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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 07-11-2015, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
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So both of these cities are in the same ballpark of population density and Toronto obviously has a substantially larger population, and I'm guessing a larger population living at very high (>50,000 persons per square mile) densities. So, I'm wondering how they compare cohesiveness of walkable areas. So, in which city do have the larger contiguous landmass with near continuous streetwalls, mixed use development, street-facing apartments/rowhomes, mixed-use infrastructure and pedestrian friendly environment?

I've visited both cities a few times each; from what I've experienced, Toronto is a bit more nodal with peaks and quicker drop-offs to single-family home neighborhoods/tower-in-a-park apartments outside of those peaks (this is of course when you're outside the immediate vicinity of the CBD), while Montreal is a bit more cohesive.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:39 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Toronto's urban area is more dense than Montreal's urban area with obviously higher peak densities scroll down the list in the link below (2015 data) to compare - Toronto is ranked 53rd largest and Montreal 121 globally and is demonstrably more dense and the gap will only increase in Toronto's favour due to higher growth rates and insane densification.

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&...t9OdLalyjw2QOg

As for more urban cohesion it depends on how you define that. Both cities sprawl but Toronto sprawls a lot more and as such is the larger urban area by several million people. Now if we are talking the most urban parts of both I'd say they are about equal.. Montreal has more 3-5 story rowhouse type density and obviously Toronto has more highrise/scraper density. Even Toronto's low rise and mid-rise density on leafy green streets in Old Toronto are usually close to very urban mixed use commercial/residential arterials ie QSW, KSW, College, Dundas, Bloor etc etc..

I could see how some would conclude Montreal has more urban cohesion because it is simply a smaller and more compact metro so on that basis than yes - Toronto is just so much larger so the Bramptons/Mississauga's/Vaughan's of the GTA although highly populated, are not exactly good examples of urban cohesion and would naw away an urban argument on the whole for Toronto metro - but Old Toronto vs a comparable area of Montreal's most urban parts - i'd say they are both pretty urban and imo the best examples of urbanity in the country..

Last edited by fusion2; 07-11-2015 at 06:03 PM..
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
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Quote:
Toronto's urban area is more dense than Montreal's urban area with obviously higher peak densities scroll down the list in the link below (2015 data) to compare - Toronto is ranked 53rd largest and Montreal 121 globally and is demonstrably more dense and the gap will only increase in Toronto's favour due to higher growth rates and insane densification.

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&...t9OdLalyjw2QOg

As for more urban cohesion it depends on how you define that. Both cities sprawl but Toronto sprawls a lot more and as such is the larger urban area by several million people. Now if we are talking the most urban parts of both I'd say they are about equal.. Montreal has more 3-5 story rowhouse type density and obviously Toronto has more highrise/scraper density. Even Toronto's low rise and mid-rise density on leafy green streets in Old Toronto are usually close to very urban mixed use commercial/residential arterials ie QSW, KSW, College, Dundas, Bloor etc etc..

I could see how some would conclude Montreal has more urban cohesion because it is simply a smaller and more compact metro so on that basis than yes - Toronto is just so much larger so the Bramptons/Mississauga's/Vaughan's of the GTA although highly populated, are not exactly good examples of urban cohesion and would naw away an urban argument on the whole for Toronto metro - but Old Toronto vs a comparable area of Montreal's most urban parts - i'd say they are both pretty urban and imo the best examples of urbanity in the country..
You make some great points. How would you compare the contiguous square kilometers in Montreal vs Toronto that incredibly pedestrian-friendly (not just easy to walk/get around, but also pleasurable) before there's any break-up by some buffer (park or other municipal facility, for example) or just a transition to more single-family homes and single-use development?

