The suburbs are outpacing the traditional city centres when it comes to where Canadians are getting to work, according to new data released by Statistics Canada that examines the country’s eight largest census metropolitan areas.
In Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, at least 70% of the workers had a job located five km or more from the city centre.
Toronto, in particular, was more likely to see a large number of people working away from areas within and near downtown, with more than a quarter of commuters working 25 km or more from the city centre in 2016 — up from about 20% in 1996.
According to analysts, the share of within city-core commuters declined in every CMA from 1996 to 2016. The city core is defined as areas located within five km of the city centre.
The proportion of suburban commuters — those living and working in the suburbs — in Toronto and Montreal fell by over 70% during this period, and dropped by 64% in Vancouver.
For Calgary, the proportion of workers who commuted within the city core declined from 22% to 9%, and this city also saw the largest growth in the proportion of suburban commuters, from 43% to 56% over the same period.
“With more people and businesses located in suburban areas, commuting choices and patterns have changed in the past two decades,” reads a report.
“In Canada’s large metropolitan areas, an increasing number of people are working outside the city core.”
When it comes to transportation mode, 67% of traditional commuters — from a suburb to the city core — used public transit in Toronto, which is an increase from 53% in 1996.
Public transit use also increased for this cohort in Montreal (from 38% to 55%) and Vancouver (30% to 45%).
Active transportation modes of walking and biking saw significant increases for those who both worked and lived within the city core.
In Toronto, 47% of within city-core commuters used an active mode of transportation in 2016, up from 19% in 1996. Montreal saw increases from 16% to 38%, Vancouver from 17% to 39%, and Calgary from 15% to 38%.
However, public transit use among long suburban commuters — living and working in a suburb, with a commute of five km or more — remains relatively low. In Toronto, for instance, 13% of long suburban commuters used public transit in 2016, which is largely unchanged from 1996.
“A relatively small share of suburban commuters use public transit or active modes of transportation such as walking or bicycling, even in large metropolitan areas that have more developed public transit and bicycling infrastructure,” continues the report.