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View Poll Results: Urban Cohesion/contiguous walkable expanse: Montreal vs Toronto
Montreal 11 64.71%
Toronto 6 35.29%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-26-2015, 08:07 PM
 
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I'd say they come out about the same
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Old 07-26-2015, 11:19 PM
 
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I think Montreal. Montreal's infrastructure is known for being relatively similar to Europe with taller buildings and houses even in the suburbs, similar to London for example. Toronto has this but only in the centre of the suburbs like up in North York, Mississauga, Inner city neighborhoods like Younge-Eglinton, etc. But the rest is a just a lot of average houses, which Montreal also has but it still isn't as suburban as Toronto. Montreal builds up while Toronto builds more out.
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Old 07-26-2015, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GM10 View Post
I think Montreal. Montreal's infrastructure is known for being relatively similar to Europe with taller buildings and houses even in the suburbs, similar to London for example. Toronto has this but only in the centre of the suburbs like up in North York, Mississauga, Inner city neighborhoods like Younge-Eglinton, etc. But the rest is a just a lot of average houses, which Montreal also has but it still isn't as suburban as Toronto. Montreal builds up while Toronto builds more out.
This post and particularly in red doesn't make much sense at all especially since Toronto has been building up and out for decades now - but by and large in the last decade especially more up and more so up than any other city in the western world up until a few months ago when NYC regained the title..

Its one thing to say Montreal has more urban cohesion - fair enough its a smaller metro than Toronto and is certainly a lot more compact so it doesn't have nearly the suburban and exurban sprawl as the GTA (It hasn't grown by 3 million in the last 40 years like the GTA has either, its only grown by 1 million in the same timeframe) and the city is older.. With that said, you are saying what exactly about Montreal having taller buildings and more built up where exactly? Toronto's mid-rise and high-rise density eclipses Montreal easily - in the DT core, outside the core in the city proper not just in a few nodal bunches and also in the cities outside the metro in the GTA.. I'd say Montreal has more density when it comes to residences under 5 stories vs Toronto's residences under 5 stories only and most probably only within the city proper of each - which would be row-house type density but its simply not enough to make it the more dense city vs Toronto's onslaught of mid to high rise infil and the gap between the two is ever more widening in Toronto's favour.. Toronto city proper simply hasn't been building low density infil for the most part in over a decade and the places to grow act put the nail in the coffin to more suburban sprawl in 2005. Next years census will summarily put the density argument to rest all across the board wherever it will be measured..

Toronto (just the city proper) is ranked number 15 in the world for number of highrises and has more than 4X the number of highrises than Montreal.. These buildings are all over the city proper.. Outside the city proper and within the GTA, Mississauga alone has half the highrise buildings as Montreal itself and its practically a satellite of Toronto..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...rise_buildings

Even when taking all of the GTA's sprawl into account - it is still the more densely populated urban area as per demographia's 2015 list of worlds largest urbanized areas... Compare the density of Montreal Urban Area vs Toronto Urban area.

Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Kensington View Post
I'd say they come out about the same
I would agree - I think people vote Montreal because it is smaller and more compact so it appears that its 'urban' area (whatever the definition of that is - the more 'European' looking the more urban by default, I dunno) is more cohesive though Toronto's 'urban' area is probably about the same in terms of area assuming we dismiss more suburban type infil which isn't necessarily a fair argument imo.. Let's make no mistake either, suburban type infil makes up a large area and population of both these cities urbanized areas.

Last edited by Yac; 08-04-2015 at 07:35 AM..
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Old 07-27-2015, 02:40 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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It's not clear cut at all. You could probably find an area of Montreal that's 800,000 in 98km2 and that's including Mont Royal and industrial areas around Pointe St Charles. I already got 776k in 98km2 for the old city limits minus Ahuntsic and Mercier, plus Outremont and most of Verdun.

I'm pretty familiar with both cities, I've gone on bike rides all over Toronto, and have family in Montreal I visit at least once a year, and have recently gone on long walks to explore that city - did a 15km and a 20km walk when I went most recently a few weeks ago.

