Vancouver tops list of most densely populated city centers in Canada

With 18,837 people per square kilometer in 2021, Downtown Vancouver is the most densely populated city center in Canada.

That’s according to Statistics Canada in a Wednesday, Feb. 9 report on the broader topic of the country’s growing urban centers.

For comparison, the agency noted that there were 28,668 people per square kilometer in 2020 in Manhattan, New York’s densest borough.

Toronto follows Vancouver as the second most densely populated city center, with 16,608 people per square kilometer.

Rounding out the top five list, Montreal, 8,367; Calgary, 7,778; and Hamilton, 6,939.

In its report, Statistics Canada noted that about 3.5% of Canadians or 1,281,474 lived in the inner cities of one of the country’s 41 census metropolitan areas or CMAs in spring 2021.

A CMA is defined as a large urban center with a population of 100,000 or more.

A downtown is the central core of an urban center and is “generally characterized by a high concentration of apartments, condos, offices, shops, restaurants, theaters and bars”.

The most populous city centers were Toronto, 275,931 people; Vancouver, 121,932; Montreal, 109 509; Ottawa, 67,169 people; and Edmonton, 55,387 people.

Going back to density, there were an average of 5,385 people per square kilometer in the downtown cores of Canada’s 41 CMAs in 2021.

As for the other city centers, here is an overview of their respective population densities in 2021.

Ottawa 6,847 per square kilometer

Halifax 6,237

Winnipeg 6,102

Victoria 5,709

Quebec 5,673

Windsor 5,004

Edmonton 4,845

Three Rivers 4,197

Abbotsford 4,059

Kitchener 3,746

Kingston 3,663

London 3,580

St. Catharines 3,547

Oshawa 3,546

Chilliwack 3,444

St. John 3,355

St. John 3,286

Kelowna 3,280

Drummondville 3,268

Brantford 3,254

Guelph 3,223

Gatineau 3,000

Peterborough 2,940

Thunder Bay 2,906

Sherbrooke 2,825

Belleville 2,494


Saskatchewan 2,388

Regina 2 103

Kamloops 2,102

Nanaimo 2,082

Greater Sudbury 2,073

Saguenay 1,913

Fredericton 1,808

Moncton 1,795

Red deer 1,631

Lethbridge 1,412


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