Thursday, October 24, 2013

Toronto's Wards By Population Density

These are Toronto's current 44 wards listed in order of decreasing population density, expressed in number of people per square kilometre.  The colours indicate which pre-amalgamation city a given ward is grouped under.  Some wards cross these previous borders, such as ward 26, which covers both North York and East York.  Still, it gives you a pretty good picture of Toronto's population density:
  • The top 5 wards are in the pre-amalgamation version of Toronto ("Old Toronto")
  • All 10 Old Toronto wards are in the top 12 for density
  • The lowest density ward (#2) is also the ward that Rob Ford represented before becoming mayor, and currently represented by his brother Doug.
  • Noted Ford foe Adam Vaughan represents the highest density Ward, #20 with more than 10,000 people per square KM - that these two are such foes does not feel like a coincidence
  • While Etobicoke's 6 wards are all well toward the low end of the scale, North York's wards cover a pretty big spread, and to a lesser extent, so do Scarborough's.  This speaks to the idea that the suburbs are not a monolith irrevocably doomed to vote for Ford and "anti-downtown" divisive politicians like him in perpetuity.
For reference, here's the current densities of the former cities as well as the entire merged City of Toronto:

 With an average density of just over 4000, this gives us just 18 wards below the "average" for entire city, and 26 at or above it.  

The relevance of all this can play into many of our city's raging debates and challenges from subways to bike lanes to social service placement.  I don't believe that demographics are destiny but that we have a Mayor who cut his teeth representing a ward that would be low density even for Mississauga, his obvious and manifest refusal to even try and understand the challenges of dense urban life are among the many reasons we need a new mayor next year.  It's certainly possible that a mayor from a lower density area of the city could do a fair job for the urban core areas, but Rob Ford isn't that person.  His entire agenda largely amounts to an effort to apply surburban governance as a one-size-fits-all solution for the whole city.  His unrealism about the realities of funding the most expensive transit technology in low density areas is just par for the course.  Ditto his expectation that we can dig our way out of gridlock without ever losing a lane of traffic on any road or inconveniencing drivers in any way.  No doubt many voters think this way too, but for those of us who think our elected representatives have an obligation to tell us truths we may not want to hear, this fact is not persuasive that Ford's pandering should be the end of the discussion.

Edit (27 Oct): This post should include the Toronto ward map, so here it is:

1 comment:

  1. Your chart is wrong as you have Ward 30 listed as a North York ward. Greektown and Riverdale aren't any where near North York.