comment 1

The densest downtowns in Canada

A few days ago I tweeted this chart out (from Statistics Canada):

It is a list of the densest downtowns in Canada (people per square kilometer). But to be more precise, it is a list of the densest primary downtowns for each census metropolitan area.

In the case of Toronto, for instance, it considers downtown Toronto, but it does not consider downtown Mississauga, downtown Brampton, or any other “downtowns” across the CMA. And in the case of Vancouver, it ignores important centers such as Burnaby.

Many were quick to point this out on Twitter and it is a fair comment. Our cities are often more polycentric than a chart like this might make it seem.

The other thing to consider is that these density numbers are dependent on what you assume as the boundary for each downtown. For downtown Vancouver it’s a fair bit easier because it is a peninsula surrounded by water.

But for downtown Toronto, it’s more nebulous. Where do you draw the line? In this case, Statistics Canada is using the same downtown boundary as what’s in our Official Plan, but that happens to include the lower-density University of Toronto lands. So are we comparing apples to apples?

I don’t know. But go Hamilton!

1 Comment so far

  1. Bob K

    I have always thought it hard, or maybe impossible, to meaningfully measure density in a city. The downtown for Vancouver, for instance, omits Stanley Park, which probably makes sense as it would significantly lower the density of the city. I moved to Moncton a year ago, and we are third from the bottom in terms of density. The “downtown” map of Moncton, though, has an inexplicable huge “tail” on it that is all parkland, near to the river, extending very far to the west away from the downtown, so the extremely low density noted for the city is due to this frankly weird definition of the city centre. I think it is worth the effort to try and measure downtown density, but very hard to do meaningfully.

    Liked by 1 person

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