Gentrification and change in canadian metropolitan areas

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Dwelling Tenure, Type and Age

Gentrification has commonly been associated with household tenure transitions from rental to homeownership (Millard-Ball 2000, 1673, Wyly and Hammel 1999). In the gentrifying tracts of the 10 Canadian CMAs, the total number of homeowners increased more (18.4 percent increase) than it increased for renters (13.9 percent). These statistics compare to a 64.9 percent increase in owners and 24.2 percent increase in renters in the other tracts. However, there are variations across the CMAs. The gentrifying tracts in Vancouver, Regina, Toronto, Kingston and Quebec City have a larger percentage increase in renters compared to owners. In the Vancouver’s gentrifying neighbourhoods, the count of occupied rental units increased by 38.5 percent compared to 22.4 percent for owner occupied dwellings. These results may show that renters form a major component of the demand for housing in gentrifying neighbourhoods and suggest that gentrification offers substantial opportunities for investors and landlords.8

The distribution of dwelling types within each of the three categories of census tracts remained fairly consistent between the1981 and 2001 censuses. However, differences are recorded across the different types of tracts: single-detached units account for a quarter of the occupied housing in the potentially gentrifying tracts while other tracts have almost twice this proportion. The other dwelling unit type accounts for two-thirds of the dwelling units in the potentially gentrifying tracts compared to about 40 percent in the other tracts. Gentrifying tracts have a much lower share of single-detached units (16 percent) compared to the potentially gentrifying tracts (29 percent). Gentrifying tracts have a greater mix of dwelling units than the other census tracts.

The potentially gentrifying tracts have a much higher proportion of dwellings built before 1946 than the other tracts on account of the method used to select them: 51 percent and 13 percent respectively for 2001. The gentrifying tracts have a higher proportion of older dwellings than the potentially gentrifying tracts in both 1981 and 2001. Although both classes of tracts had a declining number of older dwellings between 1981 and 2001, the decrease was smaller for the gentrifying tracts. For example, the remaining potentially gentrifying tracts share of older dwellings units declined from 63 percent in 1981 to below 50 percent in 2001, while the proportion of older dwellings in the gentrifying tracts decreased from 66 percent to 55 percent in 2001. The gentrifying tracts retained a higher proportion of older dwellings due to renovation and upgrading by the incoming higher-income households. The proportion of dwellings requiring major repair was the same (12 percent) for gentrifying and potentially gentrifying neighbourhoods and higher than in the other tracts (8 percent).

Demographic Characteristics

Gentrification results in the changing demographic composition of neighbourhoods. In 2001, the gentrifying tracts had the smallest households (2.1) compared to the remaining potentially gentrifying tracts (2.3) and all other census tracts (2.5). Moreover, the decline in the average persons per households was the greatest for the gentrifying tracts. Related to this decline in the average persons per household is the increasing proportion of single-person households living in gentrifying tracts, 32 percent in 1981 to 42 percent in 2001. This increase in single-person households is also higher than the increase in the remaining potentially gentrifying tracts and other tracts, increases of 9 and 7 percent respectively over the same time period.

Both the potentially gentrifying and the gentrifying tracts have declining proportions of family households and large increases in the proportion of non-family households. Family households declined by 25 percent in the gentrifying tracts of the 10 CMAs while increasing by 19.6 percent in the other tracts over the 20-year period. Non-family households increased by 76.8 percent between 1981 and 2001 in the gentrified tracts and by 120.0 percent in the other tracts. Most of the CMAs’ growth takes place in the either tracts and in some cases beyond their 1981 metropolitan area boundaries.9 Only the potential and gentrified tracts in Vancouver increased the number of family households. The number of non-family households more than doubled in the gentrifying tracts of Toronto (128.2 percent increase) and Quebec City (108.3 percent) gentrifying. The potentially gentrifying tracts in Halifax, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver also doubled in their number of non-family households.

Gentrifying tracts increased their proportion of people between 25 to 39 years of age from 24 to 32 percent during the 20 year period. A similar change was found for the potentially gentrifying tracts but the proportion of young people in the other tracts decreased from 25 to 23 percent. The potentially gentrifying tracts gained people with university degrees from 10 to 28 percent compared to 16 to 23 percent in the other tracts. The proportion of households that had moved increased from 53 to 56 percent in gentrifying tracts between 1981 and 2001 while the other tracts saw a decline from 51 to 45 percent and the difference is significant at the .05 probability level.

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