The Windsor Research Project – This Old House

This Old House

Delving into the question of why the region is sprawling out, part the discussion must begin with the historical legacy of housing in our region.

Updating Housing Stock

As the table above illustrates, Windsor’s housing stock is substantially older than other parts of our region. As a result there are challenges in aligning these homes with modern need and preferences.  When people think of older housing in Windsor their thoughts tend to drift to stately, heritage homes of Old Walkerville, Sandwich and Victoria Ave downtown. In fact the homes that we are speaking about are more likely to look like are these:

The first home (left to right) is the house my dad grew up in. On Byng Rd. south of Tecumseh, it featured 2 bedrooms plus a attic room where 4 kids were raised with 1.5 baths. On the fringe of Windsor in the 1960s (now it is near the geographic centre of the City), the house featured a steep staircase to get into the basement and up to the second floor and 4 steps to get in the front door made the house nearly unworkable for my grandmother prior to her passing. Those same staircases forced a closed layout that didn’t allow for an open concept on the main level and only the decision by my grandparents to blow out the back wall of the house and build a porch did they get access to their backyard. A furnished basement added some additional living space and was home to the extra half bath, unfortunately it was (and I suspect still is) susceptible to flooding.

The second house is my home in West Windsor. With no basement and knee-walled upstairs the 1200ish sq ft. are great for my wife and I with our dogs. I would call this a prototypical “starter home” but I’ll be honest, if we were to have kids (or get more dogs), it would be hard to stay here despite being a block from a school. Both my wife and I work at home; she uses the second bedroom as her office while I used the former dinning room. A single bathroom is never ideal when two adults have to be places in the morning. 

The third home was my mom’s mother house on Janette Ave. Although the largest and oldest of the three houses, it featured only one bathroom and an unfinished basement with a 7 foot ceiling making almost unusable other than storage. Much like my dad’s house stairs played a major role in the design and it was these stairs that forced my grandmother from her home over a fifteen years ago. 

Although these homes have worked (and continue to work) for families in our community, times and preferences have changed. Compare these older homes to the “needs and wants” of many modern families. A room for every child, on-suite bathrooms, home offices spaces, separate TV rooms, open concept floor plans, energy efficient designs and appliances, a backyard, 2000+ sq ft, a garage, etc. Windsor older housing leave a lot to be desired for a significant portion of the population.   Without a doubt there is another segment of the population that these amenities don’t appeal to, but the question that has to be asked is whether they represent a significant enough portion of our community to drive political and economic decision making is another question. 

Impact of this Misalignment

The impact of this housing misalignment is partially illustrated in the map below.

housing price

Taken from home sale data from 2005 and 2015 that was collected as part of the Neighbourhood Market Value Study by the City of Windsor. The map illustrates the price change by equal count categories. When digging through the raw data, of the 379 DAs where data was available, 168 saw the median sale value in a neighbourhood decline over the decade, while another 29 DAs saw their values increase at a rate of less than inflation during that 10 year period (2.45% annually). The geographic concentrations of these swings are at least partially based on the fundamentals of the stock and not cyclical economic factors, especially since this data was snapshot pre/post the recession. More evidence emerges from the Windsor Real Estate Association data from 2014 and 2015.  

Open in a new window to view

The above shows how different neighbourhoods/communities residential prices changed year over year. As averages there were certainly some outliers and as we know that prices have continued to rise. What is clear is that the greatest growth in housing prices are emerging in areas of the city where the stock is newest. I myself bought by home built in the 1950s in West Windsor for $118,000 in December of 2016. What is important to takeaway is that not every neighbourhood is valued equally which many advocates in our community fail to account for and is largely the reason why developers have avoided building in the core without subsidies. 

Looking at home buyer preferences and matching them to Windsor’s housing market a general disconnect becomes clear. Although there are plenty of denser designed single family homes in Windsor’s core, unfortunately many of them are older, smaller and misaligned with modern tastes in housing which would require expensive renovation. Examining millennial housing preferences (other sources: here, here ) outside of walkable neighbourhoods and/or transit density they want things in a home that many houses in the city’s core don’t easily provide. Of course affordability is important but given that Essex County is one of the most affordable regions in Canada that point is of less importance than in the GTA or Vancouver. As a result millennials are looking for turn key, low upkeep, energy efficient, technology enabled, homes with open floor plans, modern appliances and home office spaces for their side hustle. When I think of downtown housing, although pieces of this are present in particular houses, they are not present at scale. 

