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Themes for the 2023 Map Calendar Contest

Eager to share your best maps with the rest of the GIS community? The 2023 Map Calendar Contest closes on Friday, July 22, so don’t wait—polish your best maps and send them to us for a chance to be featured in 2023’s print calendar. To help you decide which maps to send, we’ve compiled this list of our focus areas for 2023.

Map themes we love

Every year, as part of the Map Calendar Contest, we release a set of themes to inspire participants. This year, we’re also sharing a wish list of six particular themes: customers are welcome to submit maps that don’t fit into these areas, but we’re specifically looking for maps that do.

Health & health care

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, we saw many organizations and GIS professionals turn to mapping as a means of visualizing the spread of COVID-19. Now, we’re looking for maps that focus on health care specifically.

How is your organization using maps to organize the delivery of medical services to individuals or to your community? How are you planning, delivering or analyzing health care in your region using GIS? What does your mapping show about health care in Canada or any region or municipality within it? Help us answer these questions by sending us your best maps.

Environmental preservation

The environment has been at the heart of Esri Canada’s mission since our founding. It continues to underpin our commitment to sustainable prosperity. Every year, we look for maps that showcase and enable the preservation of environmentally sensitive areas and species.

How are you using maps to help with conservation and sustainability efforts? Which of your maps has contributed to the fight against climate change? Those are the maps we want to see.

A map by the Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Program called A Focus on Drumheller, Vegetation Inventory. A map of Drumheller is represented by green three-dimensional hexagonal columns of varying heights. The height of each column corresponds to the total number of trees and shrubs in that area.

The Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Program’s “A Focus on Drumheller, Vegetation Inventory” shows the concentration of over 5,000 shrubs and trees worth of urban forest in Drumheller, AB.


A map by fRI Research titled “Bear Management Area 4, Clearwater Field Map”. The map shows part of Banff National Park, AB, as well as the area to the northeast of the park, divided into a 7 km by 7 km grid. The map shows human-made features in this remote area as well as protected areas. Sensitive information (such as the final location of hair snag sites) has been removed from the map.

fRI Research’s “Bear Management Area 4, Clearwater Field Map” was used to help field crews set up and revisit hair snag sites for the 2018 Alberta grizzly bear population inventory.


Economic development

Commercial businesses of all kinds use maps and spatial analysis to find out where their target markets are, to monitor change over time and to make location-based decisions about their operations. We want to see more maps that open a window onto businesses’ prosperity.

This map by Environics Analytics, titled Site Suitability Analysis for Cannabis Retail Locations, uses bright colours ranging from red (representing high suitability) to blue (representing low suitability) to indicate which parts of the Toronto would be most suitable for a legal cannabis dispensary.

Environics Analytics’s “Site Suitability Analysis for Cannabis Retail Locations” is a heat map that identifies optimal locations for cannabis dispensaries in Toronto.


This anonymized map by Environics Analytics, titled Retail Location 767 – Target Group Distribution and made for a retailer, uses a range of colours (with red representing the families who spend the most at this retailer and blue representing the families who spend the least there) to divide Mississauga, ON and its surrounding area into areas where new retail locations might be built.

Environics Analytics’s “Retail Location 767 – Target Group Distribution” was developed for a retailer that wanted to find growth opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area without stealing business from its other locations.



Maps are used in education all the time, in all kinds of ways, not only to capture school locations and to map campuses, but also to share information with students or the public, or among academics. We would love to see more submissions that fit the education theme this year!

This map by Alberta Health Services, titled “Active Transportation and Air Pollution: Health Commute & Playground Use at Calgary Schools”, shows schools in the City of Calgary as they relate to air pollution and active transportation. Walkable areas are depicted in green; car-dependent areas are shown in yellow; bike paths are shown in bright pink; light rail transit is shown as a marked red line.

Alberta Health Services’ “Active Transportation and Air Pollution: Health Commute & Playground Use at Calgary Schools” investigates the location of schools in relation to air pollution and active transportation.


This map by Lost Art Cartography, titled The Ancestral Landscape of Sikniktuk, shows dykewalls and aboiteau farming in the Sikniktuk salt marsh area today as compared to historically. The map also depicts historical sites in the area.

Lost Art Cartography’s “The Ancestral Landscape of Sikniktuk” shows one of the largest saltmarshes on the Atlantic coast, where Mi’kmaq have lived for millennia. The map uses cartography to educate viewers on the history of this saltmarsh.


Public safety

Public safety agencies are always developing map products to help get services to people, when and where they are needed. Maps can help answer questions like: where are emergencies and crimes taking place? Where are existing safety resources in relation to them? Where are more resources needed?

Also falling within this theme is anything and everything pertaining to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1). If your municipality is using maps as part of adapting its operations to the new system, we’d love to see them.

This map by Upwest Geomatics, entitled “KDCFS Bjerkness/Kaslo/Shutty Landscape Level Wildfire Plan 2019”, shows the topography of the Kaslo/North Kootenay Lake area (specifically the slope and aspect of the surrounding hills) in relation to critical infrastructure and fire service areas in the region.

Upwest Geomatics’ “KDCFS Bjerkness/Kaslo/Shutty Landscape Level Wildfire Plan 2019” was developed in the wake of some of the largest and fiercest wildfires in recent British Columbia history. It supports fuel reduction projects as well as fire suppression strategies in the Kaslo/North Kootenay Lake area.


This map by Alberta Health Services, entitled “Community Crime Counts Mapping with Social Deprivation Index: City of Calgary, 2018”, combines 3D blocks, representing crime counts in the City of Calgary in 2018, with a 2D layer, representing the social deprivation indices for different parts of the city. The blocks are shown in a range of colours from red (lowest crime counts) to blue (highest crime counts). The 2D layer uses shades of green (light green means least socially deprived; dark green means most socially deprived).

Alberta Health Services’ “Community Crime Counts Mapping with Social Deprivation Index: City of Calgary, 2018” depicts crime counts in the City of Calgary for 2018. The map attempts to identify whether the City’s social deprivation index values correlate with its crime counts.


Community engagement

An engaging visual is worth a thousand words! Planners, municipal services and community members are using maps to bring people together around common issues, whether that means gathering feedback during public consultations or directing residents to local services.

This map by Québec’s Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, entitled “Public Consultation on the Operational Plan for Integrated Forest Management (PAFIO)”, shows areas of a specific region of Québec as they pertain to forest development and management.

The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs’ “Public Consultation on the Operational Plan for Integrated Forest Management (PAFIO)” was produced to enable the public to express its opinions on the development and management of forests in Québec.


This map, by the Town of Truro’s Planning & Development department, is entitled “Explore Central Map”. Using colourful icons, it shows where visitors or residents can find adventures, cultural sites, family activities, natural areas and regional food providers.

The Town of Truro—Planning & Development’s “Explore Central Map” was developed in response to COVID-19 to encourage people in Truro, NS to vacation at home.


Contest closes July 22

For more tips on how to make maps that shine, and to know what our judges look for in Map Calendar Contest submissions, read our past blog posts from 2021 and 2019.

The 2023 Map Calendar Contest closes on Friday, July 22, 2022 at 11:59 PM ET, so make sure to get your submissions in soon! See the contest details.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Dani Pacey is a Marketing Specialist for Esri Canada. She digitized her first map at the tender age of 10 and has been fascinated by the relationships between people and places ever since. An avid technical communicator with degrees in Science & Technology Studies from York University and History of Science & Technology from the University of King's College, Dani has always blended science, social science and the humanities and loves bringing them all together to tell great stories about human life.

Profile Photo of Dani Pacey