I census that something is amiss

I census that something is amiss

If you’re a numbers geek like me, you won’t want to miss out on the census figures released this morning. I always like to go straight to the source and play around with the numbers (actually, the real source is here), but you can also get summaries here, and here, and wherever else Google will send you.

The rough-and-ready analysis shows that Toronto’s growth is not keeping pace with other major cities in the country, notably Calgary and Edmonton, which are booming. Meanwhile, six cities passed the 100,000 mark, four of which form a ring around the outer limits of the Golden Horseshoe: Peterborough, Barrie, Guelph and Brantford. Milton, Vaughan and Whitby are also growing fast.

These numbers will surely prompt many pundits to rail against sprawl, but I don’t think sprawl tells the entire story here. I haven’t had the time to go fishing in search of supporting evidence for my hunch, but here it is anyway. This isn’t just about people, it’s about the relative strength of regional economies. People don’t settle in Toronto just because the people are nice and we’re all about diversity. They settle here because there’s money to be made and a better life to be forged.

So it’s a no-brainer that more people are settling in Alberta, where the economy is just plain bonkers. What’s more curious is this growth outward from Toronto. It might mean that our metropolis’ hinterland just keeps expanding. Or it might mean that our metropolis is losing its grip and bleeding out into the surrounding region, which is forming its own interconnected economy whose links to the downtown are growing ever weaker. This is essentially the thesis the Board of Trade has held for some time now.

It’s also why the city has embarked on its intensification adventure. And it’s why David Miller has introduced tax reforms that will, over the course of the next few years, level the playing field with the 905 region. And there are some positive signs already: after years of stagnation, the Toronto office market is starting to heat up again. Alas, we might not know the results of all these measures until the next census five years hence.