Talk:Canadian tagging guidelines

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Discuss Canadian tagging guidelines:

Proposed new guidelines

Suggested by Dshpak based on conversations with srw, jrreid, and Burgundavia on #osm.


All highways get a ref tag giving their highway number. Highways can also have a surface tag, with values paved and unpaved.

  • Unclassified: Rural roads that are not provincial or national highways.
  • Secondary, tertiary: Major urban roads that are not part of the highway system
  • Residential: Residential roads
  • Unclassified: All other named urban roads
  • Service: Back lanes, alleys.
  • Track: Small roads in parks, dirt trails in fields, etc. Speed limits are probably 30 km/h or less; roads may be maintained privately.

All urban streets get a name tag. This includes numbered streets (name=11th Street North).

  • Motorway is defined as restricted access by OSM. That's what it's for.
  • Likewise residential -- this one's obvious.
  • I feel that the national highway system deserves special treatment, as the core cross-Canada road network.
  • Within each province, there is a definite need for at least two classes of provincial highway. These cannot be defined at a national level, since highway systems vary from province to province.
  • Two classes are also needed for major urban roads, as each city tends to have major arteries that stand apart from the other major roads.
  • The two different definitions of secondary and tertiary (provincial highway vs. major urban road) can be distinguished by the presence of a ref tag.

User:Dshpak - 05:17, 4 June 2007

Speed Limits

Can we classify streets based on their speed limits? 80km/h = secondary, 50km/h = tertiary, etc.. User:Bcrosby - 16:34, 28 February 2008

Dual numbers

How should highways with multiple numbers be tagged? An example: Quebec hwy 40/73 near Quebec City. Autoroute Laurentienne (hwy 73 north of Quebec City) is also classified as number 175, where it is still a motorway, but 175 (and any other number in the 100 range) is normally not used for highways.

-- User:Fsteggink - 02:42, 14 May 2008

Can someone translate into rural terms?

I'm a first-time contributor doing some tracing in Renfrew County. Can anyone tell me which classification to use for county and township roads? Is the right place to ask? Thanks. Padraic 18:03, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

User:Padraic 18:03, 13 July 2008

Mapping of Prov/Nat Parks, Warden stations, etc.?

As I have just returned from a 4 week long holiday-trip to Canada and mapped most of my moves with GPS, I would like to put this now on OSM. Are there any suggestions on how to map national and provincional parks? Would suggest 'leisure:park' besides an name tag (e.g. 'Banff National Park'). In addition, I would as well like to document campgrounds and picnic/rest areas, which are pretty obvious (tourism:camp_site/caravan_site/picnic_site) but how about Warden stations: would you use tourism:information although this is not exactly correct? --Danboss 13:21, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Bus Stop Tagging

Is it possible to start up a discussion about tagging standards for municipal bus stops? Canada:Manitoba:Winnipeg has started a discussion, but I'd like to see something standardized across the country.

User:Acinom 21:57, 7 June 2009

...... (this is the stuff from the old page & should be condensed and added into the main page) --acrosscanadatrails 00:57, 26 March 2010 (UTC) For specific provincial tagging, see the list on the Canadian tagging guidelines page.

User:Acrosscanadatrails is adjusting this chart to become Canadian Specific, because it merges with Canadian Highway tags. He will add it in. (will need to notify the creator of the previous page to help edit, so for now it stays on this page)

Highway Tagging In Canada

The highway tag is the primary tag used for highways. It is often the only tag. There are conventions for its use in particular countries. See Highway tag usage and Roads pages for guidance.

