Tower Renewal Blog

Active City: New Report on Toronto Neighbourhoods


Recently Toronto Public Health released a new “Active City” report, which analyzes Toronto neighbourhoods based on the opportunities for physical activity they provide, and makes a series of recommendations for expanding opportunities for more active and healthy lifestyles across the city.

This report is part of the Healthy Toronto by Design series that includes our report Toward Healthy Apartment Neighbourhoods (2012).

Both reports use extensive city-wide mapping to showcase trends, challenges and opportunities in regards to urban planning and community health. Two of these maps stand out: The diabetes map, overlaid with Toronto’s Apartment towers for the 2012 report, and the new Activity Friendly Index map, created for the new Active City Report.

Using the towers database and base data from our friends at Toronto Public Health, we overlaid Apartment Towers atop the Activity Friendly Index Map, to create a pair with the Diabetes Map.

Interesting trends appear:

1) As anticipated, many tower clusters existing within ‘low’ activity areas contain a higher incidence of diabetes; and

2) Many tower clusters existing within ‘high’ activity areas, generally along transit routes or downtown, contain a lower incidence of diabetes;

3) But surprisingly, many inner suburban tower clusters existing within ‘medium’ or even ‘high’ activity areas persist in containing a higher incidence of diabetes.

An analysis of only these two factors illustrates that despite their similarity in built form, there is diversity and heterogeneity in our Tower Neighbourhoods, particularly in regards to community health.

Meaningful solutions toward healthier Apartment Neighbourhoods will require thoughtful and site-specific responses, particularly for the hundreds of sites located within ‘Low’ Activity Areas.

Yet as many Apartment Communities already score ‘High’ on the Activity Friendly Index, a solid foundation is already there. New tools such as the RAC Zone could prove key within these areas in unlocking opportunities for better served and more active neighbourhoods, and aide in their emerging as more ‘complete’, sustainable and healthy places.