Toronto in 2019 won the title of fastest growing city in Canada and the U.S. — a boom fuelled by immigration unlikely to be derailed by the pandemic, experts say.
The ranking was revealed by Diana Petramala and Hannah Chan Smyth of Ryerson University's Centre for Urban Research and Land Development.
Analysing U.S. and Canadian figures for 12 months ending July 1, 2019, they show Toronto with the biggest growth, in terms of the city and also the census metropolitan area (CMA) that includes municipalities around Toronto.
“The data shows that Toronto was the fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada and the U.S. last year, overtaking Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington for the top spot,” they wrote in a blog on their findings.
Metropolitan Toronto grew by 127,575 people, compared to 117,380 newcomers to Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington. Metropolitan Montreal was the sixth fastest growing area, with a population increase of 65,205.
New York, Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas all shrank over the 12 months, with New York hit the hardest losing 60,462 people.
Focusing on the cities themselves, both Toronto and New York saw established residents move to other cities, with high housing costs a likely driver.
But Toronto’s immigration advantage saw the city achieve a net gain of 45,742 people, while New York City contracted by 53,264 residents.
Overall, Canadian cities represented 11 of the top 20 central cities in the U.S. and Canada in population growth. The city of Montreal was second among U.S. and Canadian cities with 31,565 more residents.
Petramala said the pandemic that has halted international flights will, in the short term, slow immigration to the GTA and other cities.
But long term, the GTA magnet should remain strong.
“Toronto is better positioned for the recovery and for continuing to attract labour,” than many other cities, she said.
Kareem El-Assal, director of policy at Canadavisa.com which provides legal and other services to immigrants, also doubts the pandemic will hurt GTA growth.
With a strong economy including a booming tech sector, many agencies to help newcomers, plus existing ethnic communities from all over the globe, the GTA will remain an international draw, El-Assal predicted.
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“Toronto is, overall, a very welcoming city that respects different cultures, sexual orientations and other differences — more so than many other places,” he said.
“Once the pandemic is behind us, the GTA will remain by far the most attractive city or region in Canada, as well as one of the most attractive regions in the world.”