I’ve always been interested in how researchers sort and label neighbourhoods. That is why the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre report, Eight Canadian Metropolitan Areas: Who Lived Where in 2006?, caught my eye. The report uses statistical analysis to pin down what kind of common neighbourhood “types” exist in Canadian cities.
Looking at the maps below, it’s obvious that the authors found cities that are far more complex than the urban/suburban view of cities would suggest.
The authors identified six broad neighbourhood typologies in Canadian cities:
- Older Working Class, generally found in the inner suburbs;
- Urban/Suburban Homeowner, located in stable residential areas constructed after 1945;
- Old City Establishment, situated in older high-income, inner city areas associated with gentrification;
- Young, Single, & Mobile Renters, which are found downtown;
- Disadvantaged Groups, exhibit the most complex and diverse clusters around city regions; and
- Family Ethnoburbs, which are found in the suburbs of only four of the cities studied.
The researchers use these typologies to highlight the complexity of social geography in Canadian cities. A scan of the maps reveals quickly that the social geography of Canada’s largest cities is more complex than that of its smaller cities.
For example, the city regions that are attracting the countries most immigrants, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Calgary, also have a unique neighbourhood typology called the “Family Ethnoburbs.” The Ethnoburbs are located in newer neighbourhoods on the cities edges. The existence of this typology is a powerful indicator urban growth over the last two decades has become critical for our big cities to attract global talent and the importance of new housing to accommodate growth and attract immigrants.
What I find most interesting is that these maps are not static. Twenty-five years ago we would not have had Family Ethnoburbs, or an identifiable group of Young, Single, Mobile renters located downtown.
It will interesting to see how this social map of Canadian cities will change over the next twenty-five years. These categories are very much a product of Canadian cities today (do American cities have similar ethnoburbs?). The social structure and population of our cities is constantly changing, so these maps provide an interesting perspective of our complex and always changing city regions.
Take a look at the full report here.