This method identified “Active Cores” using active transportation data, and excluded “Exurban Areas” using low population density per kilometre and extensive automobile use. The remaining suburbs were classified into two groups (Transit Suburbs and Auto Suburbs) based upon the actual mode of transportation people use in order to get to work. This information was taken from 2006 and 1996 census data at the census tract level.
An Active Core is defined as a neighbourhood that has an average rate of active transportation, walking and cycling, 1.5 times higher than the overall average for the census metropolitan area. These census tracts are generally in central areas and the downtowns of cities. In some larger cities, Active Cores have begun to form in secondary centres outside of the downtown, such as Vancouver. In larger metropolitan areas, multiple Active Cores may also be older downtowns of towns that have now been absorbed into the larger CMA, such as St. Jerome in Montreal, Oakville in Toronto or Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge. This is the reason for the designation of ‘Active Core’ as opposed to ‘Inner City. The results show that characteristics of the inner city may not simply occur in the geographic connotations of the term.
Suburbs are defined as areas with low active transit and generally have a high rate of automobile use. Although this chart simply shows the total suburbs, a second chart separates the suburb category into ‘Transit Suburbs’ and ‘Auto Suburbs’. ‘Transit Suburbs’ are census tracts that have a higher than average rate of transit use than the overall average for the CMA. This is relative because even if a census tract exceeds the average, transit use rates usually are fairly low in most Canadian cities. This effect is predominant in smaller CMAs and less in larger ones. ‘Automobile Suburbs’ consist of very low transit use rates and the automobile is the dominant mode of transportation.
‘Exurban’ is defined as areas that have low density and mostly depend on automobile use. Though ‘Exurban’ is not included in the suburban category, many people may live in single detached homes and commute by auto to the Central City, as opposed to living a more agrarian lifestyle. We tried three different definitions of ‘low density’ for rural/exurban and settled on the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s rural communities definition, which is limited to areas that have less than 150 people per square kilometre. This is one of the methods used by Statistics Canada in their rural lands analysis (du Plessis et al, 2001).
We tried a dozen different models that used transportation and density measures in an attempt to classify the active core, suburbs and exurban areas. This chart shows the summary results for other models that were tried.