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Population Growth in the 905 Portion of the Toronto Economic Region Continues to Outshine the City of Toronto in 2011-20161

By: Frank Clayton
Senior Research Fellow, CUR

March 3, 2017

The Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), the economic region centred on the city of Toronto (Toronto), as delineated by Statistics Canada based upon commuting patterns, recorded average annual population growth of 68,995 persons between mid-2011 and mid-2016. This is slower growth than that in the previous decade. Despite the renaissance of population growth in its central area resulting from the condo apartment construction boom, Toronto’s average annual growth of 23,302 persons accounted for just one-third of the CMA’s population growth. The 905 areas (the Toronto CMA beyond the city of Toronto) had average annual growth of 45,693 persons between 2011 and 2016.

Toronto’s share of the CMA’s total population declined to 46 percent in 2016 from 53 percent as recently as 2001. Its population of 2,732,000 persons now is almost half a million fewer than the population of the 905 area (3,196,000).

Toronto’s share of the CMA’s total dwelling unit growth between mid-2011 and mid-2016 was larger than its population share – 46 percent versus 34 percent. The difference is explained by the smaller household sizes in Toronto compared to the 905 areas (see below).

Households in Toronto in 2016 were over 20 percent smaller on average than households in the 905 areas – 2.45 persons compared to 3.12 persons. In both areas, average household size declined through the 2001-2016 period. Variations in the type of new housing built reflect this disparity in household sizes – mainly smaller-sized units in apartment towers in Toronto and larger ground-related homes (singles, semis and townhouses) in the 905 areas.

1 All the numbers here are actual counts from the Census of Canada unadjusted for population undercount.