I realize that Toronto has lots of urban nodes away from its contiguous core, and Montreal doesn't have to nearly the same degree. In my experience, once you get past Downtown Montreal, the to the curb rowhouse development continues on for quite a while; correct me if I'm wrong, but even Old Toronto (<5 km from the CBD) there are bungalows similar to what you'll find on Chicago's North Side, while Montreal at that distance outside of the CBD is set up more like South Philly with rowhouses (less grand, but a bit more walkable)

Last edited by bballniket; 07-11-2015 at 07:00 PM.. Reason: had to add a few words
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bballniket View Post
You make some great points. How would you compare the contiguous square kilometers in Montreal vs Toronto that incredibly pedestrian-friendly (not just easy to walk/get around, but also pleasurable) before there's any break-up by some buffer (park or other municipal facility, for example) or just a transition to more single-family homes and single-use development?

I realize that Toronto has lots of urban nodes away from its contiguous core, and Montreal doesn't have to nearly the same degree. In my experience, once you get past Downtown Montreal, the to the curb rowhouse development continues on for quite a while; correct me if I'm wrong, but even Old Toronto (<5 km from the CBD) there are bungalows similar to what you'll find on Chicago's North Side, while Montreal at that distance outside of the CBD is set up more like South Philly with rowhouses (less grand, but a bit more walkable)
I definitely agree about the nodal density in Toronto.. There are probably no areas of Montreal with such nodal density outside its core like countless places in Toronto.. I would say Montreal has more contiguous rowhouse development than Old Toronto.. Old Toronto has quite the balance of highrise, midrise and low rise development. With that said, as I mentioned, even those areas with older low-rise Vics are still very densely packed and many Victorian and Edwardian residences are far from being SFH's.

Next time you're in Old Toronto and see these side streets -note what I said about them almost always being close to major mixed use higher density arterials. You'll also find they are close to parks and these areas are highly ped friendly... Point being - in Old Toronto even if you are in a lower density - low rise area you're never far from more dense rowhouse/mid-rise or high-rise infil.. Toronto is a city of vertical juxtopositions in short order - the city doesn't do contiguous anything like other places!

Kensington Market and the Annex are great examples of what i'm talking about!

https://www.google.ca/search?q=kensi...ed=0CAcQ_AUoAg

https://www.google.ca/search?q=the+a...ShzI_wDA&ved=0

Liberty Villiage is interesting because you get a pretty dense collection of not only rowhouse but oodles of new mid-high rise dev - it gives you a good idea of why Toronto is becoming as dense as it is and this doesn't even speak to the insane scraper condo growth in the DT core and areas throughout the GTA.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=liber...ed=0CAcQ_AUoAg

If you have the time - I recommend you leaf trough pages 5-13 of the Toronto pics thread. It gives you a great visual representation of Old Toronto in particular and the type of residential/commercial density throughout - you name it - low to mid to highrise and many pics show different areas of transition and the frequent juxtapositions in verticality I was referring to..

Official Toronto pictures/photos/snaps thread

I think the more pics you look at and the more you experience Toronto the more what I'm saying will make sense or at least I hope so!

To answer your question about say you were smack dab in the middle of DT Toronto and smack dab in the middle of DT Montreal and just sort of walked as far as you could in a circle in both and which would be the more - walkable to the point that you reach rather unappealing suburban give me a car type places - i'd honestly have a hard time with that because both have large areas of urbanity its just different.

One thing many may find deceptive about Montreal is just basing it on its metro population.. Even though its only 4-4.2 million its actually quite dense a pulls above its weight than its metro area suggests perhaps more so than any other city in the 4-4.5 million class in N.A - Montreal feels bigger, more urban and cosmopolitan than that population would suggest. .

Last edited by fusion2; 07-11-2015 at 09:09 PM..
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:15 AM
 
Location: East Coast
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Just came back from a long weekend in Toronto (my third time there, but this time I had this thread in mind). I think I'd agree with fusion2 for the most part. Both are extremely urban, though somewhat different types of urbanity.

