The Employment Geography of the Megazone

The TYE megazone is both shaped and fragmented by Highways 404 and 407. Highway 7 also runs east-west through the Zone, and is the focus of transit improvements, such as the York Region Viva Bus Rapid Transit corridor.

DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYMENT

Employment is fairly evenly and uniformly distributed throughout the zone. There are, however, fewer jobs north of 16th Avenue in York Region, as this area is still developing.

THE AREA SURROUNDING THE INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAYS 7 AND 404 IS ONE OF FIVE REGIONAL SUBURBAN KNOWLEDGE-INTENSIVE DISTRICTS, CHARACTERIZED BY MANY HIGH-SKILLED AND KNOWLEDGE-INTENSIVE JOBS.

Although finance and business services employment dominates the TYE megazone as a whole, these activities are not concentrated in specific areas within the megazone. Indeed, every census tract contains a mix of manufacturing, warehousing, and finance and business services employment. (See Table 4 in the Appendix.) This pattern is due in part to the way in which the boundaries of the CTs are drawn, as they tend to encompass both office and industrial areas. However, the area surrounding the intersection of Highways 7 and 404 is one of five regional Suburban Knowledge-Intensive Districts (SKIDs). This area was identified in the report Planning for Prosperity for its many high-skilled and knowledge-intensive jobs, including occupations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM jobs).

Markham Centre, an Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designated in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe,1 is in the eastern portion of the megazone, spanning two census tracts. This area is still under development.

Markham Centre has been planned to accommodate 41,000 residents and 39,000 jobs. As of 2011, there were 7,640 jobs in the UGC,2 or about 7% of current TYE employment. Between 2006 and 2011, there was essentially no change in the number of jobs in the UGC3 - while the TYE megazone as a whole grew by 3,755 finance and business services jobs during the same five-year period. The UGC is also outside the SKID, with its concentration of knowledge-intensive jobs.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF EMPLOYMENT CHANGE

The geography of employment change within the TYE shows a patchwork pattern. Two census tracts lost jobs, while all the other census tracts added jobs.

The greatest job growth is found in the census tract around the 404/407 interchange and at the easternmost census tract. Although the latter area includes part of the Markham Centre UGC, most employment growth occurred south of the 407, not in Markham Centre.4

EMPLOYMENT CHANGE BY SECTOR

As it does elsewhere in the GGH, looking at net growth or loss of employment in the megazone as a whole tends to mask underlying economic restructuring within the TYE zone.

Each census tract in the TYE megazone experienced growth in some industries and loss in others between 2001 and 2011 - with the exception of the census tract at the northeast edge of the zone, which is newly urbanizing and has not experienced loss.

The loss of manufacturing employment is widespread, occurring in every other census tract in the megazone, particularly census tract 6, where such employment predominated. In the warehousing and transportation sector (which in the TYE megazone consists mostly of wholesaling jobs) the pattern is more mixed, with some areas losing employment and others gaining jobs. Notable was the addition of more than 1,000 such jobs in the easternmost census tract.

Finance and business services employment has also been growing across the entire megazone (with the exception of one census tract, which saw a slight net loss). More than net new 4,000 finance and business services jobs were added to the census tract immediately surrounding the 404/407 interchange and almost 1,700 net new jobs in the census tract in the City of Toronto. In addition, more than 1,000 net new finance and business services jobs were added in the census tract spanning Highway 404 north of Steeles Avenue.

Much of the growth in finance and business services employment has occurred in office campuses (such as those in the northeast and northwest quadrants of the 404/407 highway intersection subarea), rather than in the more industrial areas characterized by single-storey, large-floorplate buildings.

Overall, we see the megazone undergoing a significant transition away from manufacturing towards finance and business services and, to a lesser extent, wholesaling. With this transition comes a shift in the internal geography of the area, with new finance and business services tending to concentrate in specific locations. (See Table 5 in the Appendix.)

EMPLOYMENT DENSITY

The census tracts with the lowest employment densities, particularly those at the northern and eastern edges of the megazone, are newly urbanizing and still contain undeveloped land. In addition, employment densities will be lower in tracts that include residential land, if this residential land area is included in the land component of the calculation. Most census tracts in the TYE include significant areas of residential development. Therefore, to obtain more consistent and accurate measurements of employment density, we removed residential land areas from the calculation. The resulting employment densities range from 13 to 16 jobs per hectare at the low end, for areas still under development, to more than 50 jobs per hectare in the more office-oriented areas adjacent to the Highway 7 and 404 intersection.

Areas of the TYE megazone that do not contain many yet-to-be-developed sites generally meet or approach minimum Ministry of Transportation density guidelines for basic transit service (50 residents plus jobs per hectare).5 This includes office parks around the 404/407 interchange and north of Highway 7, as well as the tract in the City of Toronto, which exceeds that threshold. (See Table 6 in the Appendix.)

As economic restructuring continues, the types of employment that support higher densities (e.g., finance and business services) should continue to grow, creating the potential for further densification.


[1] The boundary of Markham Centre is slightly larger than that of the Urban Growth Centre identified in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

[2] Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Growth Secretariat, Technical Report on Preliminary Performance Indicators for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006.

[3] According to MMAH data, there was a loss of five jobs during this period in the UGC.

[4] At least, there was no growth in Markham Centre in the 2006-2011 period, the years for which we have data for the UGC itself.

[5] Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Transit-Supportive Guidelines, mto.gov.on.ca.