In recent years, even a casual observer will have noticed Toronto’s increasingly imposing skyline. High and mid-rise towers are popping up, casting shadows over the houses that once formed the backbone of so many of the city’s neighbourhoods.
And no, it’s not your imagination. The 2016 census, released last week, showed that now 44 per cent of the homes available in the city are apartments, while 40 per cent are detached family homes.
If it’s any consolation for would-be homeowners, the trend was even more pronounced in Montreal and Vancouver, where apartments make up 58 per cent of dwellings.
The trend toward building higher and higher in Toronto has been clear for some time.
“It wasn’t too much of a surprise. It’s the kind of numbers that confirm what all our eyes are showing us,” said Graham Haines, a researcher at Ryerson University’s City Building Institute.
“We’re starting to build up,” he adds,” because there’s no opportunities to build new houses.”
A comparison of census data from 2011 and 2016 shows Toronto proper actually lost more than 5,300 single detached homes, as well as more than 1,000 semi-detached homes. In the same period, about 64,000 new high-rise units were constructed.
The next most popular builds were duplexes, with 3,795 built in the five years covered by the census.
“But these trends are not unique to Toronto; they’re the sort of things that our region is going to have to grapple with as a whole,” Graham said.
‘There’s nowhere to go but up’
Indeed, high-rise towers are also outpacing other forms of construction in several regions that are part of the Toronto census metropolitan area, which includes nearby cities like Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Richmond Hill and a host of other growing communities, according to census data.
The boom in high-rise living boils down to a few simple principles, said Sean Galbraith, an urban planner based downtown. There is simply no room for the development of…