I would say that the west end of Toronto is definitely quite urban, and the downtown edges out Montreal. North Toronto and the east end are more mixed, they've got some parts that are urban but others that are relatively suburban.

Montreal's multi-plex neighbourhoods (they're not really "row houses", more like "row plexes") can be pretty urban. That's especially true for the inner Plateau and Mile End areas around St Denis/St Laurent which are comparable to the Entertainment District in vibrancy. There, pretty much every other street has businesses like bars, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, boutiques... Lots of night-life in the inner Plateau when I was there on Saturday night.

However, I also found that not all neighbourhoods with similar residential building form are equally vibrant. Going into Rosemont for example, you still have "commercial streets" at regular intervals but many of them are more start and stop retail, mixed with residential ground floors. Streets also get a bit wider which you don't really see in Toronto until you get to the suburbs. In Old Toronto the commercial streets are further apart from each other, but more continuously lined with retail so they're more bustling.

The other thing about Montreal that's unique is it has what I'd call "dense auto-oriented urban neighbourhoods". These are neighbourhoods that were built largely from about 1945-1965, which would include many parts of Cotes-des-Neiges, St Leonard, St Michel, Parc-X, Montreal Nord and sort of Lasalle. For example, while Cotes-des-Neiges immediately around the subway station is pretty classic urban, the rest is different. You'll have block after block of 3-5 storey apartment complexes without any retail, and then a suburban style suburban shopping centre and next to it what looks like apartment buildings that had the ground floors converted to retail.

Parc-X had an initial building phase in the 1920s, but that was followed by a significantly bigger building boom in the 1945-1970 period that saw the construction of many 3-4 storey wall-to-wall apartment buildings, much like the pre-WWII ones in the plateau, but with plain looking modernist architecture with square shaped windows and none of those exterior stairs. It has a vibrant working class immigrant character that has few comparisons in Toronto. It's not tourist-y like Chinatown, and doesn't cater to hipsters and yuppies like Little Italy or suburbanites from Scarborough like India Bazaar. You've got a mix of Greek, Italians, Arabs, South Asians and West Indians and more long-time Quebeckers too and the retail caters mostly to the locals.

One of the most important roads through Parc-X is Jean Talon, which is a bit of a stroad-y and gritty road along most of it's distance with some warehouse clusters that haven't been converted to lofts yet. Going on Jean Talon you eventually hit Jean-Talon market, it's a farmer's market open every day (or almost?) surrounded by a Kensington-market like concentration of foodie shops, cafes and restaurants. The market is around the boundary of Rosemont and Villeray. Villeray has a ton of corner stores and cafes, but only one solid commercial street - St Hubert. That street is pretty much all clothing stores for a stretch 3km long.

Going further along Jean Talon you get to St Leonard. This area was built up in the 60s with auto-oriented multiplexes and "mixed use strip malls" along Jean Talon. Toronto has these too along street like on Dufferin north of Eglinton, I'm talking about buildings set back from the street for some surface parking, with retail on the ground floor, and 1-2 floors of offices or apartments above. However, in St Leonard, they were built closer to the street so you have only enough space for one row of parking vs typically 3 rows for the Toronto equivalents. In St Leonard, most of this parking seems to have been converted into an expanded pedestrian street-scape, sometimes with restaurant/cafe patios.

As for Downtown, they are have many similarities. There's the kind of seedy areas (Ontario St vs Dundas E), the automobile wastelands (Place Radio Canada/Viger area vs Fleet St area), the big wide institutional corridors (Boul Rene Levesque vs University Ave) and they've got their good parts too, Bloor and Queen vs Sainte Catherine, some near row house blocks turned to retail, the "Kings" vs Vieux Port. It's true Downtown Toronto is much bigger.

I think Downtown Toronto might be better connected with its surroundings though. It's pretty continuously vibrant along Yonge as well as all the major streets west from downtown.

