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JonnyCanuck

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For many years, downtown Montreal (like Calgary) was a destination. You went there either to work or play but not to live. In recent years, there has been a condo boom in downtown Montreal as people have embraced living in the inner city.
 

Mountain Man

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I'm just joking about how those guys are so preoccupied with Calgary and react every time someone says something good about Calgary lol.
 

Surrealplaces

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As large as Calgary's downtown looks in that diagram, it's interesting that it has the smallest area of the "Big 6" cities in Canada. It's interesting how large they drew Toronto and Edmonton's downtowns. They're capturing a lot of single family home neighbourhoods within those boundaries.

Here's the geographic sizes of each big city downtown, along with population densities in 2016 and 2021. I'm quite surprised by Montreal's growth. I clearly haven't been paying enough attention to that city.

CityArea (km2)Pop Density (2016)Pop Density (2021)Growth Rate
Vancouver
6.2​
18,309​
18,837​
3%​
Toronto
16.6​
14,319​
16,608​
16%​
Montréal
13.2​
6,679​
8,367​
25%​
Ottawa
9.7​
6,466​
6,847​
6%​
Calgary
6​
6,444​
7,778​
21%​
Edmonton
11.5​
4,869​
4,845​
0%​
Also surprising in a different way is Edmonton. Even though the defined downtown area is a larger area, actually losing density is somewhat alarming. I was thinking maybe they added more area to Edmonton's boundaries from 2016 to 2021, but from what I can see it's the same map. Somehow they lost population in that area over the past 5 years.

Vancouver is low, but given the small defined area, I'm not surprised as it is already filled with towers. There isn't a lot of room to work with. Montreal's growth is impressive, and actually given the mix there, is a good example of density.
 
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ByeByeBaby

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For the non-data nerds out there, can you explain why Prince's Island Park and the Stampede grounds are part of "Downtown Calgary"? The rest of the boundaries make intuitive sense to me.
StatsCan assembled the downtown areas out of their existing dissemination areas, which are small areas intended to be consistent through time, compact, follow neighbourhood boundaries, etc. And which have around 400-700 people per DA. Here are DAs in central Calgary:
1644432801676.png


Basically, they figured out the distribution of employment density in the city, and then picked any DAs that had density at least 40% of the highest density area. (One reason our downtown is relatively small is because it has a high peak of density; if there were fewer jobs in the middle of downtown, we would have a larger downtown.) From this core, they then added a semi-arbitrary* 1 km buffer to capture near-downtown residential areas. But it's built out of the DAs, so the boundaries will follow the DA boundaries.

As I mentioned, StatsCan defines DAs on a population basis, so there are intended to be 400-700 people in a DA. Which is fine in areas that are residential, but breaks down if there's other land uses. Look at Repsol Centre in the figure above; it's in the same DA as most of Erlton (north of 25th/26th ave). And it also has the cemeteries. And a bunch of industrial. And... more residential in Parkhill, down to 42nd Avenue. Does this make sense? It has 400-700 people in it, so that's all StatsCan cares about. So non-residential lands tend to get lumped in arbitrarily with nearby residential use; the Stampede is in the same area as the residential around the Elbow River Casino, Prince's Island is in with some Eau Claire residential. If the residential is in, the non-residential follows.

The final cut after all of their hard work trying to find downtowns that are consistent based on objective criteria across Canada was then running the geography past local governments, which I suspect is the other reason Calgary's downtown is so small. The north boundary is the river, but there are DAs in Sunnyside that are 1 km from the Courts Centre, which surely is in the high-density employment core. Much of Lower Mount Royal is in the 1 km buffer of Western Canadian Place, again, presumably in the high-density core. There are a number of DAs in lower Crescent Heights that are within 1 km of The Bow. The downtown that Statistics Canada uses is nearly identical to the Centre City policy area, used to determine a bunch of City policies (like why the cycle tracks on 5th St dead end at 17th Ave, the imaginary Centre City boundary, rather than going down to the Elbow River like makes sense). I suspect that Calgary told StatsCan that Centre City is our downtown, and to use the DAs that make up Center City as best as possible. (The Stampede is in the Beltline Community, therefore in Centre City).

I did my own attempt to replicate StatsCan's work. The DAs I chose as the employment core are in green based on the employment data I had, which is not the same as StatsCan but is probably fairly comparable. The blue is the 1 km buffer around the employment core, and the yellow DAs are the selected ones -- it excludes the Stampede (and the SW corner of the Beltline at 14th St/17th Ave. But it includes a good chunk of Sunnyside and Kensington, of lower Crescent Heights, Lower Mount Royal and Cliff Bungalow.

1644435064299.png


So I'm 90% sure that the City told StatsCan to make our downtown a fair bit smaller. My estimate is that there's roughly net 11,000 people (in 2016) in the area that is in the downtown on StatsCan criteria but not in the official definition. Going from 39K (in the official version) to 50K would mean Calgary had a larger downtown population than Winnipeg, Hamilton and Victoria in 2016 and we would probably have passed Edmonton in 2021.


