It appears that nearly all of the new growth in population since 2006 has been single family residential sprawl in new suburban greenfields. So much for intensification.
By Ryan McGreal
Published February 13, 2012
this article has been updated
Joey Coleman has done some preliminary work mapping the Statistics Canada 2011 census data to Hamilton's ward maps and applying geographic coordinates for the census tract boundaries.
The ward totals are approximate; StatsCan data is broken down by Census Tract and they do not map exactly to our ward boundaries. As a result, a few CTs span two wards.
According to Coleman, there are overlaps on wards 14/15, 14/12, 11/9, 6/7 and 4/5. In those cases, the CT has been assigned to the ward that contains the bulk of the CT.
The City's official ward population map [PDF] does the same thing, and includes the caveat: "In some instances, Census tracts were assigned (aggregated) to the 'most appropriate' ward due to boundary conflicts."
Using Joey's data we have posted a representation of the census tract data on a google map. Census tracts in green gained population between 2006 and 2011; census tracts in red lost population. Hover over a census tract to see a pop-up tooltip with the ward, CT number, area, density, 2006 population and 2011 population.
Based on this data, Wards 1-5 lost an average of 423 residents each between 2006 and 2011.
Ward 2 has by far the highest density of the five lower city wards and was the only one to make an overall gain in residents. It increased population in: the area bounded by Cannon, James North, King and Queen; the area bounded by Strachan, Wellington, Cannon and James North; and the area bounded by King, Wellington, the Escarpment and James South.
The stagnation and slow decline in the populations of wards 1, 3, 4, and 5 appears to relate mainly to the fact that their building stock - mostly single family houses with some medium density over commercial streets - remains unchanged while the average size of Canadian families has been falling slowly.
Since these wards are already built out, the only way to increase their density is to insert new higher-density residential developments, and we haven't seen much of that.
It's not surprising, then, that Ward 2 bucked the trend of modest population decline by having a truly urban built form that more has easily accommodated new high-density building.
Ward 2's population growth comes despite - or rather because of - the fact that it already has by far the highest density in the city - over 6,000 people per square kilometre. That's three times as high as Wards 1, 4 and 5 and over twice as high as Ward 3.
Ward 6 lost 558 residents despite the completion of the Red Hill Valley Parkway, but wards 7 and 8 gained 2,051 and 1,287 residents, respectively. With population densities on par with or higher than most lower city neighbourhoods, Hamilton's inner-ring mountain suburbs actually did a better job of accommodating new residents - though most of the growth seems to have been suburban expansion around and south of Stone Church.
Ward 6 gained residents in the area between Upper Ottawa, Fennel and the Mountain brow, but lost residents in every other census tract.
Ward 7 gained residents in the areas: between Concession, Upper Sherman, Fennell and Upper Wentworth; between Fennel, Upper Wentworth, Mohawk and Upper Wellington; between Mohawk, Upper Gage, the Linc and Upper Wentworth; and more broadly in the areas south of the Linc and especially south of Stone Church.
Likewise, Ward 8 gained most of its residents south of the Linc and especially southof Stone Church, with a few pockets of modest growth in the northwest between Garth and Upper Paradise.
Meanwhile, the two wards responsible for most city-wide growth between 2006 and 2011 are wards 11 (Glanbrook) and 12 (Ancaster), which grew by approximately 38% and 12%, respectively.
Needless to day, nearly all that growth was single family residential sprawl on new greenfields. They will continue to grow as long as the city continues to expand the urban boundary and couple expensive, low-density municipal infrastructure with discounted development charges.
So much for the Provincially mandated target of 40 percent intensification through 2025, which is supposed to take effect in 2015. The city's Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS) decidedly backloads its bare-minimum commitment to the Provincial goal; meanwhile, it has been business as usual in a city dominated for decades by unrestrained residential sprawl.
The legacy of that sprawl is an under-performing lower city starved of resources and a growing city-wide infrastructure base that cannot pay for itself because most of it is too low-density for property taxes to cover its life-cycle costs.
The Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD), if it goes ahead, will be a sprawl bonanza when the prospective industrial uses don't materialize and residential developers rush in to take advantage of all that new infrastructure.
It's no surprise that the strongest support for AEGD comes from the residential home building industry. Most of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) appeals on the AEGD boundary expansion are efforts to have properties owned by home builders a) added to the area or b) rezoned for residential use.
Despite the City's protestations to the contrary, for the past several years, Hamilton has regularly caved into the demands of home builders and rezoned dedicated industrial sites with highway access for residential development.
Why should we expect AEGD to be any different, when the principal political impetus to build it is coming from those same home builders?
|Ward||2006||2011||Area (km2)||Density (per km2)||Change||% Change|
|* Some Census Tracts cross ward boundaries. In these cases, their numbers were assigned to the ward that contains the bulk of the CT.|
Update: A reader noticed that the Ward 10 numbers seemed low. It turns out we had two CTs allocated to Ward 11 by mistake.
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