Key Value Element Comment Rendering Photo
highway motorway Mf way.png A restricted access major divided highway, normally with 2 or more running lanes plus emergency hard shoulder.
  • Canadian 401, QEW... etc..
  • Bicycles are not allowed on these
  • Physically identifiable by most junctions being grade-separated interchanges and the remaining few at-grade intersections without median crossings.
  • Fortunately (for recreation), most motorways have service roads by (sometimes even called North Service road & South Service road)
Rendering-highway motorway neutral.png Motorway-photo.jpg
highway motorway_link Mf way.png The link roads (sliproads / ramps) leading to and from a motorway. Normally with the same motorway restrictions. .. Rendering-highway motorway link.png
Dscf0242 600.jpg
highway trunk Mf way.png Important roads that aren't motorways. Typically maintained by central, not local government. Need not necessarily be a divided highway.
  • Sections of The Trans Canada Highway are like this.
  • Sometimes a concrete median is placed to make sure people don't go on the other side of the road.
  • FIXME: In rural areas, these roads maybe used as emergency airplane landing pads, as there is a wide space between powerlines on either side.
  • In some provinces, all National Highway System roads are tagged like this.
Rendering-highway trunk neutral.png Dscf0444 600.jpg
highway trunk_link Mf way.png The link roads (sliproads / ramps) leading to and from a trunk road. .. FIXME
highway primary Mf way.png All primary provincial highways, former Trans-Canada routes, and other major long-distance roads Rendering-highway primary neutral.png
highway primary_link Mf way.png The link roads (sliproads / ramps) leading to and from a primary road. Rendering-highway trunk link.png
highway secondary Mf way.png In rural areas, these are roads of importance that are built to lower standards than primary roads. In urban areas, most main grid roads are tagged like this. Rendering-highway secondary neutral.png Highway secondary-photo.jpg
highway tertiary Mf way.png In rural areas:
  • Can be either municipally or provincially maintained.
  • Does not have to be paved.
  • Usually leads to remote but significant places.

In urban areas:

  • Grid roads that do not connect well with the rest of the road network, or have a mildly traffic-calming design
  • Usually 3 or more lanes
  • Often the main entrances to subdivisions
Rendering-highway tertiary neutral.png Highway tertiary-photo.jpg
highway unclassified Mf way.png No administrative classification. Unclassified roads typically form the lowest form of the interconnecting grid network.
Note: This is not a marker for roads where we still need to choose a highway tag (see highway=road).
Rendering-highway unclassified.png Highway unclassified-photo.jpg
highway road Mf way.png A road of unknown classification. This is intended as a temporary tag to mark a road until it has been properly surveyed. Once it has been surveyed, the classification should be updated to the appropriate value.
highway residential Mf way.png roads accessing or around residential areas but which are not a classified or unclassified highway. Rendering-highway residential.png Residential.jpg
highway living_street Mf way.png a street where pedestrians have priority over cars, children can play on the street, maximum speed is low. In the UK this is called "Home Zone". Living street osm.png Spielstrasse.jpg
highway service Mf way.png generally for access to a building, motorway service station, beach, campsite, industrial estate, business park, etc. This is also commonly used for access to parking and trash collection. Sometimes called an alley, particularly in the US. Rendering-highway service.png
highway track way roads for agricultural use, gravel roads in the forest etc.; usually unpaved/unsealed but may occasionally apply to paved tracks as well, see discussion of "tracktype" below.
  • excellent for a mountain bike
  • excellent for a Quad (ATV), as they can maintain the spacing
  • Keep to the right track when cycling
Rendering-highway track.png Frühlingslandschft Aaretal Schweiz.jpg
highway pedestrian wayarea For Roads , i.e. mainly/exclusively for pedestrians /Shopping Areas. Also for tagging squares and plazas, therefore add area=yes. Pedestrian with area osm.png Calle arenal.jpg
highway services Mf node.png A service station to get food and eat something, often found at motorways.
  • Especially along the Trans Canada Highway, it is important to notes these because of the great distances for all road users
  • Otherwise known as a rest stop to fill up for both types of fuel
highway bus_guideway Mf way.png A busway that is side guided "rails like", not suitable for other traffic. Please note: This is not a normal bus lane, use access=no, psv=yes instead!
highway path way A non-specific or shared-use path.
highway cycleway Mf way.png Shortcut for highway=path bicycle=designated -> For designated cycleways, i.e. mainly/exclusively for bicycles. If pedestrians are allowed as well, you can indicate this by adding a foot=yes or foot=designated tag as appropriate. Cycleway osm.png Cycleway-markings.jpg
highway footway Mf way.png Shortcut for highway=path foot=designated -> For designated footpaths, i.e. mainly/exclusively for pedestrians. This includes walking tracks and gravel paths. If bicycles are allowed as well, you can indicate this by adding a bicycle=yes tag.
  • A lot of the Trans Canada Trail is like this, as formerly being a rail-trail
  • Used by Hybrid Bikes, and mountain bikes
  • surface is NOT paved, if no bicycle tag is present, it is assumed that bicycles are not permitted
Rendering-highway footway.png Dscf0487 600.jpg
highway bridleway way Shortcut for highway=path horse=designated -> For horses, (in the UK, these are rights of way for pedestrians, horse-riders and cyclists).
  • Fixme: --acrosscanadatrails 02:23, 17 July 2008 (UTC) Need check if this confuses the rendering process
  • A simple rule would be, if there is a sign on the trail and/or at the trail head that indicates this, it should be added
Rendering-highway bridleway.png
highway byway way An unmade path/track which usually allows vehicles as well as foot, horse and cycle traffic (in the UK, there are byways which allow motor vehicles, and restricted byways which allow non-mechanically propelled vehicles)
  • The original roads were made this way, overtime as more development happens it becomes an actual road.
  • Usually these byways are on the land farmers fields (which are private property)
  • Unless the path is marked as a community recreational trail, or permission is granted by property owner. Public use is not permitted.
  • Note: In rural areas, asking at the nearby rest area would help as well as speaking with the local city hall would also help. (To get signs posted)
highway steps Mf way.png For flights of steps on footways.
  • If the break is more than twice as long as the stairs with other amenities it should be split up.
Rendering-highway steps.png Steps.jpg
Intersection features
highway mini_roundabout Mf node.png Very small roundabouts only, larger ones should be junction=roundabout. In the UK, mini-roundabouts have a circular sign with a blue background, instead of the usual triangular sign

