May 3, 2017 8:45 am
Updated: May 3, 2017 1:31 pm

Census 2016: High rise apartments booming in Vancouver, Toronto

WATCH: Everything you need to know about the 2016 census.


Although most Canadians live in detached houses, that’s not the case in Canada’s biggest cities.

The share of detached houses has declined in 28 of Canada’s 33 metropolitan areas, in some cases quite dramatically.

Fewer than half of dwellings in Vancouver, Montreal, Victoria, Toronto and Quebec City are detached homes. In those cities, low- and high-rise apartments or condos, row houses and apartments in duplexes make up the majority of living spaces.

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And their share is growing. In Vancouver, detached homes as a percentage of all dwellings declined by 13 per cent between 2011 and 2016. Unsurprisingly for anyone who has visited the city lately, high-rise buildings more than made up the gap. The share of apartments in buildings of five or more floors grew by 15.2 per cent, likely reflecting new condo construction.


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“That’s a really big change, to affect the share of all the dwellings in the stock, there has to have been a lot of construction and a change in dwelling patterns,” said Eric Olson, chief of census, income and housing at Statistics Canada.

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The Toronto metropolitan area is still Canada’s high-rise capital though. Nearly one in three homes in Toronto is in a building of five or more storeys.

The number of high-rise units grew from 27.4 per cent of all dwellings to 29.4 per cent between 2011 and 2016. There are more high-rise apartments in the Toronto metropolitan area alone than there are dwellings of all types in Edmonton or Calgary. It’s like “Edmonton suspended in the air,” said Olson.

In Toronto, 43.6 per cent of homes of all types are an apartment of some kind, though that number grows to around 66 per cent when you look at the City of Toronto proper, he said.


Single-family homes

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Edmonton and Calgary, which are among the fastest-growing municipalities in Canada, heavily favour detached houses. In Edmonton, these account for 57.3 per cent of homes. In Calgary, they are 58.3 per cent.

Outside of the cities though, the single-family home reigns supreme. A total of 53.6 per cent of all dwellings in Canada are single detached homes. Outside metropolitan areas, 72.7 per cent of dwellings are detached houses.

In Wednesday’s census release, Statistics Canada does not distinguish between apartment units and condo units, classifying buildings only by number of dwelling units and floors. Similarly, the agency doesn’t count whether someone rents their home or apartment or is the owner.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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