Growth and Change in Toronto's Neighbourhoods: The challenges of planning for growth and density in the downtown and inner suburbs

This page now links to an updated report, with adjustments to the table legends. (February 15, 2017 at 2:30pm)


This report provides an overview of changes to the population and dwelling counts in Toronto, a review of the implications of those changes and recommendations on how to accommodate those changes. This report describes the changing landscape of Toronto as described by the census and the implications for our future priorities as a city. 


The landscape of Toronto is changing. Although Toronto’s population has not shifted dramatically, the city’s internal growth has certainly seen some fluctuation. 

The expansion of Toronto’s population continues to be characterized by a pattern of concentrated and vertical growth. 

That change is focused on specific areas:

Considerable amounts of growth in key areas including:

  • Downtown Core 
  • Bay Street Corridor
  • The East Mall/South Etobicoke
  • Willowdale and Bayview village
  • Humberlea
  • Agincourt

Toronto has also had its share of declines. Key locations in the city that are experiencing a declining population include:

  • Downsview 
  • West-Humber
  • Highland Creek
  • Agincourt

These changes put new stress on aspects of urban life in those communities, requiring greater attention to planning and social infrastructure. 

This report looks to address a few of these factors. Firstly, the exceptional increase in housing supply has occurred in a way that has a limited net effect on affordability, reinforcing the need for a coherent housing affordability plan that relies on more than market forces to address local needs. Inclusionary zoning policies that ensure real contribution from development will likely be a key factor in achieving this goal. Secondly, growth has impacts on communities that require engaged, community-informed strategies that address issues like gentrification and service planning. Thirdly, rapid growth near high-level transit nodes reflect planning on intensification in relation to transit capacity, but other areas of growth show that transit planning is not systematically addressing growing needs. Fourthly, the pace of growth has not been met by a simultaneous increase in community services, greenspace or community space, raising concerns about “social planning” in the context of the City’s planning model. Communities in virtually all growth areas, both in the Core and in the inner suburbs, have reason to be concerned about the impact growth will have unless there is real investment in community amenities and community services. Lastly, traditional ‘downtown’ issues focused on growing service capacity to keep pace with growth are increasingly now inner-suburban issues as Etobicoke and North York become key sites of growth.

 Read the full report

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