To the OP's question, I think that Montreal does have more of that "continuous walkability" than Toronto does. While I agree with fusion2 that Toronto's leafy residential streets are very close to commercial arteries, they still feel a bit disconnected compared to Montreal's residential neighborhoods.

But again, both cities are great in this department.
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Old 07-20-2015, 09:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bballniket View Post
I realize that Toronto has lots of urban nodes away from its contiguous core, and Montreal doesn't have to nearly the same degree. In my experience, once you get past Downtown Montreal, the to the curb rowhouse development continues on for quite a while; correct me if I'm wrong, but even Old Toronto (<5 km from the CBD) there are bungalows similar to what you'll find on Chicago's North Side, while Montreal at that distance outside of the CBD is set up more like South Philly with rowhouses (less grand, but a bit more walkable)
I observe the same, which is why I prefer the Montreal type of urban layout.

Toronto's transition from highrise condos to lowrise single family homes is usually very abrupt, with hardly anything in between. Walk around Yonge/Eglinton eastward or westward it is very dramatic. Also look at Yonge/Bloor Yorkville St Jamestown, versus Rosedale. Cabbagetown is like a pure single family residential hood right in downtown steps away from all the high rises within walking distance. There are very few rowhouses in mixed neighbourhoods which I like the most.
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Old 07-20-2015, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
I observe the same, which is why I prefer the Montreal type of urban layout.

Toronto's transition from highrise condos to lowrise single family homes is usually very abrupt, with hardly anything in between. Walk around Yonge/Eglinton eastward or westward it is very dramatic. Also look at Yonge/Bloor Yorkville St Jamestown, versus Rosedale. Cabbagetown is like a pure single family residential hood right in downtown steps away from all the high rises within walking distance. There are very few rowhouses in mixed neighbourhoods which I like the most.
In red may be true but this really doesn't give a good overall picture of Old Toronto (Not to mention that these SFH's are quite attractive and pretty densely packed unlike SFH's in a more suburban setting) - go further east of the core across the Don River and you are back to High, mid and low rise mix in short order.. I don't know if you've been east of the Don lately but check out all the new Mid-rise development going up.. Just south of Cabbagetown again higher density mid to highrise form.. I'd say west of the DT core this is even more pronounced.. Toronto simply isn't a city with a contiguous 3-4 story row house type of urbanity.. Doesn't make it less urban it just means it constantly peaks between low to mid and highrise more often.. Its more a matter of preference than anything else but it certainly brings T.O over the top when it comes to density in the Canamerican perspective save for NYC. In my books, the good thing about T.O's mix Is that its not as egalitarian in form as other places. Even if you really love a certain form contiguous anything too far and wide with little juxtaposition can get a little visually boring.
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
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I guess from what I've read here and my experiences, here is a bit of a hyperbolic analogy. If Montreal is like NYC, then Toronto is more like Tokyo.

Obviously, we'll be scaling both cities down to ~1/5. I think NYC bears more contiguous walkability, a single, fairly widespread peak that has some square mileage girth to it as well, with many nearby walkable areas (the scale of NYC makes these areas not only comprise all of Manhattan but also stretch into neighboring boroughs of Manhattan); Tokyo seems to have MANY peaks, but many valleys (single family homes, albeit tightly clustered ones) within close proximity of these peaks. At the peaks themselves, the intensity is very high, but there are not entirely pedestrian-friendly areas pretty close by. Even Shibuya has single-use residential areas close by.

Now, Montreal, like NYC (but obviously on a MUCH smaller scale- on a Philly scale, if you will), has the single peak with some breadth/girth and clustered around it are walkable rowhouse neighborhoods.

Toronto, like Tokyo, has many peaks (though downtown is clearly the overwhelmingly dominant one), but valleys within close proximity of the peaks. At Toronto's downtown peak, the intensity is probably a bit higher than downtown Montreal, but Montreal maintains better urban cohesion. (as does NYC vs Tokyo).
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by bballniket View Post
I guess from what I've read here and my experiences, here is a bit of a hyperbolic analogy. If Montreal is like NYC, then Toronto is more like Tokyo.

