Strategic Initiatives, Policy & Analysis

Flashforward: Projecting Population and Employment to 2031 in a Mature Urban Area

 Table of Contents


Population and employment projections inform long-range planning and infrastructure investment by indicating the scope and scale of population change. Projections provide explainable and defensible guesses about what might happen given a set of assumptions about past events and a model of the processes that relate them. The challenge is to make reasonable projections about where people will be living and working in the City of Toronto in the future. This information assists in identifying concerns regarding urban structure, form and pattern, and in making plans to address them.

This research paper will discuss the models and methodologies used to project population and employment for the city and for smaller areas within it from 1996 to 2031. The report will cover several modelling efforts:

  • Regional Population Projections to 2031;
  • Toronto Population and Household Projections;
    –Cohort-Component Model;
    –Household Projections;
  • Projecting Housing Supply;
    –the Residential Development Pipeline;
    –Opportunities for Development;
    –Avenues Residential Capacity Model;
    –Downtown Residential Potential;
  • Demand Versus Supply: Scenarios of Housing Supply to 2031;
  • Regional Employment Projections to 2031;
  • Toronto Employment Projections;
    –by Sector; and
    –by Traffic Zone.

The projection methodology is outlined in Figure 1. A regional population projection is used as a set of control totals for the projection of population. The population is projected by age and sex, over thirty-five years. The projected population is converted into households, which represent the demand for housing in each time period. The supply of housing is assembled from a variety of sources and phased across the projection timeframe. The components of supply are combined in a number of scenarios to accommodate the projected demand.

Similarly, a regional employment projection is used as a set of control totals for the projection of employment. Trends in regional and citywide employment by sector are developed and applied to the distribution of employment by sector and Traffic Zone in 1996 to determine the future distribution of employment.