The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is a metropolitan area in Canada. At the 2011 census, the census metropolitan area had a population of 5,583,064. The Greater Toronto Area is defined as the central city of Toronto, and the four regional municipalities that surround it: Durham, Halton, Peel, and York.
The Greater Toronto Area is different from the Census Metropolitan Area of Toronto, which covers a smaller region. As of early 21st century, the regional span of the Greater Toronto Area is sometimes extended to include the city of Hamilton, Ontario and its surrounding region, to form the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, an urban area that has a total population ranked near the top 50 in the world.
The term Greater Toronto has been used in writing as early as the 1900s, although at the time, the term only referred to the former City of Toronto and its immediate townships and villages, which became Metropolitan Toronto in 1954 and became the current city of Toronto in 1998. The usage of the term involving the four regional municipalities came into formal use in the mid-1980s, after it was used in a widely discussed report on municipal governance restructuring in the region and was later made official as a provincial planning area. However it did not come into everyday usage until the mid- to late 1990s. In 2006, the term began to be supplanted in the field of spatial planning as provincial policy increasingly began to refer to either the "Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area" (GTHA) or the still-broader "Greater Golden Horseshoe". The latter includes communities like Barrie, Guelph and the Niagara Region. The GTA continues, however, to be in official use elsewhere in the Government of Ontario, such as the Ministry of Finance.
Census metropolitan area
Some municipalities that are considered part of the GTA are not within Toronto's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) whose land area (5,904 km² in 2006) and population (5,583,064 as of the 2011 census) is thus smaller than the land area and population of the GTA planning area. For example, Oshawa, which is the centre of its own CMA, or Burlington, which is included in the Hamilton CMA are both deemed part of the Greater Toronto Area. Other municipalities, such as New Tecumseth in southern Simcoe County and Mono Township in Dufferin County are included in the Toronto CMA but not in the GTA. These different border configurations result in the GTA's population being higher than the Toronto CMA by nearly one-half million people, often leading to confusion amongst people when trying to sort out the urban population of Toronto.
Other nearby urban areas, such as Hamilton, Barrie or St. Catharines-Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo, are not part of the GTA or the Toronto CMA, but form their own CMAs that are in fairly close proximity to the GTA. Ultimately, all the aforementioned places are part of the Golden Horseshoe metropolitan region, an urban agglomeration, which is the fifth most populous in North America. When the Hamilton, Oshawa and Toronto CMAs are agglomerated with Brock and Scugog, they have a population of 6,170,072. It is part of the Great Lakes Megalopolis, containing an estimated 54 million people.
The Greater Toronto Area was home to a number of First Nations groups who lived on the shore of Lake Ontario long before the first Europeans arrived in the region. At various times the Neutral, Seneca, Mohawk and Huron nations were living in the vicinity of the region. The Mississaugas arrived in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, driving out the occupying Iroquois. While it is unclear as to who was the first European to reach the Toronto area, there is no question that it occurred in the 17th century.
The area would later become very crucial for its series of trails and water routes that led from northern and western Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the "Toronto Passage", it followed the Humber River, as an important overland shortcut between Lake Ontario, Lake Simcoe and the upper Great Lakes. For this reason area became a hot spot for French fur traders. The French would later establish two trading forts, Magasin Royale in the 1720s, although abandoned within the decade and Fort Rouillé in the 1750s, which would later be burnt down and abandoned in 1759 by the French garrison, who were retreating from invading British forces.
The first large influx of European settlers to settle the region were the United Empire Loyalists arriving after the American Revolution, when various individuals petitioned the Crown for land in and around the Toronto area. In 1787, the British negotiated the purchase of more than a quarter million acres (1,000 km²) of land in the area of Toronto with the Mississaugas of New Credit. York County, would later be created by Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1792, which would at its largest size, comprise all of what is now Halton Region, Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and parts of the current Durham Regional Municipality. The Town of York (present day Toronto) would later be attacked by American forces in the War of 1812 in what is now known as the Battle of York, in 1813. In 1816, Wentworth County and Halton County were created from York County. York County would later serve as the setting for the beginnings of the Upper Canada Rebellion with William Lyon Mackenzie's armed march from Holland Landing towards York Township on Yonge Street, eventually leading up to the battle at Montgomery's Tavern. In 1851, Ontario County and Peel County were separated from York.
