Some definitions

A number of terms are used throughout this paper. To avoid possible misunderstandings concerning the meaning/connotation of these terms, we present the following definitions.

Travel demand: This refers to the physical flow of persons, vehicles, goods (freight) and services through and within the Central Ontario Zone. At times the paper focuses on either person travel or the movements of goods; at other times it deals with travel demand of all kinds.

Transportation system: The transportation system consists of:

  • the complete set of transportation-related physical infrastructure (roads, highways, rail lines, stations, terminals);
  • the vehicles that operate within the rights-of-way provided by the physical infrastructure (cars, trucks, buses, trains, bicycles);
  • the operating system, laws/rules, and other means used to control vehicle and pedestrian movements within the rights-of-way (such as traffic signal systems; roadway signage; ITS-based real-time freeway control systems; speed limits);
  • all transportation-related services operated within this physical infrastructure (including public transit, taxis, trucking, couriers).

Thus, the transportation system consists of the entire supply side of the transportation demand-supply interaction. The performance of the transportation system in terms of travel times and costs, congestion levels, service reliability and so forth depends directly on the nature and level of travel demand trying to use the system (for example, the level of congestion on a freeway obviously increases as more cars and trucks try to use the freeway). At the same time, demand for a given transportation facility depends, in part, on the cost and quality of service being provided by this facility (for example, if a freeway is extremely congested, trip-makers will try to find alternative routes, or perhaps even alternative modes of travel, to complete a given trip).

Urban form, urban structure, land use: These terms are used more or less interchangeably throughout the paper. They encompass:

  • the built environment (that is, the physical distribution of houses, factories, stores, office buildings, parks and other elements that physically defines our villages, towns, suburbs and cities);
  • the activities that occur within this built environment (in-home activities, jobs, retail services, recreational activities, etc.);
  • the functional interconnections between physically dispersed activities (such as the links between place of residence and place of work).

It is important to explain the use of the term "urban." Although much of the Central Ontario Zone is clearly rural or otherwise non-urban, the majority of the population and economic activity is found in "urbanized" areas. For example, in 2001, 84% of the population and 85% of both employment and employed labour force within the "reduced COZ" (defined below) was located within the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.1

Further, the issue of smart growth is inherently one of how to manage continuing urbanization/urban development within the Central Ontario Zone, since this is the primary means by which growth will, inevitably, occur. Indeed, even growth in rural areas or small villages and towns is inherently one of urbanization, since it represents at least some increase in the density or intensity of development, and is invariably driven by pressures from and interactions with more developed towns and cities within the Central Ontario Zone.

Thus, while this paper often speaks of urbanization or urban development, this does not mean that it is concerned with "big-city" issues alone. Urbanization affects the entire Central Ontario Zone. Indeed, in many important respects it is a more important issue for currently non-urban areas trying to cope with growth pressures than it is for already highly urbanized areas, which either are not facing the same pressures for growth or have in place infrastructure that allows them to cope with these pressures more readily.

1. Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics in this report are derived from the Transportation Tomorrow Survey database for the year specified.