Toronto’s population overtakes Chicago
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Well, move over, Chicago. Toronto is laying claim to being the fourth largest city in North America.
Since Toronto was amalgamated in 1998, it has billed itself as North America’s fifth largest city after Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
But according to the latest census data from Statistics Canada, as of last July 1, Toronto’s population was 2,791,140, about 84,000 more than Chicago’s 2,707,120.
While both numbers are estimates, the gap was enough to spur Toronto economic development staffers to declare the city is “now the fourth largest municipality in North America.”
Toronto (the city proper, not the GTA) grew by 38,000 in the previous 12 months. In Chicago’s case, 12-month growth was about 11,000.
When it comes to cities, size matters. Besides bragging rights, growing cities may accrue economic benefits, stronger exposure and presence on the world stage, and more clout at the national level. Growth suggests vitality and attractiveness.
Small wonder Chicago officials seemed unusually reticent when it came to addressing Hogtown’s (at least theoretical) leap ahead of their toddlin’ town.
More people are, in fact, choosing to stay in Toronto, said the report to Tuesday’s meeting of council’s economic development committee.
Ten years ago, 75,000 more people moved out of Toronto to elsewhere in the province than moved in. By 2012, the net loss had narrowed to only 23,000 people, with fewer people moving from the city to the surrounding regions.
The city has changed its statement accompanying official announcements to note that Toronto is “home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people.” Previously, the paragraph said 2.7 million.
“I think it’s indicative of the fact that something right is happening here, when people are flocking to the city as opposed to other places,” said Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday.
“You see all the building that’s going on, and people are coming to live in these buildings, so it stands to reason the population would increase,” Holyday said.
“I guess it’s just the fact Toronto is a healthy, vibrant city.”
While the title of number four confers bragging rights, it also brings challenges.
“We need to focus on creating more jobs,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of the economic development committee. “We have to make sure people can find work; we have to make sure people have housing.”
Toronto is in friendly competition with Chicago, a longtime sister city, Thompson said, noting that in September Mayor Rob Ford led a trade mission to Chicago with about 60 business people, eight councillors and a handful of city staff.
“We love Chicago,” he said. “We support the things that Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel is doing in Chicago, and we support the relationship that we’ve had.”
The Chicago trip featured a get-to-know-you meeting between the conservative Ford and Democrat Emanuel. The two mayors participated in a signing ceremony for a renewed sister-city agreement (first signed in 1991).
Thompson said the mayors talked about “how we can create economic opportunity to ensure prosperity for both centres.”
Chicago’s mayor has no comment on the population numbers, said a spokesperson for Emanuel. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce also was not commenting.