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E-BLAST: You Might Not Believe It, but Most of Our Ward Is Shrinking

While the census might not seem like the most exciting thing, I always look forward to poring over the new data when it comes out. The way our population changes, and most importantly where it changes, has huge impacts on our city, especially when it comes to creating neighbourhoods that are affordable and liveable for all.

The Toronto Star recently put out maps showing the population change across Toronto, and what they showed in Don Valley North was a bit of a shocker. We may be inundated with development applications at the south end of our ward, but did you know that throughout most of the ward our population is actually shrinking?

Toronto population growth from 2016-2021, with Don Valley North outlined in green. Click on the image to view a larger, interactive version of the map.

Above is a map of population change across our city, with Don Valley North highlighted in green. That map shows us that we’re experiencing rapid population growth along transit lines, where the Province’s growth policies incentivize it. The surprise on the map is that almost all other areas of the city indicate a slightly declining population.

This trend holds true here in Don Valley North. Our population along Sheppard from Bayview to Victoria Park (along the subway line) increased by almost 7000 people, but in all other areas it shrunk by over 3000. The neighbourhood that experienced the greatest population decline was Don Valley Village, down 14.3% or 414 people. Second place, by percentage, is Bayview Woods, down 7.8%. It is, however, a larger geographical area, so Bayview Woods’ population reduced by 417 people.

Another notable trend is the decrease in children in our ward. Our population in the 0 – 14 age group is down by 500, with the vast majority of that decline happening north of Finch. Overall, our ward grew by 3700 residents, but as we can see that growth is not spread evenly across neighbourhoods.

North York population growth for children ages 0 - 14, with Don Valley North outlined in bright green. Note that purple represents population decline while green represents population growth.

Looking at those numbers may put you to sleep, but for governments this information is gold. Population counts are how we plan for the future, especially when it comes to keeping our infrastructure, our services, our schools, and our housing options up to snuff.

To put this all into perspective, I chatted with the members of our Don Valley North Youth Council last Friday about what these changes mean for their futures. I started out our meeting by posing a question to them: “Where do you think you’ll be living in ten years’ time?” I had my staff and myself answer as well, which gave us broad cross-section of answers from a range of age groups.

Our Youth Council members are a bunch of smart and realistic kids. No one thought they’d be living in a New York City penthouse by the time they’re 30. Out of a dozen, two said their studies might take them out of town and that they didn’t know if they would be able to afford to come back. A couple said they would still be in their neighbourhood near family, while the rest wanted to move downtown closer to universities but doubted that they’d be able to afford it. Everyone feared they might not be able to afford to move out before they turned thirty.

A picture from our Youth Council meeting last Friday.

My answer to my own question showed one of the biggest housing challenges we’re facing in Toronto: I don’t plan to move out of my house in ten years’ time. These days, a person in their early 70s can stay pretty healthy and will likely stay in their home, possibly well into their 80s or even 90s. It’s wonderful to see how many people are able to age in place in the neighbourhoods they love, but it is limiting what’s available for young people desperate to find a family home.

Now ask yourself, did you spend time fretting about what kind of housing you could afford when you were a teenager? These days, young people worry about it a lot. At Youth Council, we talked about what the City and other governments are doing to help with their future housing concerns.

You’ve likely seen a slide like this if you’ve attended a development consultation recently. Planners like to show this to explain the spectrum of housing types across our city. The slide above was created by Urban Minds, and not-for-profit that specializes in engaging youth to help plan cities for the future. It does a great job showing the current situation in Toronto.

At one extreme end of the spectrum, we have Torontonians sleeping in parks, which is why we need to keep running our emergency shelters. At the other extreme, we have volumes of market housing in the form of resale homes, new-build monster houses, and condos. The real supply problem lies in the middle, and this is the type of housing that many people of all ages need these days: affordable housing.

This is where those census demographics become very important. There are parts of our city that are growing as fast as they comfortably can, and the fact of the matter is not all growth can happen right next to existing transit. City Planners need to look at the areas of our city that are shrinking, and figure out how to bring people back. That means creating affordable housing and making sure all of our neighbourhoods are liveable and properly serviced. Quality of life can’t be taken for granted when we plan for our future.

As for the Youth Council members who looked at the census with me, they want what you want, dear reader: a safe, affordable, and vibrant place to live, with reliable infrastructure and good community facilities for them and their future kids. They’re prepared to live just about anywhere in the city to find affordable homes.

I know that I didn’t worry about my future home or city services when I was in my teens. Hearing these young people raise these concerns about their future, I vowed to myself that I will do whatever I can to help them stay in the city they love. We’ve got affordable housing underway, but we need to do more, especially in the parts of our city that are shrinking. If we do this right, we can help young people get their first homes while our seniors age in place, all the while making sure we’re creating truly liveable communities.


Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital is running a walk-in vaccine clinic at Oriole Community Centre every Wednesday (12:00 - 3:00 PM) and Thursday (4:00 - 7:30 PM) in May and June. First, second, third, and fourth doses are available for those eligible. For more information, visit the link below:

Parkway Forest Community Centre (55 Forest Manor Rd.)

North York General Hospital is running a walk-in vaccine clinic at Parkway Forest Community Centre every Wednesday from 4:00 - 7:30 PM in May and June. First, second, third, and fourth doses are available for those eligible. For more information, visit the link below:


Meet Louise Veffer, our Don Valley Northerner of the Week! Louise was nominated by one of her neighbours who sees how much work Louise puts into her garden and how much joy it brings to the neighbourhood. When the garden is in full bloom, folks from all over the neighbourhood stop by to admire it and often thank Louise when they see her. Louise is also always the first one to report any issue on her street to the City, from water main breaks to trees that need pruning. Thank you, Louise, for brightening your neighbours' spirits and looking out for the community.

Nominate a Neighbour! Do you know someone in your neighbourhood who makes a difference? Nominate them for Don Valley Northerner of the Week! To submit a nomination, please send a short blurb (~100 words) about the person you are nominating to My team will contact you if we select your nominee as Don Valley Northerner of the Week!



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