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Traffic on Yonge Street near Front Street in downtown Toronto is photographed on Nov. 4, 2019.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

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From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.


Readers respond: Canada’s cities are about to add millions of new residents. They can’t all drive to work

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I really wish there were studies that showed, realistically, where the wealth of Canada comes from. Is it a bank or insurance tower in Toronto or Montreal, or farms in Ontario, Quebec or other provinces, or mines in British Columbia or fisheries and tourism or?

Immigration to a major Canadian city is nice. But is this feeding on itself while rural Canada slowly fades away? Eight lane superhighways to help people move from one side of a city to another, while the hinterland gets goat trails? Universities and schools with the latest technology in big centres, while small town schools can’t buy a microscope? Is this what we really want? We sure are working hard making living outside a big city a real hardship.

New immigrants can see this. Canadians themselves in rural Canada raise children and watch them move off to Edmonton or Vancouver or Hamilton, never to return. Should rural Canada be saved, or is it just a losing cause because it is so much simpler to shove people in a city high-rise and give them a half-acre park for play and a pro sports team to cheer.

Is city growth a cure, or is it a disease? –app_65001522


When farmers cannot make a living from farming they will, despite their love for land that may have been cleared and cared for by their ancestors, accept the inevitable, sell out to developers and watch the bulldozers and excavators move in.

This editorial ignores the elephant in the room: climate change. A few months ago Goldman Sachs released a document on climate change and cities. Amid air-conditioned workspaces, restaurants and malls and subways, it is easy for many urban dwellers to overlook their exceptional vulnerabilities.

Cities require enormous inputs of direct energy: electricity, gas for heating, liquid fuels for transport, etc. Cities require a constant supply of food (which itself is grown, processed and delivered via fossil fuel inputs – the very things that we have to cut back on).

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If any of the major urban supply chains should fail, we may see all sorts of people heading for the hills, hoping to somehow scratch out a living from the land but lacking the skills to do so. –Rick Munroe


We obviously don’t have the necessary infrastructure to support such rapid increases in population, so why not dial it back to more sustainable levels until we do? –Callmethey


Sounds like a great future: Canada will be like Hong Kong, living on top of each other. Count me out. –BobbyKfromUSA


Is it such a good thing that most people are to live like sardines, to have denser urbanization? –Recluse100

‘Welcome to the twenties. Let’s hope we survive them.’ Readers debate Donald Trump, U.S. air strikes, Australia’s wildfires, plus other letters to the editor

‘An alarming wake-up call that the Trudeau government is not controlling its spending.’ Readers debate Canada’s deficit

‘To all the climate change deniers, I hope you have prepared answers for your grandchildren.’ Readers react to Australia’s wildfires

At least we are now talking about the reality of population growth in Canada, rather than historically claiming Canada is a very large country and has space for millions more inhabitants. If you take the total physical size of our five or six major cities, it is much less than many European countries, so in reality, we are a small country. I agree with the comments about the stress on our health-care system and makes we wonder why the government keeps wanting to bring more seniors into Canada, under the guise of “family reunification.” Today, families can keep in touch using FaceTime or travel, options that did not exist for the average family several decades ago. –Willy999


This is Canada’s economic model, growth of people, because we can’t improve productivity and there is no innovation driving our economy or natural resource exports – so adding people is how our politicians want us to grow.

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In the end this will be a loss of housing affordability and wage growth; it will strain our transportation, schools and hospitals. Quality of life will go down for the average Canadian. –Chris9797


A good reason to stay in, or come to Sudbury and similar small cities where rush hour lasts for 10 minutes. –Richard C V Jones


The article is absolutely right, there is no way our cities can sustain a car-centric culture if all of our population growth occurs there. For that matter, we won’t be able to sustain single-family homes within commuting distance either, and other infrastructure – water, sewer, gas, electric – will need massive upgrades as well.

The end result will be sprawling, overcrowded megalopolises with a reduced quality of life. Why do we insist on overdeveloping our few major cities when we have so much land at our disposal?

The answer to the problem lies not in making our major cities unliveable, but in fostering job creation in other places. Let’s keep Canada liveable by decentralizing. –WhistlingInTheDark


When they talk of numbers like 17 million for the Greater Toronto Area, it doesn’t bode well for the quality of life for those having to live there. Building up and not out will become a necessity, and again what an existence, surrounded by millions of people who are also living in the sky. Cities are where the jobs are, there is no escaping that. However if progress and advancement of society is seeing how many people we can cram into a very small part of the vastness that is Canada, then we need a better understanding of what progress is. –JeffSpooner

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Northbound rush-hour traffic, left, on the Don Valley Parkway approaching the Millwood Street bridge, is pictured on Nov. 24, 2016.

Fred Lum

All these newcomers expand Canada’s carbon footprint. If the Canadian government was truly serious about climate change, it would target zero population growth and set immigration levels accordingly. The fact that it does not tells us that they are not serious about claiming a climate emergency. –FrostyCanuck


And I suppose all these new people live in concrete birdcage condo towers with no green space in sight. No thanks.

Instead of a few megacities, we could have many livable medium-size cities. Beyond a million people, a city does not become more interesting and quality of life declines. People need elbow room. –Independentlypoor


I think we should target a stable population level. And we should be a lot more generous with foreign aid for girls’ education and family planning, which are proven ways to reduce population growth and lift people out of poverty. Too many people on the earth is the main driver of emissions and climate change and that is an existential crisis facing the planet. –res ipsa loquitor


I have another suggestion. How about curtailing mass immigration to let cities plan future needs instead of perpetually playing catch-up? Why do we need to increase population above the replacement rate? Why not improving existing families to have kids instead of using immigration? Does an increase in population contradict pollution targets in resource consumption? Is it too difficult to spread population growth to other second-tier cities with tax incentives to attract new business? Is it too difficult for major cities to stop building new communities of detached single homes further away from downtown, encroaching on farmed land, instead of increasing density like European cities? And why is it a fait accompli that we will have millions of new people added? Who decided it’s set in stone? –vladastorian

We don’t have “mass immigration” in Canada. We have an immigration policy based on the country’s economic needs and projected needs, with a relatively small number of refugees added to the mix. Our immigrants and refugees, on the whole, have always made positive contributions. –Magnus Eisegrim

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Immigrants made Canada a great country. More immigrants, a lot more, will make Canada an even better country.

Toronto is one of the best cities on the planet to live, work and invest. The federal government needs to recognize this reality and invest in our transit infrastructure now. –No Vacancy

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