Rendered as anti-clockwise by default. To render clockwise add the tag direction=clockwise.

  • These are very few and far between in Canada (most are larger and should be tagged with junction=roundabout)
  • Would be counter-clockwise
highway stop Mf node.png A stop sign Stop.png
highway traffic_signals Mf node.png Lights that control the traffic Rendering-traffic singals.jpg Icon-highway traffic signals.png
highway crossing Mf node.png Pedestrians can cross a street here - e.g. zebra crossing.
  • A cross walk
  • cyclists must get off the bike and walk??
Zebra-crossing sm.jpg
highway gate Mf node.png * Remember to close the gate. A courtesy, and a recomendation by the land owner and the local trails association.
  • This keeps the Animals in and out
  • Note: Please contact the local trails association when and if you find a dammaged gate. (They will not know until its to late. (Cattle is lost)
    • If that is not known, tell the next store/lodging/campground owner and perhaps they know who to call
    • Attempt to temporary fix yourself with rope or rocks or something to keep it closed
highway stile Mf node.png Allow pedestrians to cross a wall or fence.
  • Similar in style is a gate which has this, usually it is large enough for a bicycle. It has the same function, to prevent cattle from escaping, but doesn't need to be closed afterwards.
  • Also found on the Trans Canada Trail
highway cattle_grid Mf node.png Bars in the road surface that allow wheeled vehicles but not animals to cross. Sometimes known as a Texas Gate, even outside of Texas.
  • Known as cattle cards. Note: These do not stop Bulls
  • This is common on the Trans Canada Trail in farm country
  • To save your tires, it is recommended to walk the bike
Cattle grid.jpg
highway toll_booth Mf node.png A road usage toll or fee is collected here Toll booth.jpg
Other features
highway incline Mf node.png slope or hill, may encounter slow moving trucks. Corresponding proposal Proposed_features/Incline was rejected!
highway incline_steep Mf node.png Just as incline, only steeper. Corresponding proposal Proposed_features/Incline was rejected!
highway ford Mf node.png The road crosses a stream or river, vehicles must enter the water node.
  • Excellent quality surface for a dirt bike
  • Excellent quality surface for a 4x4 truck
  • Reminder to clean the (hybrid expedition touring bicycle) if you went through these, slowly to avoid back splash.
    • Front and rear splash guards are recommended
Map feature ford.jpg
highway bus_stop Mf node.png A small bus stop. Larger stations should be tagged as amenity=bus_station instead. Bus.gif Bus prumyslova.jpg
highwayTODO: check turning_circle Mf node.png A Turning circle is a rounded, widened area usually, but not necessarily, at the end of a road to facilitate easier turning of a vehicle.
  • A dead-end of a residential road
  • Also good to have so then the mapper knows that the road actually ends
  • Good for farm roads
highway construction Mf way.png {Template:Construction:desc }}} Highway construction 200805041655.png 12Jan05 04.jpg
construction User Defined Mf way.png Any linear highway object may be added, e.g. construction=motorway. Use with highway=construction
highway User Defined Mf node.png Mf way.png
junction roundabout Mf way.png This automatically implies oneway=yes, the oneway direction is defined by the sequential ordering of nodes within the Way. This applies on a way, tagged with highway=* already. Mapping-Features-Roundabout-Simple.png
junction User Defined Mf way.png
highway motorway_junction Mf node.png Indicates a numbered exit from the mainline. Can also be used on non-freeway roads.
Dscf0242 600.jpg
Traffic calming
traffic_calming yes Mf node.png Mf way.png To tag road features that are designed to slow down traffic in residential areas.
traffic_calming User Defined Mf node.png Mf way.png See Tagwatch or Key:traffic_calming for more used values.