Shifting demographics to seniors, looking at best practices in senior housing design, existing housing stock in Windsor’s core fails to meet many standards. My aforementioned grandmother had to leave her home due to not being able to climb the stairs to enter/exit her house while her laundry and chest freezer were largely out of reach. Doorways not wide enough for walkers or wheel chairs, non-accessible showers or bathtubs, lack of main floor laundry and a desire for a low/no maintenance dwelling much of the housing in the core of Windsor fail to meet these best practices and desires. Generally seniors like millennials are looking for turn key accommodations not moving into a downsized home that then needs tens of thousand of renovations.

Research out of CMHC from BC point to another key point, downsizing seniors still want space. For their “future home” 73% of seniors want a 2 bedroom or larger home, 34% identifying a single family home as their ideal dwelling followed by apartments/condos at 27%. Although from a different province the survey was a statistically significant sample and when I look at these numbers I see the new builds of ranch style homes in LaSalle or Lakeshore as being more compatible to these desires than a 20+ year old home in Windsor’s core. 

Building Out

The City of Windsor Market Value study pointed out that in portions of the city, developers simply couldn’t make a profit, this is was justification for the reduction of development charges in core areas of the City and the implementation of the Downtown CIP. The result of that lack of profit making ability we saw an outward push in development as new greenfield homes do turn a profit. Data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation shows suburban County is out stripping the City in new home construction.

Housing Construction

Following Jan 2018, CMHC changing how they reported this data (because I can’t have nice things), from Jan to Oct 2018, the City of Windsor saw another 287 new units started, while the rest of the CMA saw 487 units. Unfortunately I haven’t be able to find a comparable breakdown of how these units are allocated as they become available only after a year is completed. It does appear that there is some shift in the style of housing towards semi-detached town homes, but they are still being built, at scale on greenfield sites.

Greenfield construction seems to be here to stay based on this data and even without including the Sandwich South Development Lands, the rest of the CMA has lands for thousands, if not tens of thousands of new homes. LaSalle’s (now former) mayor stated on Windsor Morning the town plans for 50,000 people north of Laurier parkway; new sewers have been approved in Amherstburg to “spur development”; Tecumseh suspending fees on certain development and the Town of Essex investing in Harrowby removing development charges.

This outward construction has not helped the rental situation in the City of Windsor.  When looking at the ratio of household ownership to rental by ward you see clear patterns. Concentration of rental households in core also impacts that overall housing market.

From a profit standpoint it is both cheaper and easier to build homes for sale than apartments for rent. At the same time there is a strong correlation (0.64) between renters and low income prevalence within the city. This does help paint some of the implicate outcomes of research on rental properties impacts on housing values (another here) that shows correlations with overall property values of a neighbourhood depending on the concentration, state and form of the rental housing.  Hence the battles between NIMBY homeowners against density and rental/affordable development. Even if those battles aren’t apparent (here as well) in our region they are baked into the process through which housing developers decide to build, they take the path of least resistance.

The census provides us another view of our regions development patterns. The following table shows the change in occupied housing type between the 2016 and 2011 census for each municipality and the Wards of Windsor. Definitions of the housing type can be found here.

Housing

Ward 7, 9 and 10 are all home to large sections of development lands which is targeted for suburban development in the City of Windsor but these development levels pale in comparison to the nearby LaSalle and Lakeshore for single detached homes. The decline in single detached homes in Ward 2-4, I would suspect result from both the conversion of homes into rental properties and rooming housing, and the removal of some blighted properties. 

So why are things happening this way?

Windsor Ugly Housing Issue

Fundamentally the City’s core is largely landlocked. Although there is plenty of vacant land, very little of it is connected in a manner that allows it to be assembled to build a subdivision that allow economies of scale. Generally a developer doesn’t want to build one or two houses, they want to build twenty or thirty as that is where there are increased profit margins. In addition, as much of the available land is some form of brownfield or has a vacant buildings already on it, the cost of that remediation for many lots in the core must be factored into the developers mind.

