Census data released days ago shows a sharp increase in population density in key areas of Toronto, with significant implications on the City and its residents. A new report from Social Planning Toronto says the city’s increasing density is putting the City’s planning and community services to the test. The report finds that areas of the city experiencing growth due to new developments often struggle with lack of transit, greenspaces and community services.
The census data shows that while the city has grown at a steady rate of 4.5%, key areas have experienced a disproportionate surge in growth through dense new developments.
“This report gives us new insights into how density is impacting our city in not only the downtown, but in areas of the city like Etobicoke and North York”, said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. “To keep up with this kind of growth, our city needs to invest in reliable transit and improve access to services and amenities like greenspace and recreation”.
Addressing affordability, Meagher emphasized the need to focus on community services and build ‘complete communities’, with services that improve quality of life for low-income residents: “Building new units alone will not fix our growing affordability issues. Childcare, libraries, access to transit and recreation are essential for making Toronto a more affordable place to live”.
The report also points to opportunities for the City to make headway on affordable housing. “The City can move on common sense ideas like making developers build affordable housing with their new developments. We need an Inclusionary Zoning by-law as soon as possible to make this a reality”.
The report’s release comes just days before City Council debates its 2017 budget. “Our City will make some critical choices about how we deal with issues that relate directly to this intensified growth”, said Meagher. “We need to match the unprecedented growth in neighbourhoods with increased community services and greater investments in transit and housing”.