Estimating suburban population growth: A study of the Ottawa-Gatineau CMA, 1996-2016
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The purpose of this project was to determine the proportion of Ottawa-Gatineau Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) residents living in less sustainable forms of suburban development and to determine how this proportion has changed geographically and temporally, and to determine if Ottawa’s suburban growth management policies are achieving their targets. This report found that most Ottawa-Gatineau residents lived in less sustainable forms of development; 76% of the CMA population, over 1 million people, lived in automobile suburbs or exurbs. The good news is that temporal trend analysis found that the share of CMA population growth of the automobile suburbs decreased from 1996-2016, while that of the active cores increased over the same time period. However, the share of CMA growth of the transit suburbs decreased from 1996-2006, while that of the exurbs increased over the same time period. Geographic trend analysis found that most of Ottawa’s population growth was focused outside of the Greenbelt, and mainly in the Western area of Ottawa. Due to boundary and definition issues, direct comparison of study results with Official Plan quantitative growth targets was not possible. However, it is clear that most population growth is still occurring in the less sustainable automobile suburbs and exurban areas.