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Canada, A Country Of Cities

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 28 March 2000 00:00

Canada's population is becoming increasingly urban and that trend shows every sign of accelerating in coming decades. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa-Hull, Winnipeg and Edmonton currently account for 45 per cent of Canada's population, but over the next decade these seven cities will experience 75 per cent of Canada's population growth, according to Tomorrow's Markets Today 2000, a report containing twenty-year economic and demographic projections for Canada's 34 metropolitan centres.

Jobs will continue to be the magnet that attracts people to Canada's cities, according to Tom McCormack, president of Oakville-based Strategic Projections Inc. and author/publisher of this report.

"If we look at history, it is the places that create the most jobs that grow the most," said McCormack, who attributes much of Toronto's growth to an annual immigration of 200,000 and a job market that keeps them there.

If the demand for housing and development land continues or escalates in urban centres, real estate values should hold or continue to rise, according to local economic climates. Meanwhile, the migration into cities, may freeze some rural property values or cause others to decline.

The concentration of population may also lead to a concentration of services such as health care facilities and educational institutions in urban centres. This could leave those living in rural areas even more under-served than they are now.

This report also identifies two of the five fastest growing metropolitan areas in North America, both shared-border zones — the Golden Horseshoe-New York State area in the east and the Vancouver-Seattle corridor in the west.

The Golden Horseshoe, which includes Toronto, Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula, is home to 6.6 million people. Combine this population with 2.2 million in the adjoining area of New York state, and you have the fourth most populated urban area in North America, after New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. The Golden Horseshoe also grew at an annual rate of more than 104,000 people. This puts it ahead of leading growth cities in the US -- Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta.

The Seattle-Vancouver area, with a collective population of 5.7 million, grew at an average annual rate of almost 101,000 over the last decade to make it the fifth fastest growing area in North America.

If you already find your urban neighbourhood changing at a pace that makes you feel like a stranger, how do you think you'll react in a decade or two of continued growth? Homeowners and property owners will have to be increasingly vigilant to ensure that air quality, personal security and other quality-of-life factors are not eroded by population growth.

McCormack adds a further note of caution: "The ever-increasing concentration of Canada's population in its major metropolitan areas is rapidly shifting both the political and economic power bases of the country. And it's not at all clear anyone has really noticed."

For more on Tomorrow's Markets Today 2000 or to order a copy, visit

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