* They were basing their work of a US Census analysis that added a 1 mile buffer for the same reason. They used 1 km because this is Canada and we use metric, I suppose. They try to justify it in the paper by saying that most people walking to work in 25 minutes or less, which is right, and that a 25 minute walk is roughly 1 km, which is wrong -- that assumes people barely walk at 2 km/h. Google uses 4.8 km/h in giving their directions; the standard I've generally seen used in Canadian transportation planning is 4 km/h. 25 minutes walk at 4 km/h is... 1.67 km, or almost exactly 1 mile. Also, they use straight line buffers because they lack basic GIS competence.
 

Surrealplaces

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Thanks for that concise explanation @ByeByeBaby. I was reading up on it on the Statscan page, and there is a lot of info there. I'm sure over in SSP they are arguing hard over who got ripped off on the boundaries and densities, etc.. lol

At the end of the day what's most important is the growth within the given boundaries, and 21% is very good - small boundary or not. If they were to include say...the rest of Mission, Lower Mount Royal, Cliff Bungalow and Hillhurst/Sunnyside, you would not only see a boost to the overall DT population, but also continue to see a strong growth rate as those areas have seen new developments.
 

CBBarnett

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Montreal's population density is barely larger than Calgary's. I'm sure those guys are all freaking out on SSP right about now lol.
This is where Montreal's unique style really shines through, it's downtown is impressive but that's not it's urban population base. Here's the Downtown + urban fringe 2021 population table:

1644438739971.png


Montreal's city centre at one point was much like Calgary's - over-built with offices and limited population. Only in the past decade has the Toronto condo-style boom really hit the city which is why the downtown is significantly growing again.

But Montreal's real secret was absolutely massive inner city population in their high-density, low-rise/walkup neighbourhoods right nearby. I don't have the previous census data to back this up, but of the amount of people less than 10 minutes from downtown, Montreal has never been beaten in absolute scale, easily beating Toronto in magnitude, despite Toronto's decades of endless tower construction.
 

Disraeli

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This is where Montreal's unique style really shines through, it's downtown is impressive but that's not it's urban population base. Here's the Downtown + urban fringe 2021 population table:

View attachment 379412

Montreal's city centre at one point was much like Calgary's - over-built with offices and limited population. Only in the past decade has the Toronto condo-style boom really hit the city which is why the downtown is significantly growing again.

But Montreal's real secret was absolutely massive inner city population in their high-density, low-rise/walkup neighbourhoods right nearby. I don't have the previous census data to back this up, but of the amount of people less than 10 minutes from downtown, Montreal has never been beaten in absolute scale, easily beating Toronto in magnitude, despite Toronto's decades of endless tower construction.
Is it possible to include area with those stats?
 

CBBarnett

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Is it possible to include area with those stats?
I'll see if I can find the data table, but it's generally the neighbourhoods you'd think around the city centre of Montreal.

Here's the map on the StatsCan website as an example. "urban fringe" is dark green. Fringe + Downtown = 828K people in 2021.
1644440905130.png
 

adamyyc

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View attachment 379378
Population change: https://censusmapper.ca/maps/3054#10/51.0543/-114.0710

The red area around Sunnyside is surprising, but I imagine it is a result of the demolition of a large number of rental units in recent years. The condemned rental apartment on 10th street would have taken a couple hundred residents away alone.

The other thing to note is that the trend of strong growth in the inner city and greenfield suburbs coupled with population loss in 1960s-2000s era suburbs continues.
I could literally play around on Census Mapper all day!

Pretty impressive population increase in South Calgary / Altadore 11,182 >>> 12,370 (+1,188; +10.6%).
 

Disraeli

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I'll see if I can find the data table, but it's generally the neighbourhoods you'd think around the city centre of Montreal.

Here's the map on the StatsCan website as an example. "urban fringe" is dark green. Fringe + Downtown = 828K people in 2021.
It's too bad Statscan didn't just define the radius of the "urban fringe" from a central point rather than making it in respect to the boundaries of what they define as downtown. Obviously the larger the "downtown" the larger the population of the urban fringe is going to be. Which is fine, but it makes it difficult to compare cities and explains why Vancouver's urban fringe + downtown population is roughly half that of Montreal's as it captures a much smaller area.
 

kora

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Interesting that the Mississauga and Burnaby downtowns are a little more dense than downtown Calgary

See Table 4
 

Silence&Motion

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Interesting that the Mississauga and Burnaby downtowns are a little more dense than downtown Calgary

See Table 4
This is where using density as a measure of "downtown" really starts to fall apart. Mississauga's "downtown" is just a massive number of high-rises dropped onto a grid of 7-lane car sewers and centred on a sea of surface parking lots surrounding a suburban-style mall (Square One).
 

Disraeli

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I could literally play around on Census Mapper all day!

Pretty impressive population increase in South Calgary / Altadore 11,182 >>> 12,370 (+1,188; +10.6%).
THe Marda Loop area has been one of Calgary's best success stories over the last 20 years. If we could have a couple more neighbourhoods emerge like that we will be in good shape
 

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