Comparing Neighbourhoods — Toronto

CMHC's study compares different types of neighbourhoods located in the Greater Toronto Area, based on their proximity to downtown and the types of homes they offer.

Source: Statistics Canada.
Neighbourhood types were defined by establishing consistent thresholds for housing types, using data from the 2001 Census. Area boundaries (e.g. central area vs. inner or outer suburbs) were based on definitions established by the Transportation Association of Canada's Urban Indicator Survey project and refined through discussions with local municipal staff.
Map of Toronto

Neighbourhood Types

Neighbourhoods in the central area where homes are mostly high- and low-rise apartments and condominiums, like Harbourfront, St. Lawrence and King Spadina.

Toronto

Toronto

Neighbourhoods in the central area offering a mix of housing types, like Riverdale, Roncesvalles and High Park/Swansea.

Toronto

Toronto

Neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs offering a mix of housing types*, like Willowdale and Mimico.

Toronto

Toronto

Neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs where homes are mostly detached, like West Humber, Rouge and Guildwood.

Toronto

Neighbourhoods in the outer suburbs offering a mix of housing types**, particularly townhouses, semi- and single-detached homes, like Streetsville.

Toronto

Neighbourhoods in the outer suburbs where homes are mostly detached, like parts of Vaughn, Ajax and Newmarket.

Toronto

Toronto

* Also refers to the most compact neighbourhoods of the inner suburbs.
**Also refers to the most compact neighbourhoods of the outer suburbs.

How do different Toronto neighbourhoods compare:

What were the monthly costs to rent or own a home in 2001?

For renters, average monthly housing costs were lowest in the central area and inner suburbs, in neighbourhoods like St. Lawrence, Riverdale and Mimico, and were highest in the outer suburbs, in neighbourhoods like Vaughn and Newmarket. However, for owners, costs were highest in the central area where homes are mostly high- and low-rise apartments, like Harbourfront, followed by the outer suburbs, but lowest in the inner suburbs, in neighbourhoods like Mimico and West Humber. But given that a higher percentage of people rented in the centrally located neighbourhoods, the overall housing costs were lower on average in the central area and inner suburbs than in the outer suburbs.

Average monthly housing costs

Average monthly housing costs - toronto
Data is from the 2001 Census, Statistics Canada, and has not been corrected to reflect inflation. It includes rent for renters, and for owners, it includes mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes and condo fees. Monthly mortgage payments for identically priced homes today may differ significantly depending on date of purchase and other variables in individual homeowners' mortgage situations.

Photos and descriptions of these types of neighbourhoods

Did you know

Did you know that if you drive about 18,000 km per year, it costs on average over $9,000 annually to own and operate a car in Canada? If living in a more pedestrian/public transit-oriented development enables you to get by with one less car, think of the savings.

Did you know

But consider your transportation costs. People living in centrally located neighbourhoods, like Harbourfront and Riverdale, drive less and own fewer cars than those in suburban neighbourhoods, like Ajax.

How many rooms are there in the homes?

Homes in suburban neighbourhoods, like Guildwood and Vaughn, offer more space, in terms of the number of bedrooms and total rooms, than those closer to downtown, like St. Lawrence and Riverdale. However, for many residents living in the urban core, a smaller home is a worthy trade-off for being closer to amenities like parks and shopping.

Average number of rooms

Average number of rooms - toronto
Data is from the 2001 Census, Statistics Canada.
*excludes bathrooms, halls and vestibules

Photos and descriptions of these types of neighbourhoods

How close are the homes to schools, jobs, parks and other daily destinations?

Homes in centrally located neighbourhoods, like St. Lawrence and Riverdale, are closer to daily destinations like jobs, schools, parks and access to rapid transit, as well as shopping and entertainment, than they are in suburban neighbourhoods, like Guildwood, Vaughn and Ajax. Access to these destinations decreases as you move from downtown to the outer edge of the GTA.

Walking, cycling and using public transit are more feasible when these destinations are close to home and when routes for pedestrians and cyclists are pleasant and safe, for example, on streets with slow-moving cars, shade trees overhead and shops or homes beside the sidewalk, rather than parking lots. Therefore people who live in walk-cycle-transit friendly neighbourhoods have more choice in their mode of transportation — they don't have to take their car for every trip. Walking or biking to get to your daily tasks is excellent for your health and driving less or needing one less car means you save money.

Did you know
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, like walking or biking, to reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and stroke. Where homes are within walking distance of stores and other services, people are 2.4 times more likely to meet the 30-minute minimum than those in homes that are not within a convenient or pleasant walk to stores/services.
Did you know

Proximity to daily destinations

Proximity to daily destinations - toronto
Sources: CanMapR Streetfiles V6.3 and the 2001 Census, Statistics Canada.
*includes elementary and secondary schools only

Photos and descriptions of these types of neighbourhoods

Do people get by with fewer cars or do they drive less?