The idea towards a streamlined local government to control local infrastructure was made as early as 1907 by member of federal Parliament, and founder of the Toronto Globe, William Findlay Maclean, who called for the expansion of the government of the former City of Toronto in order to create a Greater Toronto. The idea for a single government municipality would not be seriously explored until the late 1940s when planners decided that the city needed to incorporate its immediate suburbs. However due to strong opposition from suburban politicians, a compromise was struck which resulted in the creation of Metropolitan Toronto. In 1953, the portion of York County south of Steeles Avenue, a concession road and township boundary, was severed from the county and incorporated as the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. With the concession of Metro Toronto, the offices of York County were moved from Toronto to Newmarket.
Originally, the membership in Metropolitan Toronto included the former City of Toronto and five townships: East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York; as well as seven villages and towns, which became amalgamated into their surrounding townships in 1967. The early Metro Toronto government debated over the annexation of surrounding townships of Markham, Pickering and Vaughan. The first Metro Toronto Chairman, Frederick Goldwin Gardiner planned on the conversion of these townships into boroughs of the Metro Toronto government. In 1971, the remaining areas of York County was replaced by the Ontario government with the Regional Municipality of York. In 1980, North York would be incorporated into a city, with York following suit in 1983 and Etobicoke and Scarborough in 1984, although still part of the Metropolitan Toronto Municipal Government.
In 1992, the Ontario government passed legislation requiring Metropolitan Toronto to include the rest of the Greater Toronto Area into its planning. Despite this however, there was fear that different parts of the municipal system were working against one another and because of this, Bob Rae, then the Premier of Ontario, appointed Anne Golden to head a GTA task force to govern the region's quality of life, competitiveness and governance. During this time, the Metro Toronto government advocated to the task force the creation of a new GTA authority, which would be made up of 21 of the 30 existing municipalities in the GTA at the time. The proposal from Metro Toronto would have resulted in 15 new municipalities. The City of Mississauga argued that consolidation should only take place in such a way that the new municipalities would have a population between 400,000 to 800,000. The Town of Markham had similarly advocated municipal consolidation in York Region, although it was opposed to complete consolidation into a single municipality. Municipal consolidation faced stiff opposition however from smaller communities such as Ajax, Milton, and the borough of East York. The incoming government of Mike Harris would later act on the recommendation of the task force with the elimination of Metro Toronto, consolidating the remaining municipalities into the new City of Toronto. The task force's recommendations towards a GTA-tier municipality however were not acted upon by the Harris government, as it similarly resembled the former Metro Toronto government.
The Greater Toronto Area covers a total area of 7,125 km2 (2,751 sq mi). The region itself is bordered by Lake Ontario to the south, Kawartha lakes to the east, the Niagara Escarpment to the west, and Lake Simcoe to the north. The region creates a natural ecosystem known as the Greater Toronto Bioregion.
Vast parts of the region remain farmland and forests, making it one of the distinctive features of the geography of the GTA. Most of the urban areas in the GTA holds large urban forest. For the most part designated as parkland, the ravines are largely undeveloped. Rouge Park is also one of the largest nature parks within the core of a metropolitan area. Much of these areas also constitute the Toronto ravine system, and a number of conservation areas in the region which are managed by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
In 2005, the Government of Ontario also passed legislation to prevent urban development and sprawl on environmentally sensitive land in the Greater Toronto Area, known as the Greenbelt, many of these areas including protected sections of the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park and the Niagara Escarpment. Nevertheless, low-density suburban developments continue to be built, some on or near ecologically sensitive and protected areas. The provincial government has recently attempted to address this issue through the "Places to Grow" legislation passed in 2005, which emphasizes higher-density growth in existing urban centres over the next 25 years.
The Greater Toronto Area is classified as a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa/Dfb), according to the Köppen climate classification. Summers are warm and humid while winters are cold and somewhat dry.
The Greater Toronto Area is a commercial, distribution, financial and economic centre, being the third largest financial centre in North America. The region as a whole generates about a fifth of the GDP of Canada, and is home to 40% of Canada's business headquarters. The economies of the municipalities in Greater Toronto themselves are largely intertwined with one another. The work force is made up of approximately 2.9 million people and more than 100,000 companies The Greater Toronto Area currently produces nearly 20% of the entire nation's GDP with $323 Billion, and from 1992 to 2002, experienced an average GDP growth rate of 4.0% and a job creation rate of 2.4% (compared to the national average GDP growth rate of 3% and job creation rate of 1.6%). Currently, over 51% of the labour force in the Greater Toronto Area is employed in the service sector, with 19% in the manufacturing, 17% of the labour force employed in wholesale & retail trade, 8% of the labour force involved in transportation, communication &utilities, and 5% of the workforce is involved in construction. Despite the fact that the service industry makes up only 51% of Greater Toronto's workforce, over 72% of the region's GDP is generated by service industries.