With Montreal, you have a dead-zone separating Griffintown from Downtown. Going towards Westmount/NDG the retail on Sherbrooke and St Catherine stops and you've got a decent chunk with no retail before it picks up again on Sherbrooke. Then you've got the river and Mont Royal. That leaves only the "east" - the Berri-UQAM area. That neighbourhood has suffered quite a bit imo from bad urban planning of earlier decades and has many border vacuums. There's the sterile Boulevard Rene Levesque, Avenue Viger, Berri, Habitat Jeanne Mance, Ave du Parc, Pont Jacques Cartier area... St Denis and St Laurent are still pretty vibrant but that area could still use some stitching together between the Gay Village, Sainte Marie, Old Port, Downtown and Plateau.
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Old 07-27-2015, 02:42 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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In terms of the size of the "bustling area" including areas outside downtown, and the size of the less bustling but still relatively urban area of the city, I'd say the two are very similar.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post

The other thing about Montreal that's unique is it has what I'd call "dense auto-oriented urban neighbourhoods". These are neighbourhoods that were built largely from about 1945-1965, which would include many parts of Cotes-des-Neiges, St Leonard, St Michel, Parc-X, Montreal Nord and sort of Lasalle. For example, while Cotes-des-Neiges immediately around the subway station is pretty classic urban, the rest is different. You'll have block after block of 3-5 storey apartment complexes without any retail, and then a suburban style suburban shopping centre and next to it what looks like apartment buildings that had the ground floors converted to retail.
.
I've noticed this as well but I've never been able to describe it so accurately. These areas of Montreal kind of remind of not-so-attractive modern parts of certain European cities. Like Athens or something. Also modern parts of some Latin American cities.

(A good example of how when we say "European", it's not always a positive.)

BTW, you have an awesome eye for how cities are built. I've always found that.
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Old 07-27-2015, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by memph View Post
It's not clear cut at all. You could probably find an area of Montreal that's 800,000 in 98km2 and that's including Mont Royal and industrial areas around Pointe St Charles. I already got 776k in 98km2 for the old city limits minus Ahuntsic and Mercier, plus Outremont and most of Verdun.

I'm pretty familiar with both cities, I've gone on bike rides all over Toronto, and have family in Montreal I visit at least once a year, and have recently gone on long walks to explore that city - did a 15km and a 20km walk when I went most recently a few weeks ago.

I would say that the west end of Toronto is definitely quite urban, and the downtown edges out Montreal. North Toronto and the east end are more mixed, they've got some parts that are urban but others that are relatively suburban.

Montreal's multi-plex neighbourhoods (they're not really "row houses", more like "row plexes") can be pretty urban. That's especially true for the inner Plateau and Mile End areas around St Denis/St Laurent which are comparable to the Entertainment District in vibrancy. There, pretty much every other street has businesses like bars, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, boutiques... Lots of night-life in the inner Plateau when I was there on Saturday night.

However, I also found that not all neighbourhoods with similar residential building form are equally vibrant. Going into Rosemont for example, you still have "commercial streets" at regular intervals but many of them are more start and stop retail, mixed with residential ground floors. Streets also get a bit wider which you don't really see in Toronto until you get to the suburbs. In Old Toronto the commercial streets are further apart from each other, but more continuously lined with retail so they're more bustling.

The other thing about Montreal that's unique is it has what I'd call "dense auto-oriented urban neighbourhoods". These are neighbourhoods that were built largely from about 1945-1965, which would include many parts of Cotes-des-Neiges, St Leonard, St Michel, Parc-X, Montreal Nord and sort of Lasalle. For example, while Cotes-des-Neiges immediately around the subway station is pretty classic urban, the rest is different. You'll have block after block of 3-5 storey apartment complexes without any retail, and then a suburban style suburban shopping centre and next to it what looks like apartment buildings that had the ground floors converted to retail.

