The Employment Geography of the Megazone

We have divided the TYW into four subzones, corresponding to the four quadrants defined by the intersection of Highway 400 and Steeles Avenue.


Of the four subzones, the northeast quadrant, centred on the CN intermodal terminal, is the largest and has the largest number of jobs: 62,355. The area in the southeast quadrant, which includes industrial areas, York University, and Downsview Airport, contains the second highest number, at 39,005 jobs.

Manufacturing, which is by far the dominant economic activity in the TYW megazone, is not relegated to certain areas, but is found across the whole megazone and is the predominant activity in each subzone and census tract.

Warehousing and transportation activities are also found across the district but, not surprisingly, are most significant in the northeast quadrant close to the CN intermodal terminal. There are more than 13,000 warehousing and transportation jobs in this sub-zone.

Although manufacturing employment also dominates in the southeast subzone, York University and the Downsview Airport lands are located in this subarea, reflected in the presence of almost 3,000 jobs in higher education and government services.

Finance and business services jobs are found throughout the entire megazone, although in fewer numbers than jobs in manufacturing or in the warehousing and transportation category. (See Table 4 in the Appendix.)

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) is in the northeast subzone. The area is currently under development, and while some office uses have located there recently (notably a KPMG office building), these jobs were not captured in the 2011 census data. In 2011, the VMC contained only 2,215 jobs.1


Employment change has not been uniform across the TYW Megazone. The areas to the north of Steeles Avenue (in Vaughan) have seen overall employment growth between 2001 and 2011. The northeast subzone experienced the greatest amount of growth, adding more than 9,000 jobs, while the northwest subzone added more than 4,000.

South of Steeles Avenue (in the City of Toronto), the picture was different; the two subzones each experienced a net loss of about 3,100 jobs.


With the exception of the more newly urbanizing employment areas north of Highway 7 and west of Highway 400, the remaining areas of the TYW megazone all experienced a loss of manufacturing employment between 2001 and 2011. However, in the areas south of Steeles Avenue (that is, in Toronto), more manufacturing jobs were lost (more than 8,800 in total). In addition, the southeast subzone also experienced a net loss of employment in the warehousing and transportation sector, of more than 1,300 jobs.

Although the northeast subzone also lost close to 1,700 manufacturing jobs during the same period, it attracted more than 2,000 new jobs in warehousing and transportation, about 2,400 in finance and business services, and 5,800 population-related jobs. The northwest subzone also attracted new jobs in warehousing and transportation, and in business services.

South of Steeles Avenue, relatively little new employment was created in other sectors to compensate for lost manufacturing jobs. The main mitigating factor was an increase in employment of more than 2,000 jobs in the higher education and hospitals sector, presumably at York University. In short, employment areas in the City of Toronto not only lost more jobs in manufacturing, but also attracted fewer new jobs in other sectors, compared with employment areas in the City of Vaughan. (See Table 5 in the Appendix.)

It may be that the industry mix south of Steeles Avenue was more weighted toward industries vulnerable to globalization and technological change. But why did those areas attract fewer new jobs in other sectors? More research would be needed to answer this question.


The TYW megazone is strongly oriented toward activities such as manufacturing, wholesaling, and transportation that tend to have lower employment densities compared with office-related activities, such as finance and business services.

The large census tract surrounding the CN intermodal facility has an employment density of 24 jobs per hectare.2 This is at the lower end of the spectrum for employment densities in the more mature, industrially oriented areas, which tend to fall within the range of 25 to 35 jobs per hectare of employment land.3 Newer areas that are still under development, or those slated for redevelopment, such as the Downsview area, still have vacant sites and therefore their current densities are lower than this range. (See Table 6 in the Appendix.)

As of 2011, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre had not yet begun to attract new, denser employment uses. Under the Growth Plan, the target density for the Centre is 200 people plus jobs per hectare. As it consisted primarily of industrial uses in 2011, the VMC's employment density was just 21 jobs per hectare4 (there was no residential development there in 2011, so that number also represented people-plus-jobs per hectare).


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

[2] Large non-developable areas have been deleted from the land base estimation: major expressway interchanges, major parks, the Downsview Airport runway area, and the functional area of the CN intermodal facility.

[3] Excluding the land associated with residential areas gives a more accurate representation of employment densities, particularly when residential and employment uses are rigorously separated, as they are in the TYW megazone.

[4] MMAH, Technical Report on Preliminary Performance Indicators for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006.