The largest industry in the Greater Toronto Area is the financial services in the province, accounting for an estimated 25% of the region's GDP. Notably, the five largest banks in Canada all have their operational headquarters located in Toronto's Financial District. Toronto is also where the headquarters of the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Standard and Poor TSX Composite Index are located, with offices of the TSX Venture Exchange also located in Toronto. The TMX Group, the owners and operators of TSX Exchanges as well as the Montreal Exchange are also headquartered in Toronto. The TSX and the TSX Venture Exchange represent 3,369 companies, including more than half of the world’s publicly traded mining companies.
Markham also attracted the highest concentration of high tech companies in Canada, and because of it, has positioned itself as Canada's High-Tech Capital. The Greater Toronto Area is currently the second largest automotive centre in North America (after Detroit). Currently, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler run six assembly plants in the area, with Honda and Toyota having assembly plants just outside of the GTA. General Motors, Ford, Honda, KIA, Mazda, Suzuki, Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Subaru, Volvo, BMW, and Mitsubishi have chosen the Greater Toronto Area for their Canadian headquarters. Magna International, the world's most diversified car supplier, also has its headquarters located in Aurora. The entire automobile industry within the region accounts for roughly 10% of the region's GDP.
While it was once the most dominant industry for residents in the Greater Toronto Area, agriculture now occupies a small percentage of the population, but still a large part of land in the surrounding four regional municipalities. Census data from 2006 has shown that there are 3,707 census farms in the GTA, down 4.2% from 2001 and covering 274,363 ha (677,951 acres). Almost every community in the GTA is currently experiencing a decrease in the acreage of farmland, with Mississauga seeing the most significant. The only communities in the GTA which are experiencing a growth in the acreage of farmland are Aurora, Georgina, Newmarket, Oshawa, Richmond Hill and Scugog, with Markham experiencing neither any growth nor decline. Most of the farmland in the GTA is located in Durham Region, with 55% of their total land area being farmland. This is followed by York Region with 41% of their lands being farm land, Peel Region with 34%, and Halton Region with 41%. Toronto's farmland is completely within Rouge Park. The average size of the farm in the GTA (183 acres (0.74 km2)) is much lower than the farms in the rest of Ontario (averaging 233 acres (0.94 km2)). This has been attributed to the shift of farm types in the GTA, shifting from the traditional livestock and cash crop farms (requiring an extensive land base), towards more intensive enterprises including greenhouse, floriculture, nursery, vegetable, fruit, sheep and goats.
The most numerous farms types however in the GTA is miscellaneous specialty farms (including horse and pony, sheep and lamb, and other livestock specialty), followed by cattle, grain and oilseed, dairy and field crop farms. Although the output of dairy production has dropped with farms from within the GTA, dairy has remained the most productive sector in the agricultural industry by annual gross farm receipts. Despite the decreased amount of farmland around the region, farm capital value increased from $5.2 billion in 1996 to $6.1 billion in 2001, making the average farm capital value in the GTA continued to be the highest in the province.
There are a number of public transportation operators within the Greater Toronto Area, providing services within their jurisdictions. While these operators are largely independent, provisions are being made to integrate them under Metrolinx, which manages transportation planning including public transport in both the GTA and Hamilton. GO Transit, which recently merged with Metrolinx, is the Ontario's only intra-regional public transit service, linking the communities in the GTA and the city of Hamilton. Implementation of a 'Presto card' by Metrolinx has created a common means for all fare payments and allow for seamless connection between these and other transit operators.
Public transit operators in the GTA include Brampton Transit, Burlington Transit, Durham Region Transit, GO Transit, Milton Transit, MiWay (serving Mississauga), Oakville Transit, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and York Region Transit.
The GTA also has the largest and busiest freeway network in Canada, consisting of the King's Highways and supplemented by municipal expressways. One of the most principal highways in the GTA, Highway 401 is also longest in Ontario and is also one of the busiest highways in the world. Notably, a segment of the highway passing through the GTA holds the distinction of being the North America's busiest highway. The GTA is laced with a number of limited-access highways, including the 400-series highways. These include:
The main airport serving the GTA is Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, which is Canada's largest and busiest airport. It processed over 33 million passengers in 2011 and nearly 35 million passengers in 2012. Toronto Pearson International Airport is operated by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), and could potentially be asked to help observe in the operations of the other airports in the area, but has yet to be asked to do so. John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in nearby Hamilton also handles international flights handles some discount flights and charters and acts as an alternate to Pearson. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island is used for civil aviation, air ambulance traffic and regional scheduled airlines. YTO is a multiple airport code that works for Pearson, City Centre, and Buttonville Municipal Airport (located in Markham). There are also a number of smaller airports which are scattered throughout the GTA.
