Organization of the report

Section 1 lays the groundwork for the analysis by discussing the policy context in the Toronto metropolitan region and the use and meaning of density in planning practice.

Through analysis of 16 existing urban districts in the Toronto metropolitan region, Section 2 empirically explores how density may be related to other measurable aspects of urban and built form such as housing type mix and public facilities such as parks, schools, roads, and protected open space. The section also explores the segregation of land uses at the local and metropolitan regional scales and how it, as well as different street network configurations, density levels, and other factors, influence travel behaviour. More specifically, Section 2 seeks to shed light on several important questions:

  • Is there a relationship between density and the era in which a neighbourhood was first planned and built out?
  • Have increasingly generous standards for public facilities such as parks, schools, and areas protected for environmental reasons lowered overall densities in more recently developed areas?
  • To what extent does the prevalence of any one housing type or combination of housing types determine density?
  • What potential is there for higher densities, greater mixing of land uses, and more connected street systems to shift travel behaviour away from automobile and towards walking, cycling, and public transit?

In a sense, Section 3 inverts the logic of Section 2. Instead of examining the characteristics of existing urbanized locations, it explores the potential impact on density of 24 hypothetical development scenarios. This provides a sense of which policy interventions might provide the greatest returns. Section 4 draws conclusions from the analyses in Sections 2 and 3, with an emphasis on implications for policy.