This table is a wiki template with a default description in English. Editable here.

City subdivisions

How to subdivide cities?

A couple of us have started mapping boundaries for neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is subdivided by several schemes:

  • Winnipeg City > Community committees > Wards > Neighbourhoods
  • Winnipeg City > Community areas > Neighbourhood clusters > Neighbourhoods
  • Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) > Winnipeg Census Division no. 11 (Winnipeg CA) > Census tracts > Census dissemination areas
  • Provincial electoral divisions > polls
  • Federal electoral districts > polls

There are also school divisions, community centre catchments, and probably more.

Winnipeg also has some unique designated areas, which may or may not share boundaries with the neighbourhood system: Downtown (per Downtown Zoning By-Law 100/2004), the Inner City (defined by the Core Area Initiative), the Exchange District (a National Historic Site of Canada),

There are also traditional and commonly-used names, which don't correspond to any current political or administrative boundaries. These include Osborne Village (not the same as the Osborne neighbourhood), Norwood Flats (officially Norwood West neighbourhood), West Kildonan (a former city, whose name appears in the larger Lord Selkirk–West Kildonan community committee and the smaller West Kildonan Industrial neighbourhood) etc.

In Winnipeg's case, the wards, being represented by city councillors, are the most important local political subdivision. But the scheme of community areas and neighbourhoods is probably the most useful for navigation, because it includes most commonly-used names of suburbs and neighbourhoods.

Which of these should be mapped? Should we stick to admin_level 9 and 10, or also use 11 to capture all of the levels? Should we map the overlapping schemes, or just choose one? Should every neighbourhood be mapped, or be selected (many of Winnipeg's industrial neighbourhoods are named for convenience, but the names are seldom used)?

What schemes are already mapped in other cities? Michael Z. 2011-02-28 18:22 z 18:22, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Please consider reading and contributing to the Neighborhood article and associated talk page. Most likely we should create a new value for the place=* key. -- Joshdoe 12:54, 18 April 2011 (BST)
Thanks, will do. Michael Z. 2011-04-20 17:51 z
I have written up what is being put into practice for Winnipeg at Canada:Manitoba:Winnipeg#Wards_and_neighbourhoods. Please have a look, comment and correct. Michael Z. 2011-09-29 03:33 z

Tagging houses with the same housenumber, but different "units"

It seems that many contributors are struggling with tagging areas where buildings share the same house number (like 590 Battle Street), but with distinct units (52-590 Battle street, which means that this is at 590 Battle Street, unit 52).

I think it may be useful to remind it on the Canadian tagging guidelines: the best way to tag these addresses is by adding addr:unit=52. In fact, people tend to tag with the renderer in mind, but it's not what should be done. (discussion here:

Bicycle/pedestrian on motorway

I would like to add recommendation to explicitely tag access=* on highway=motorway which allow pedestrian/bicycles. highway=motorway implies access=no and not every candian highway=motorway is only motor_vehicle=yes.--Jojo4u (talk) 19:52, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Saints in street names in Ontario


I have started a discussion about "St." in street names like "St. Clair Avenue". I am suggesting that contrary to current practice in Toronto (at least), it should not be expanded to "Saint Clair" if city documents and other official sources do not expand it. Please see for the message including some reasoning and examples, and follow links in for follow-ups. Please feel free to respond on the mailing list or here, I can forward your comments here to mailing list if you wish.

Thanks, Jarek Piórkowski (talk) 17:29, 15 March 2019 (UTC)