Obviously, we'll be scaling both cities down to ~1/5. I think NYC bears more contiguous walkability, a single, fairly widespread peak that has some square mileage girth to it as well, with many nearby walkable areas (the scale of NYC makes these areas not only comprise all of Manhattan but also stretch into neighboring boroughs of Manhattan); Tokyo seems to have MANY peaks, but many valleys (single family homes, albeit tightly clustered ones) within close proximity of these peaks. At the peaks themselves, the intensity is very high, but there are not entirely pedestrian-friendly areas pretty close by. Even Shibuya has single-use residential areas close by.

Now, Montreal, like NYC (but obviously on a MUCH smaller scale- on a Philly scale, if you will), has the single peak with some breadth/girth and clustered around it are walkable rowhouse neighborhoods.

Toronto, like Tokyo, has many peaks (though downtown is clearly the overwhelmingly dominant one), but valleys within close proximity of the peaks. At Toronto's downtown peak, the intensity is probably a bit higher than downtown Montreal, but Montreal maintains better urban cohesion. (as does NYC vs Tokyo).
I think you'd need to define what urban cohesion is.. Do more contiguous 3-5 story row-houses equate to more urban cohesion and more urban walkability than what i'll present below in say the Annex area of Old Toronto west of the DT core? I think we need to call out the difference between urban cohesion and preference for a type urban form one way or another.

For example this this is the annex in Toronto with heavy Victorian and Edwardian architectural influences:

Pictures of The Annex Neighborhood, Toronto, 2007

In many cases those somewhat leafy green residential back alley streets in the Annex (which aren't all SFH's btw) are literally a few minutes walk to Bloor Street and all its urbanity.. Would you call the housing lacking in urban cohesion because it is less 'rowhouse' in nature? Its residential sure but so are rowhouses and as I said, most of those back alley residential nabe's are always close to a large mixed used commercial/residential arterial like Bloor so in the case of Old Toronto i'm not seeing a lack of urban cohesion at all.

Here are 3-5 story walkup rowhouses in Montreal

https://www.google.ca/search?q=montr...gDINEjakZOM%3A

I like them as I like Old Toronto's Victorian and Edwardian stock but I wouldn't say the urban cohesion is greater in one over than the other simply because I may prefer one form over the other. Don't let some leafy back alley residential streets in Old Toronto fool you - they are almost always close to higher density infil (many with not just SHF's but townhouses, midrise and highrise buildings all over) - I don't think these areas are lacking in urban cohesion at all simply because everything isn't a pre WWII 3-5 story rowhouse.

As for downtown intensity - This is Toronto's DT core - There is nothing in Canada that comes close to such downtown intensity.. Don't let a few nabe's with Vics adjacent to it fool you either - Toronto's Downtown core and most areas east and west of it are much more dense than just huge swaths of 'back alley' residences. Anyone who claims that isn't thoroughly acquainted with these areas i'm afraid. I'd also posit Toronto's DT area population is substantially more massive than any other DT core in Canada in terms population, density and vertical infil.

Urban Gowth by Doug, on Flickr


Last edited by fusion2; 07-22-2015 at 11:10 PM..
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Here is a good perspective on how massive Toronto's DT core is..


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1NWHP3ErPw

To provide further comparison of the Downtown areas of both Toronto and Montreal and difference in population look at the following:

Ville Marie - Comprising Downtown Montreal - population 84K in 16.5 sq km's - 2011

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ville-Marie,_Montreal

Downtown Toronto - Population over 200K in 17 sq km's in 2014

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&...4za6B-4o1-HHvg

The difference in intensity between Montreal and Toronto Downtown areas is clear.

Last edited by fusion2; 07-22-2015 at 10:45 PM..
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