The study estimates that people living in the central area neighbourhoods, like St. Lawrence and Roncesvalles, own fewer cars than those in suburban neighbourhoods, like Vaughn, Streetsville and West Humber, even accounting for the average number of people and income per household. They also drive less for weekday urban trips, like going to work or shopping. Owning fewer cars saves money and those who decide to manage without a car can expect big annual savings. Even car owners can expect to save money by driving less. If you drive 18,000 km per year, the average cost to own and operate a vehicle in Canada is over $9,000 annually.

Estimated vehicles owned per household, on average

Estimated vehicles owned per household, on average - toronto
Source: Estimated by CMHC's Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Travel: Tool for Evaluating Neighbourhood Sustainability. All scenarios based on weekday urban travel, 245 weekdays, average GTA household size of 2.8 people, and GTA average household income. These estimates are meant only to provide a relative comparison between neighbourhood types. Although empirical data from actual GTA neighbourhoods was used to input into the estimating tool, actual values for each neighbourhood and household will vary from the estimates shown above.

Estimated distance driven for weekday urban trips
(annual km per household, on average)

Estimated distance driven for weekday urban trips - toronto
Source: Estimated by CMHC's Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Travel: Tool for Evaluating Neighbourhood Sustainability. All scenarios based on weekday urban travel, 245 weekdays, average GTA household size of 2.8 people, and GTA average household income. These estimates are meant only to provide a relative comparison between neighbourhood types. Although empirical data from actual GTA neighbourhoods was used to input into the estimating tool, actual values for each neighbourhood and household will vary from the estimates shown above.

Photos and descriptions of these types of neighbourhoods

Do people reduce greenhouse gas emissions by driving less?

Households located in centrally located neighbourhoods produce fewer greenhouse gases from weekday urban trips, like going to work or shopping, than those in suburban neighbourhoods.

Estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions from weekday urban car trips
(kg of GHG per household, on average)

Estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions from weekday urban car trips - toronto
Source: Estimated by CMHC's Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Travel: Tool for Evaluating Neighbourhood Sustainability. All scenarios based on weekday urban travel, 245 weekdays, average GTA household size of 2.8 people, and GTA average household income. These estimates are meant only to provide a relative comparison between neighbourhood types. Although empirical data from actual GTA neighbourhoods was used to input into the estimating tool, actual values for each neighbourhood and household will vary from the estimates shown above. Additional GHG emission would be incurred from public transit use. On an equivalent passenger-km basis, GHGs from public transit are considerably less than from private vehicles.

Photos and descriptions of these types of neighbourhoods

Is there a range of housing choices, so people can stay in the neighbourhood as their needs change?

Neighbourhoods offering a mix of housing in the central area, like Riverdale and Roncesvalles, have the broadest range of housing choices, followed by certain pockets of the outer and inner suburbs, like Mimico and Streetsville. First, they offer a broader mix of housing types, including townhouses, high- and low-rise apartments, single-detached homes and semis. Most neighbourhoods in the outer suburbs, like those in Vaughn and Ajax, tend to offer a higher proportion of single-detached homes while neighbourhoods nearest the downtown core, like Harbourfront, tend to offer mostly high- and low-rise apartments and condominiums. Also, the percentage of rental vs. ownership is roughly equal in the neighbourhoods with a mix of housing in the central area, like Riverdale and Roncesvalles. Whereas the outer suburbs have a significantly higher proportion of owned housing and fewer rental options, while neighbourhoods nearest the downtown core, like St. Lawrence, offer significantly more rental compared to owned housing.

A neighbourhood that offers a variety of housing choices is one where you can stay as your age, family and income change.

Mix of house types

Mix of house types - toronto
Data from the 2001 Census, Statistics Canada.
This index describes the mix of homes that are single-detached, semi-detached, townhouses and apartments. 0 = all one type; 1.0 = equal mix of different types.

Mix of house types

Mix of housing types - toronto
Data from 2001 Census, Statistics Canada.

Percentage of rental housing

Percentage of rental housing - toronto
Data from 2001 Census, Statistics Canada.

Photos and descriptions of these types of neighbourhoods

Study Limitations

The results shown above are averages for each neighbourhood type and will differ by individual household. While they are based on measured or estimated data from real neighbourhoods, they are meant only to provide a comparison of relative values for each variable between neighbourhood types.

This study was prepared by IBI Group. This research project was funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The contents are the responsibility of the author (s) and CMHC accepts no responsibility for them or any consequence arising from the reader's use of the information, materials and techniques described herein.

Canada

Share...


Print(opens in a new window)