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How are inner-city population densities affected by freeways? A study of eight Canadian cities

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How are inner-city population densities affected by freeways? A study of eight Canadian cities

Mehreen, Rushdia (2013) How are inner-city population densities affected by freeways? A study of eight Canadian cities. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Freeways (limited-access high speed roadways) have long been considered as contributing to low density housing and dispersed urban development (sprawl). Sprawl is known to be unsustainable for the environment, biodiversity and energy use. Metropolitan areas in Canada differ in the level of sprawl, in growth and decline in central city population as well as in the level of freeway provision. This study analyzes census data and the level of freeway provision to explore to what degree the change in inner-city population density between 1956 and 2006 in Canada can be explained by freeways. This research examines changes in inner-city densities in over 200 census tracts in the eight inner-cities of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Victoria. The results show that over a fifty year period, inner-city population densities declined in 74% of the census tracts. The census tracts where densities declined strongly were overwhelmingly located within a four-kilometre distance from freeways, a threshold identified by the present study. Beyond the four-kilometre threshold, a pattern is observed where census tracts at a moderate distance from freeways gained in population density and those further away from freeways lost. Additionally, aggregate inner-city population densities declined in four cities, barely increased in two, however rose in Vancouver and Victoria, where urban freeways were close to non-existent or not as prevalent. These findings contribute to our understanding of why freeways should not be built in areas where higher densities are desired. The study also contributes to the existing debate on the causes of decline in central city population.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Geography, Planning and Environment
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Mehreen, Rushdia
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M. Sc.
Program:Geography, Urban & Environmental Studies
Date:6 September 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Townsend, Craig and Jaeger, Jochen
Keywords:Population density, land use, sprawl, freeways, sustainability
ID Code:978258
Deposited By: RUSHDIA MEHREEN
Deposited On:22 Sep 2014 12:10
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46

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