Canada’s largest cities have far less population density than their global peers and have room to grow according to a new study.

The Fraser Institute says that our cities have scope to increase housing supply to tackle the affordability crunch, especially in Toronto and Vancouver.

“Compared to their international peers, Canadian cities have much lower levels of density, and thus an ability to expand the supply of housing,” said Josef Filipowicz, senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Municipal Studies and author of ‘Room To Grow: Comparing Urban Density in Canada and Abroad.’

The study of 30 cities reveals that even Vancouver, which is Canada’s most densely populated city (5,493 people per square kilometre), falls midway in the league table (13th). San Francisco by comparison, has 7,171 people per sq. km.

Toronto has 4,457 people per sq. km, which puts it well below Philadelphia (4,512), Chicago (4,594) and Boston (5,376).

Toronto’s population would have to grow 300% to come close to the population of Brooklyn (15,541) and has a long way to reach the density of international peers London (11,054) or Paris (21,067).

While residents may not always welcome densification of their cities, Filipowicz says that the experience of other cities is interesting.

“Canadian cities can become significantly more dense, and possibly more affordable, without sacrificing living standards,” Filipowicz said. “Some of the most desirable, liveable cities in the world have much higher population densities than Canada’s biggest cities.”

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