Surprise: Suburbs grow faster than cores
Well, not really – a surprise, that is. Rates of change, almost by definition, will be faster in the newer parts of an urban region than the core.
You can read how we’re doing in a new report by Urban Futures – Suburban Futures:
A look at employment & population change throughout the Lower Mainland.
Here’s the essence:
Between 2001 and 2011 employment in the core grew by only ten percent (through the addition of 58,371 net new jobs), compared to 15 percent growth region-wide. Suburban employment, on the other hand, grew at two and a half times this pace, as employment in the region’s suburbs (the other 16 major municipalities outside of the historical urban core) grew by 25 percent.
In terms of population, the only core municipalities that experienced growth above the regional average of 17 percent were Greater Vancouver Electoral Area A (65 percent; 8,030 additional residents) and New Westminster (21 percent; 11,320 additional residents). All other core municipalities grew below the regional average of 17 percent, with all of the suburban municipalities growing more rapidly.
The report frames itself as a reaction to the absurd notion that we’re seeing ‘a death of the suburbs’:
With most of the region’s growth in employment and population occurring outside of the historical urban core over the past decade, reports of the death of the suburbs have been greatly exaggerated—at least here in the Lower Mainland.
Greatly exaggerated indeed. One can make a better case that the core is in fact doing pretty darn good compared to the decline of cities elsewhere in North America. More importantly, faster suburban growth is an expected and inherent part of our regional plan. It’s supposed to happen that way.
The issue is how. If the suburbs grow a la Motordom, without their own centres that offer choice in accommodation and transportation, the quality of life and the economy will suffer – region wide.