University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Spring 2012

Elderburbia

A term for Canada's growing population of senior citizens

real estate

Don Mills, Canada’s first planned community, was the place to be if you were young and starting a family in Toronto in the early 1960s: lots of three- and four-bedroom homes, plenty of schools and ample parkland. Fifty years later, the kids have moved away, schools have closed and those young parents are now all senior citizens.

It’s an increasingly common scenario that has significant implications for services such as schools, health care and snow removal, says geography professor Andre Sorensen. It also points up problems with old ways of planning. In the “new urbanism,” which emerged in the 1980s, a wider range of housing types is encouraged – family homes, apartment buildings, townhouses and rental units – to attract mixed demographics. Of course, with the population aging, by 2040 much of Canada may be “elderburbia,” no matter how communities are planned.

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