The Cities Centre, Innis Urban Studies Program, and Martin Prosperity Institute (all at the University of Toronto) along with contributors from universities across Ontario, have just released Cities Grow Ontario: Urban Challenges and Prospects. The report is meant to draw attention during this provincial political season to the role of cities in generating Ontario’s prosperity and the impact that urbanization has across the entire province.
While not advocating or evaluating any specific party’s platform or ideas, the report is intended to elevate the discussion of the importance of cities to the province and provide some clear and specific information about how people and things are distributed across Ontario’s metropolitan/suburban and small town/rural areas. Cities and metropolitan areas disproportionately generate the lion’s share of economic activity across Ontario. However, as “creatures of the province”, they depend heavily on provincial policies and political decisions. As the map below shows and the chart enumerates, metropolitan and suburban Ontario have somewhat less than proportional representation in the Ontario Provincial Parliament.
Exhibit 1: Total Number of Eligible Voters by Ontario Electoral Districts
(Canadian Citizens age 18 and over)
Exhibit 2: Ontario Representation by Location Type
The report includes information on: Ontario’s Population, Social Capital, and Economy. It shows how population, education, and significant sections of the Ontario economy are concentrated in a small number of metropolitan areas, while political power and other specific industries are more spread out over the province.
Ontario’s cities are where the action is and that activity influences the entire province. Cities and suburbs are home to more than their proportional share of jobs. In cities, both individuals and companies are more productive, creative and innovative. Cities have more trained and educated people. And, they earn more money, not just because the cost of living is higher. Cities generate provincial and federal tax revenues in amounts greater than their proportion of the population. As Ontario’s cities grow and prosper, the entire province benefits. The impact of urbanization reaches across the entire province. While cities and suburbs do raise challenges and issues beyond their borders, they also create benefits enjoyed by the entire province. Truly, cities grow Ontario.
The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors—location, place and city-regions—in global economic prosperity. We take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.