How Does the City Grow? - September 2016

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How Does the City Grow? - September 2016

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Key Findings

Toronto is Canada's most populous city, the focal point of development and growth, and the heart of the Greater Toronto Area. For many years now, Toronto has experienced a surge of both residential and non-residential growth. The How Does the City Grow bulletin examines how and where the City has been growing over the past five years and how it will continue to develop in the near future.

Toronto's Official Plan, which came into force in June 2006, is the guide for development in the City over the next few decades. Its central geographic theme is to direct growth to appropriate areas and away from the City’s stable residential neighbourhoods and green spaces. The Official Plan targets new development to approximately 25% of the City's lands and strives to protect the remaining 75% from significant intensification. The locations recognized as being most appropriate for growth are those identified in the Official Plan's Urban Structure Map as Avenues, Centres and the Downtown as well as other areas in the City designated as Mixed Use Areas and Employment Areas.


Toronto is growing with strong development prospects helping to bring more people and jobs into the City.

  • From 2011 to 2015, 311,350 residential units and 7.94 million m2 of non-residential GFA were proposed in the City of Toronto.
  • 83% of new residential development is proposed in areas targeted for growth by the City’s Official Plan.
  • 224,700 residential units and 5.26 million m2 of non-residential floor space proposed have not yet been built. Toronto will continue to grow as proposed developments receive planning approval and building permits.
  • The most growth was proposed in the Downtown & Central Waterfront, with 38% of the residential units and 46% of the non-residential GFA proposed in the City.
  • Among the Centres, Yonge-Eglinton Centre has the most residential activity with 39% of the units proposed in the Centres. North York Centre led non-residential development with 52% of all non-residential activity in the Centres.
  • More than 72,800 residential units were proposed along the Avenues identified in the Official Plan.
  • 23% of the City’s proposed non-residential floor space is in the City’s Employment Areas.
  • 46% of the proposed residential units are located in an area covered by a Secondary Plan.
  • As the City’s Urban Growth Centres develop, they are progressing towards the Province’s density targets, as set out in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Although employment is also increasing, most of the recent added density is due to residential growth. 




If you have any questions, please contact Research and Information in the City Planning Division at Email:

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