses themselves need to be assigned, but road names needed to be established (and made unique within a county), and, in many cases, new “civic address communities” established, as much of the province isn’t covered by formal municipalities.

The civic address system was one of the signature achievements of former Provincial Tax Commissioner Jim Ramsay: while the process involved many people across departments and agencies, inside government and out, it was Jim who was the driving force. And that the data underlying the system — a geolocated civic address database — was made freely available to the public is a testament to Jim’s ability to see the tremendous upsides of such a move (I was in the room when the decision to do this was made, and the page offering the data was online the same day — there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to see such a resource be made public, and wan’t to ensure the horses were out of the barn before any layer of the bureaucracy changed its mind).


Jarek's picture
Jarek on August 8, 2023 - 12:14 Permalink

I'm curious about your experience working with establishing civic addresses. How did postal delivery work in PEI at the time? Did the civic address set end up being different from the postal addresses, and how?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 9, 2023 - 08:09 Permalink

Rural postal delivery was not to a specific civic address, but rather to a “rural route.” For example, when I lived outside of Charlottetown in the unincorporated village of Kingston, my postal address was “Peter Rukavina, R.R. #3, Cornwall,” Cornwall being the nearest post office. I know that Canada Post began a migration to use civic addressing for postal delivery once the framework was in place; I’m not sure whether this migration has been completed yet.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on August 9, 2023 - 14:23 Permalink

I can confirm that Canada Post will most likely return to sender any mail addressed to a rural route address on PEI. It has been an ongoing issue since I started my job in 2015, but they've essentially cut off delivering rural route-addressed mail within the last year or two.

Folks up west seem to hate civic addresses. I guess they don't appreciate how challenging it is for Canada Post to deliver mail addressed to Joe Gaudet, RR Ellerslie.