The Influence of Housing Suitability on Commuting Patterns in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver
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This thesis explores the impact of housing suitability on the commute to work link for the metropolitan areas of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Housing suitability, operationalized in this thesis using variables for number of bedrooms and dwelling type, has not been studied extensively in the literature. The research goal is to build upon the current knowledge of the factors shaping the distance between home and work by investigating the role of housing suitability using a large data set permitting statistical analysis. This requires access to household level data including geographic identifiers for the workers’ home and work location rarely available in public data to protect confidentiality of respondents. Accessibility to the confidential micro-level census data from 2006 provided by Statistics Canada was secured to enable such a unique quantitative examination. Two different approaches are used to measure the influence of housing suitability on the home-work link. First, a series of regression models estimate the importance of housing suitability on proximity to the workplace holding several other factors constant. Second using a descriptive, comparative analysis the housing in the employment centres of each CMA is compared to (a) the current housing occupied by workers and (b) the housing that would be required, based on suitability criteria, to accommodate the workforce currently working in specific employment centres. The results speak to the role housing suitability plays in countering Smart Growth planning principles as workers are forced to live further away from work due to the inability to find suitable housing near their place of work. For planners the results indicate that an examination of housing suitability at the metropolitan scale, in relation to the home-work link, is required before attempts are made to implement Smart Growth policy.