Toronto Metropolitan University
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Questioning density : an appraisal of the theoretical and empirical basis for smart growth in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area

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posted on 2021-05-25, 07:14 authored by Samuel Schachar
Smart Growth-densification is an essential element of the local planning ethic. However, little research has been undertaken on impacts of densification in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Accordingly, the first component of this MRP presents a critique of Smart Growth theory that is divided into two strands. The first strand identifies four methodological limitations in the foundational density research upon which Smart Growth theory is based. The second strand concludes that much of reviewed density research has been over-interpreted and appropriated to serve the Smart Growth rationale. To appraise the empirical basis for Smart Growth in the Toronto CMA, four hypotheses are tested using a cross-sectional and quasi-longitudinal design. Although 2006 census tract (CT) density and CT densification (1986-2006) demonstrated a relationship to sustainable outcomes, the nature of these did not conform to predictions of Smart Growth theory. The study also indicated that the relationship between density and outcomes was largely non-linear and partially attenuated by household-level factors. When all sections of this MRP are taken into account, the basis for Smart Growth-densification, according to its present definition, appears increasingly tenuous.





  • Master of Planning


  • Urban Development

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

Murtaza Haider