The Neptis Foundation here in Toronto just recently published a fantastic report looking at the regional economic structure of the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. It’s called Planning for Prosperity.
In it they identity the polycentric nature of employment in the Toronto region by way of downtown Toronto and three suburban “megazones.” Here’s one of their maps showing overall employment density and the megazones (light blue circles):
Here’s a snippet to give you an idea of the scale of these megazones:
“The Airport megazone, one of the three employment megazones outside Downtown Toronto, is the second largest concentration of employment in Canada, after Downtown Toronto. It represents almost 300,000 jobs, more than the central business districts of Montreal, Vancouver, or Calgary individually.”
And here’s a chart showing the hard numbers:
Downtown Toronto dominates in terms of employment. But it’s also fascinating to see how much more efficiently it provides that employment. It has the smallest physical area of all the employment zones (2,540 hectares or 6,276 acres) and the lowest percentage of car trips (29%).
But the big takeaway from their report is that we have not been focused enough on employment in our planning. Instead, we seem to be thinking residentially. Here’s a final snippet:
“This study shows that the Growth Plan and The Big Move, which are currently under review, do not address the challenges and opportunities of a globalizing regional economy or the reality of a transforming economic landscape.
The Growth Plan’s focus has largely been on managing residential growth rather than non-residential and employment-related development. Indeed, the Growth Plan is based on shockingly little hard evidence on the evolving economy of the region. Plans for city-regions a fraction of the size of the GGH typically involve more economic research, analysis, and evidence.”
Clearly we need to be looking at both the residential and non-residential sides of the equation as we grow the region. To read the full report, click here.