Queen’s University study shows slowing suburban sprawl across the Prairies

Canada is a suburban country, according to a study recently published by Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Even in prairie cities like Saskatoon and Regina, more than 70 percent of residents live in suburban neighborhoods, but recent data shows that trend is slowing.

“It was a big surprise to a lot of people,” said Professor David Gordon, one of the co-authors of the Atlas of Canadian Suburbs.

“Many see Canada as an urbanized nation, but our study shows that people prefer living in the suburbs far and wide. 78.4 percent of Canadians live in a neighborhood that can be cla*sified as a suburb.

A map of Regina showing urban areas in dark green, suburbs in yellow, and suburbs with active transit use in light green.

Atlas of Canadian Suburbs 2023

Gordon explained that suburbs are both affordable and often livable. Owning your own home with land is very appealing to Canadians.

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The study shows that, for the first time, suburban development has slowed in the past five years. According to Gordon, this is a good thing.

“No one is suggesting we should ever build more suburbs, but they have significant drawbacks and we need to improve their construction,” Gordon said.

“Otherwise, this way of life will not be sustainable. »

Gordon explained that suburbs are very expensive to maintain, have a higher environmental impact and limit mobility. According to him, new developments should adopt more sustainable approaches.

“Saskatoon is doing well on that front. Developments like Kensington, Stonebridge and Evergreen have higher density and place much less strain on existing infrastructure. »

Suburban development may have slowed in Regina and Saskatoon, but it remains by far the most prevalent way of life. 81.8 percent of Regina residents live in a suburban neighborhood, while 71.1 percent of Saskatoon residents live in the suburbs.

A map of Saskatoon showing urban areas in dark green, suburbs in yellow, and suburbs with active transit use in light green.

Atlas of Canadian Suburbs 2023

The study developed an interactive map to show where the urban and suburban areas of cities are. This has shown that people living near a good public transit line are much more likely to use it and lead more active lives.

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“We are very grateful for this map which allows us to compare our research with satellite maps. It would take years to demonstrate this correlation between more mobile suburbs and major transit lines,” Gordon said. “It’s very obvious if you look at the CTrain in Calgary or the Skytrain in Vancouver.”

By focusing more on repairing suburban sprawl, walkable neighborhoods and smarter suburban design, Gordon believes the Canadian way of life can become sustainable.

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