Making Room for Growth: Housing Intensification in Canada's Cities, 2016-2021

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Making Room for Growth: Housing Intensification in Canada's Cities, 2016-2021

Main Conclusions

  • As Canada struggles to close the gap between the number of homes needed and the number built, its communities are faced with two options to increase housing supply: spreading outward, by adding new neighbourhoods at the urban fringe, or becoming more dense, by allowing more homes to be built within existing neighbourhoods—a process called “intensification”.
  • A majority (54.2%) of the growth in Canada’s housing stock between 2016 and 2021 occurred in existing neighbourhoods, rather than on undeveloped land; intensification is a major driver of growth in Canada’s housing stock.
  • A little more than half of this intensification (50.9%) occurred in the fastest-growing 5% of urban census tracts, suggesting a highly uneven pattern of growth in the housing stock.
  • On the other hand, more than a quarter (26.4%) of urban tracts lost more dwellings over this period than they added, representing a cumulative net loss of 33,723 dwellings.
  • This highly uneven growth pattern holds across most major metropolitan areas.
  • Canada faces an acute shortage of housing, and needs to increase housing supply across all housing types, regions, and neighbourhoods.
  • Given the important role played by intensification in accommodating a fast-growing population, the trends identified in this report should inform urban policy makers and Canadians in search of adequate housing options.

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