Who cares about 15 million urban voters?
April 14, 2011
TORONTO, ON — What do 15.3 million voters, $17.5 billion in personal income, $910 billion in GDP, and over 74% of all new jobs created in the past year have in common? Each of these figures refers to the influences of Canada’s metropolitan regions and collectively signify the crucial role that our urban regions play. A new report led by researchers at the University of Toronto shows that metropolitan areas are home to 68% of the nation’s population, 90% of our immigrants, and 96% of Canada’s visible minority population (and 67% of the eligible voters).
Just the core cities of Canada’s metropolitan areas account for over 40% of the population, GDP, income, and voters. While many live in suburbs and aren’t overly concerned with central cities, the suburbs do not exist in a vacuum. While they may be the donut to the central city’s “Timbit” – without a strong, vibrant, successful central city, the suburbs would find themselves severely challenged. Suburbs and central cities share jobs, people and common challenges. New immigrants are increasingly settling in suburban, rather than downtown, areas; millions of commuters cross city boundaries every day in Canada from coast to coast to coast; suburban and city governments face common challenges to maintain infrastructure and services.
It’s not just the sheer size of our metros and their surrounding burbs that make them so important. Metro areas are generating employment growth, GDP, and tax revenues beyond their share of the population. From December 2009 to December 2010 Statistics Canada tells us that 227,900 new jobs were created in Canada. That’s the “net” growth. Break those numbers down and you get a different story. Using some reasonable and conservative assumptions (detailed data is only provided for Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver), we actually found that nearly 260,000 new jobs were created in Canada’s metropolitan areas; almost 160,000 (62%) were located in a central city. The smaller, separate cities and rural areas of the country actually suffered a loss of nearly 32,000 jobs last year — something that any small town mayor or county administrator could tell you.
It is worth noting that there is a great deal of interdependence among large metropolitan central cities, suburbs, small cities, and rural areas. No area can or should exist in isolation. It is the intention of this report to draw attention to relative importance and significance of metropolitan areas and their central cities across all of Canada. Its goal is to stress that they are important not that they are more important.
Canada has always, with some sense of pride, identified itself as one of the “most urbanized” nations in the world. That urbanization has created many benefits and lots of opportunities. Our continued growth and success disproportionately depend on the vitality and resilience of all our cities and metropolitan regions. One need not look very far in a rapidly urbanizing world to see that any advantage we may have gained from our urbanized population is rapidly diminishing. More needs to be done to keep our central cities and their surrounding suburbs healthy and prosperous. It is not just a question of more spending and greater funding for infrastructure. Although important, our cities more urgently need some attention and recognition of their significance. Unless we recognize the value generated by our urban areas and actively work to amplify that value, we will be committing ourselves to slower growth and reduced prosperity for all.
The report is a product of a collaborative effort of the following organizations:
Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto;
- University of Toronto Cities Centre;
- The Urban Studies Programme at Innis College, University of Toronto;
- The Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa;
- Centre de Recherche en Aménagement et en Développement, Université Laval;
- Dalhousie University;
- INRS Urbanisation Culture Société;
- Queen’s University; and,
- The School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo.
Further information on the report is online at www.martinprosperity.org/research-and-publications/publication/who-cares-about-15-million-urban-voters.
The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is redesigning business education for the 21st century with a curriculum based on Integrative Thinking. Located in the world’s most diverse city, the Rotman School fosters a new way to think that enables the design of creative business solutions. The School is currently raising $200 million to ensure Canada has the world-class business school it deserves. For more information, visit www.rotman.utoronto.ca.
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