Parc-X had an initial building phase in the 1920s, but that was followed by a significantly bigger building boom in the 1945-1970 period that saw the construction of many 3-4 storey wall-to-wall apartment buildings, much like the pre-WWII ones in the plateau, but with plain looking modernist architecture with square shaped windows and none of those exterior stairs. It has a vibrant working class immigrant character that has few comparisons in Toronto. It's not tourist-y like Chinatown, and doesn't cater to hipsters and yuppies like Little Italy or suburbanites from Scarborough like India Bazaar. You've got a mix of Greek, Italians, Arabs, South Asians and West Indians and more long-time Quebeckers too and the retail caters mostly to the locals.

One of the most important roads through Parc-X is Jean Talon, which is a bit of a stroad-y and gritty road along most of it's distance with some warehouse clusters that haven't been converted to lofts yet. Going on Jean Talon you eventually hit Jean-Talon market, it's a farmer's market open every day (or almost?) surrounded by a Kensington-market like concentration of foodie shops, cafes and restaurants. The market is around the boundary of Rosemont and Villeray. Villeray has a ton of corner stores and cafes, but only one solid commercial street - St Hubert. That street is pretty much all clothing stores for a stretch 3km long.

Going further along Jean Talon you get to St Leonard. This area was built up in the 60s with auto-oriented multiplexes and "mixed use strip malls" along Jean Talon. Toronto has these too along street like on Dufferin north of Eglinton, I'm talking about buildings set back from the street for some surface parking, with retail on the ground floor, and 1-2 floors of offices or apartments above. However, in St Leonard, they were built closer to the street so you have only enough space for one row of parking vs typically 3 rows for the Toronto equivalents. In St Leonard, most of this parking seems to have been converted into an expanded pedestrian street-scape, sometimes with restaurant/cafe patios.

As for Downtown, they are have many similarities. There's the kind of seedy areas (Ontario St vs Dundas E), the automobile wastelands (Place Radio Canada/Viger area vs Fleet St area), the big wide institutional corridors (Boul Rene Levesque vs University Ave) and they've got their good parts too, Bloor and Queen vs Sainte Catherine, some near row house blocks turned to retail, the "Kings" vs Vieux Port. It's true Downtown Toronto is much bigger.

I think Downtown Toronto might be better connected with its surroundings though. It's pretty continuously vibrant along Yonge as well as all the major streets west from downtown.

With Montreal, you have a dead-zone separating Griffintown from Downtown. Going towards Westmount/NDG the retail on Sherbrooke and St Catherine stops and you've got a decent chunk with no retail before it picks up again on Sherbrooke. Then you've got the river and Mont Royal. That leaves only the "east" - the Berri-UQAM area. That neighbourhood has suffered quite a bit imo from bad urban planning of earlier decades and has many border vacuums. There's the sterile Boulevard Rene Levesque, Avenue Viger, Berri, Habitat Jeanne Mance, Ave du Parc, Pont Jacques Cartier area... St Denis and St Laurent are still pretty vibrant but that area could still use some stitching together between the Gay Village, Sainte Marie, Old Port, Downtown and Plateau.
Excellent post and detail!

Just to note, you could probably find areas of Toronto that are 800k in 98 sq km's even using 2011 numbers depending on where in the city you draw from as well.. I tried to keep my assessment based on boroughs as contiguous to Ville Marie as possible and got 721K in 99sq km's but if you say 776 that is fine - its not a huge discrepancy and Toronto would probably give similar numbers. In either case, we are going by 2011 census, Old Toronto has grown quite a bit in that period of time and the densification of the DT core and surrounding areas has been extraordinary in the last 4 years. Aura alone would probably make a dent in the numbers let alone all the other condo's that have been completed and occupied. 2016 should provide more relevant and current data to draw upon. In any event, even though as an urban area Toronto is more dense than Montreal, density isn't the only factor in what makes a place vibrant or cohesive. In the case of either of these cities, it isn't so clear cut as to which has overall greater urban cohesion. This isn't Montreal/Toronto vs Pheonix here.

Last edited by fusion2; 07-27-2015 at 03:52 PM..
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