Census 2016: Canadians embrace downtown living

High-rise condo towers are seen under construction, Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadians are flocking to the centres of the country’s largest cities, census data released today shows.

The pattern is clearest in Toronto and Vancouver, but also in Calgary, where most neighbourhoods in the central city gained residents over the last five years.

READ: Liberal bill leaves census vulnerable to political meddling: Former StatsCan head

In Toronto, an area bounded roughly by Queen Street, the Don River, the lake shore and Dufferin Street added 35,000 people in five years (the population of Sydney, N.S.), bringing the population of that area up to 114,000, equal to the population of Guelph, Ont.

The area, which has seen intense high-rise development in recent years, now has a density of over 12,000 people per square kilometre. That’s similar to Cairo, Egypt or Lagos, Nigeria.

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Toronto »


Vancouver, where real estate values have skyrocketed in recent years, has seen a similar pattern on a smaller scale. The city’s downtown has added about 10,000 people since 2011, bringing the centre’s population to over 109,000.

Development near the UBC endowment lands doubled population in that neighbourhood in five years, from 2,500 to about 5,000.

READ: Some Canadians didn’t fill out the census, could face fines or jail

Vancouver »


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Seven out of eight of Canada’s most densely populated neighbourhoods were in Toronto. The densest was in the St. Jamestown high-rise neighbourhood in the east downtown.

Urban living: Canada’s 10 densest neighbourhoods

Census tractWhere’s that?People per square km
15350065.02Toronto: East downtown, St. Jamestown     82,434
25350063.03Toronto: East downtown, Bloor/Church     54,647
35350062.01Toronto: East downtown, Bay/Charles     52,388
45350307.06Toronto: Yonge and Sheppard     52,054
54620065.01Montreal: Sherbrooke/rue Guy     50,278
65350128.06Toronto: Yonge and Eglinton     48,882
75350307.04Toronto: Yonge and Sheppard     45,980
85350307.03Toronto: Yonge and Sheppard     45,726
94620385Montreal: Queen Mary/Macdonald     40,890
109330016.06Vancouver: Vancouver: Boundary Rd/Skytrain     39,491


WATCH: The Trudeau government has undone another Harper government policy, bringing back the mandatory long-form census. The Tory decision to axe the long-form census and make it voluntary meant big gaps in information. Eric Sorensen reports at what was lost and what can be regained.

Click to play video 'Long-form census makes its comeback' Long-form census makes its comeback
Long-form census makes its comeback – May 2, 2016