The Greater Toronto Airport Authority has also placed a tentative proposal to develop a new airport in Pickering (which also spills over into Markham and Uxbridge). As the GTAA predicts that Toronto Pearson would be unable to indefinitely be the sole provider for the bulk of Toronto's commercial air traffic in the next 20 years, they believe that a new airport in Pickering would address the need for a regional/reliever airport east of Toronto Pearson, as well as complement the airport in Hamilton, Ontario. The GTAA also stated that the new airport would create more opportunities for economic development in the eastern region of the Greater Toronto Area.
The Greater Toronto Area is served by seven distinct telephone area codes. Before 1993, the GTA used the 416 area code. In a 1993 zone split, Metropolitan Toronto retained the 416 code, while the other municipalities of the Greater Toronto Area were assigned the new area code 905. This division by area code has become part of the local culture to the point where local media refer to something inside Toronto as "the 416" and outside of Toronto as "the 905". Though for the most part this was correct, it is not entirely true as some portions of Durham and York Regions use the 705 area code. Furthermore, there are areas, such as Hamilton, the Regional Municipality of Niagara and Port Hope that use the 905 area code, but are not part of the GTA. The unincorporated community of Acton (located in Halton Hills), is the only community in the GTA that is covered under the area codes 519 and 226, the area code which covers most of Southwestern Ontario.
To meet the increased demand for phone numbers, two overlay area codes were introduced in 2001. Area code 647 (supplementing the 416 area code) was introduced in March 2001 and area code 289 (supplementing the 905 area code) was introduced in July 2001. Some individuals within the 905 area code region may have to dial long distance to reach each other; although residents of Mississauga and Hamilton share the same area code (905), an individual from Toronto, for example, would have to dial "1" to reach Hamilton, but not to reach Mississauga. Ten-digit telephone dialling, including the area code for local calls, is required throughout the GTA. In March 2013, two additional area codes will be introduced to the GTA: area code 437 in Toronto, and area code 365 in the area currently served by 905 and 289.
The Greater Toronto Area is currently represented by 47 Members of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons. Forty six Members of Provincial Parliament also represent the GTA in the Ontario Legislature. Five Senators from Ontario have also designated themselves as representatives of certain areas in the GTA in the Canadian Senate.
Federally, the Conservatives, Liberals, and the New Democrats all hold several electoral districts in the GTA. The City of Toronto has often been supportive of the Liberal Party. Traditionally, Liberal support is strongest in Downtown Toronto, while Conservative support is stronger in the surrounding communities outside Toronto. The NDP also has a strong base within the GTA.
From 1993 to 2004, a centre-right party failed to win a single seat in the former Metro Toronto. In the 2011 election, this trend turned around completely, where the political leanings of Toronto began to shift to mirror the surround communities that had been more likely to lean towards the Conservative party in their voting patterns.
The election of 2011 indicated that Liberal support, based on votes in the GTA, had collapsed from 43.7% to 19.8%, giving the Liberals only 14.9% of the local seats in the House of Commons. However, the support of the Conservatives and NDP increased accordingly, with the Conservatives increasing their vote share from 31.5% to 48.7% (and capturing 68.1% of the GTA seats) and the NDP increasing from 14.6% to 30.2% of the vote and 17% of the local Federal ridings.
|Federal Elections in the GTA||2000||2004||2006||2008||2011|
On the provincial level of government, the Conservatives, Liberals, and the New Democrats all hold electoral districts in the GTA. McGuinty's Ontario Liberal Party has enjoyed strong support from the region in the past three elections, with the Liberals currently holding 33 of the 44 available seats in the GTA. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has not been elected in a Toronto riding since 1999. The surrounding municipalities of Toronto however have in the past supported the Progressive Conservative party, with the election of Harris's government in the 1990s' largely attributed to his support base in the suburban "905" region. During his time in office, many provincial services were transferred to the municipal governments, which caused great financial strain on Toronto.
Currently 244 politicians govern the Greater Toronto Area below the provincial and federal levels, holding offices in cities, towns, and regional municipalities. Unusual for a large North American urban agglomeration, the GTA has very few agencies with powers that can cross boundaries. Attempts to create an interregional organization have been made, such as the Province of Ontario's Office of the Greater Toronto Area (OGTA) in 1988 and the Greater Toronto Services Board (GTSB) in 1998, but have failed due to a lack of real authority in these agencies.
