How much more crowded could Vancouver be?

A report released yesterday by the Fraser Institute ranks Vancouver as the 13th densest urban area among the 30 comparable cities from high income countries around the world.

Comparing Vancouver's density to many of the other countries on the list suggests Vancouver could still grow and handle even more population and housing.

Density is expressed as a ratio, calculated by dividing a city's population by its urban land area. Vancouver, based on 2016 data, has a population of 631,486 divided by its 115 square km urban area works out to a population density of 5,493 inhabitants per square km.

While Vancouver is the densest city in Canada, in comparison, San Francisco, another west coast port city of similar geographic land size has about 114,000 more residents, making it more than 30% more dense, or 1.31 times as dense.

The report notes that Canadian cities appear to have 'relatively low population densities' when compared with other major urban areas across North America. Hong Kong takes top spot in the world with a population density of 25,719 inhabitants per square km.

While the report makes it clear that the Canada's most desirable urban areas have the physical capacity to comfortably accommodate far more housing units and residents than we have now, you have to wonder what these higher population densities would do to our living standards.

Using Mercer's Quality of Life Ranking, which uses government data to look at infrastructure, public safety, political stability and health of more than 450 cities, the report also finds no statistically meaningful link between a city's population density and its quality of living.

The report notes that a better understanding of how a city's population density might or might not affect living standards can help people and policymakers 'rethink their perceptions of urban living' and to adjust the way they accommodate growing populations within existing neighbourhoods.

Excuse me for being a little skeptical, but I really don't have much faith in our policymakers. So far, in my view, life style has decreased as Vancouver becomes more dense, and I don't see it getting any better.  What are your views?


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