Getting a File Based Geodatabase from DataBC into QGIS

File Based GeoDatabase

A File Based GeoDataBase is a format from ESRI engineered to hold a variety of data with in a folder on a computer. This is a proprietary format, but ESRI has published the structure of the data enabling other software to utilize the format.

Scott had downloaded a File Based GeoDatabase (GDB) from DataBC using the following methods:

Download from DataBC

  • Search out Digital Road Atlas from the DataBC catalogue
  • The dataset is too large to download
    (although there is a provincial layer that can be downloaded directly from the site:
  • Create and Area Of Interest (AOI) in the interface
  • Follow the wizard using the mapping interface to get an order page
  • Submit the order and wait for an email for download

Bring the data into QGIS or ArcPro

Once the zip file from DataBC is unzipped, it is a good idea to look at the data that was decompressed. In this case you can see the unzipped data at:

You will see there are several metadata files, and the data itself is stored as a bunch of files in the DRA_DGTL_ROAD_ATLAS_MPAR_SP.gdb folder. The folder itself is the data location to be brought into QGIS. You can drag the folder in and follow the questions QGIS asks, navigate to the data using the QGIS browser – or load it as a layers from the layer menu (but select a directory instead of a file). Check out the image below

Loading into ArcPro is much the same using a folder connection.

Network Analysis

Creating a smaller road dataset

The data set from the province is very large – even with the smaller set Scott has downloaded. You can reduce the dataset, but for today perhaps we will just use a prepared dataset.

There is a smaller geopackage we can work with for testing our hands and network analysis that was created in the following manner:

  • Open the GDB into Q or ArcPro
  • Query the dataset to get values for “ROAD_CLASS” of “highway” or “arterial
  • Save this out as a smaller transportation layer

Pre-made highway dataset

Load the geopackage:

Loading some point data

A point layer was downloaded from:

It has been downloaded in three formats – Shapfile, KMZ and CSV. Use the csv file to create a point layer from a delimited file.

  • Add the csv into QGIS and a delimited layer
  • Query out the layer to get cities and towns of BC

Export data with proper projection

When the data is exported, use the BC Albers projection for the output:

Network analysis with our layers


If you are not happy with your towns layer, grab the one in the tutorial folder:

Running some analysis

With the highway layer we have we are going to use our points layer to calculate shortest distance from Prince George to other cities or towns.

In the processing toolbox, look for a set of tools under Network Analysis. In the set of tools, lets try

Shortest Path (point to point).

  • Network layer is the highway_arterial layers
  • Pick the points by hand for a start and end point

Shortest path (Layer to Point)

  • Network layers highway_arterial layers
  • Pick the Towns city layer as start points
  • Click on Prince George to get end point

You can also try the other shortest path tools to see what results you can create.

Service Area from point

  • Use the highway-arterial layer for the network
  • Shortest
  • Travel cost – set to 500 Kilometres
  • Pick PG as the starting point

Service Area from layer

  • Highway_arterial layers of course
  • Shortest
  • Travel cost 200 metres