Consequently there are few interregional public authorities: Metrolinx, an agency of the provincial government, manages the GTA-wide GO Transit system, while the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, manages watersheds and natural areas. Notably, there is no organization with broad powers as in other Canadian cities, such as the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, and Metro Vancouver.
According to the latest census data from 2011 from Statistics Canada, the population of this area is 6,054,191. Population growth studies have projected the City of Toronto's population in 2031 to be 3,000,000 and the Greater Toronto Area's population to be 7,450,000, while the Ontario Ministry of Finance states that it could reach 7.7 million by 2025. Statistics Canada identified in 2001 that four major urban regions in Canada exhibited a cluster pattern of concentrated population growth among which included the Greater Golden Horseshoe Census Region, which includes all of the Greater Toronto Area (which includes Oshawa), as well as other Southern Ontario cities including Niagara, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo and Barrie. Combined, the Greater Golden Horseshoe has a population of 8,116,000 in 2006, containing approximately 25% of Canada's population.
The Toronto CMA also has the largest proportions of foreign-born residents (46%) as a share of the total population out of all metropolitan areas in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Toronto region is also unusually diverse over the composition of its ethnicities. The four largest foreign born populations of Toronto only constitute 15% of the total foreign-born population. This is opposed to the four largest foreign born populations of other metropolitan areas such as New York and London, where they make up 25% of their respective foreign-born populations.
Statistics Canada also found that in 2006, there were 31,910 Aboriginal people living in the Greater Toronto Area, which represented 2.7 per cent of all Aboriginal persons in Canada and 13.2 per cent of those in Ontario. The majority of which however are not registered with the Indian reserves within the Greater Toronto Area, the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and the Mississaugas of Scugog Island.
|Name||Total area (km²)||Population||Density|
|Province of Ontario||1,076,395 km²||12,851,821||14.1 / km²|
|City of Toronto||630 km²||2,615,060||4,149.5/ km²|
|Regional Municipality of Durham||2,523.15 km²||608,124||241.0/ km²|
|Regional Municipality of Peel||1,241.99 km²||1,296,814||1,040.0/ km²|
|Regional Municipality of York||1,761.84 km²||1,032,524||585.9/ km²|
|Regional Municipality of Halton||967.17 km²||501,669||520.4/ km²|
|Greater Toronto Area||7124.15 km²||6,054,191||850.0/ km²|
Education in the Greater Toronto Area is currently managed by the provincial Ministry of Education (Ontario), who manages preschool, elementary and secondary education, while the provincial Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is responsible for administration of laws relating to postsecondary education and skills training. There are currently 12 school boards located in the GTA, each region operating a secular English school board and English Catholic school board. The entire GTA is also under the jurisdiction of a secular French school board and a French Catholic school board. The Peel Region's Catholic school board also holds jurisdiction over Dufferin County, which is outside of the GTA.
|School boards in the Greater Toronto Area|
|Region||Durham Region||Halton Region||Peel Region||City of Toronto||York Region|
|English Secular||Durham District School Board||Halton District School Board||Peel District School Board||Toronto District School Board||York Region District School Board|
|English Catholic||Durham Catholic District School Board||Halton Catholic District School Board||Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board||Toronto Catholic District School Board||York Catholic District School Board|
|French Secular||Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest|
|French Catholic||Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud|
The Greater Toronto Area is home to five publicly funded universities, some of which are well known and respected throughout the world. There also are eleven private religious universities spread throughout the GTA. The five public degree-granting institutions are:
- OCAD University (Toronto)
- Ryerson University (Toronto)
- University of Toronto (Toronto)
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Oshawa)
- York University (Toronto)
- Glendon College (Toronto)
Three universities based outside of the GTA operate satellite campuses within the GTA, including McMaster University, Trent University, and the University of Guelph. The Ron Joyce Centre, located in Burlington is a 4.5-acre (0.018 km2) site mainly used by the McMaster's DeGroote School of Business. Trent University also operates a satellite campus in Oshawa, known as Trent in Oshawa. Guelph's Humber Campus is located in Etobicoke, Toronto.
- Centennial College (Toronto)
- Durham College (Brock, Cobourg, Port Hope, Scugog, Oshawa, Uxbridge)
- George Brown College (Toronto)
- Humber College (Toronto)
- Seneca College (King, Markham, Newmarket, Toronto)
- Sheridan College (Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville)
There are also a number of private career colleges spread throughout the Greater Toronto.
- Golden Horseshoe
- Great Lakes Megalopolis
- Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- Greater Toronto Hockey League
- Greening Greater Toronto
- Toronto Region Research Alliance
- ^a – Adopters include the regional transportation planning body Metrolinx, the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and the Regional Municipality of Halton.
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