Despite there possibly being a latent desire for additional urban options in housing, broader statistics show that existing housing stock in Windsor is misaligned to the desires of many demographic groups. The recent CIP fueled announcements for the downtown core do offer promise new development but they still need to provide perceived value. One of the larger projects a 16 story, 120 unit building has been proposed downtown and supported through the CIP isn’t a done deal and still faces some hurdles in my opinion.

Downtown Apartment

The above numbers are an estimate based on publicly available information and they assume no profit making, construction delays, added costs or revenue to cover future maintenance. These numbers also don’t include the potential benefit of the subsidies offered by the City. Although very basic in its assumptions with the per unit cost being over $90 per month more then the average rental rate in Ward 3 before the owner makes his money back. The question becomes who lives here? 

If these units come in a $900+ per month or are selling as condos for $275,000 or $300,000 are existing residents able to afford that? At that price point and a few hundred dollars more in monthly payments, you could own a home and live the suburban dream instead of rent. The price you would pay is having to put up with one of the shortest commutes in the country to get to and from where you need to be. 

My house in West Windsor, certainly has appreciated in value in the past couple of years that I have owned it. In that time I’ve spent about between $8,000 and $10,000 in renovation and repairs despite doing a number of these projects myself. The simple fact that older homes require more work to maintain is a factor that may be driving people away from Windsor’s core.

The structural challenge of Windsor’s housing stock is one of the biggest barriers facing our city. This aged and misaligned housing stock has contributed to a segmentation of the housing market and the populations that live in neighbourhoods. At the same time, home ownership remains an aspiration for many in Windsor. Issues of poverty, asset inequality and access to services will only be solved when this housing asymmetry is tackled.

Developers won’t build homes in the core without subsidy due to a lack of economies of scale and profit potential. They won’t build apartments in outer areas of the city due to the political risks. This creates incentives to perpetuates existing development patterns that exacerbates the structural challenges that Windsor’s housing stock faces as that is what enables them to make a living.

For those looking for denser more urban Windsor, the problem you must solve is how to redevelop the existing housing stock and neighbourhoods without displacing vulnerable populations. A bike lane, a new tech business setting up shop or anchor institution opening its door aren’t enough to solve these problems in my opinion. Whole scale neighbourhood redevelopment maybe needed in many cases. So the question becomes how do you physically rebuild housing in a community and empower those who live there and more importantly who pays for it?

The Windsor Research Project – Forward

The Windsor Research Project

Forward 

What began as a essay on urban sprawl and some of the challenges faced by Windsor and broader Essex County has evolved into a much more. As 2018 progresses, Windsor-Essex County is in many ways at an inflection point, with the coming years charting the course of this region for the next generation and beyond. Although some might call this alarmist, the interaction of the various socio-economic ecosystems will see of our region fixed in a manner that will then curb the behaviour of various institutions and sectors creating a rigidity that can only be reversed through traumatic shock or a systematic deconstruction.

Despite the name related to this project, I will be looking at all of Essex County. The nature of broader Windsor and Essex County makes these challenges even more pronounced and makes tackling some of the issues that our region faces even more challenging. That being said, as the dominant socio-economic presence in the region Windsor will be the focus of many of the posts.

As a mid-size community there is very little in depth research on issues conducted in our community. This results in a pattern of big announcement being made, excitement and media coverage occurring and then nothing, at least until something unforeseen emerges. As a result, what is needed is some digging. Our region faces a number of significant challenges. Issues of housing stock quality; an expanding opioid crisis, a lack of economic diversification; a weak activist class; increasing political polarization; crumbling infrastructure; high rates of poverty; increasingly harmful urban sprawl; growing inequality; a degrading environment; poor educational attainment; issues of revitalization and/or gentrification; are a sample of some of the perceived/identified challenges. To list these challenges is not to be a naysayer or to speak down about our region. Not only is there data that fundamentally supports the existence of the issues listed above but in many cases they are impacting mid-sized cities across North America. It is by unpacking some of these challenges and the data that outlines them a rational policy discussion can occur. This is what this project is about, an attempt at a data driven analysis and commentary on the challenges that our region faces.

Fundamentally our region faces an existential threat not only from the challenges outlined above but the global pace of change, economic forces beyond our control and a growing internal division. The tragedy is that in many ways the City of Windsor can’t solve these problems alone and the only way to solve them is for our region to do something it doesn’t do very often, compromise. This outcome is not easy or even likely but what the subsequent posts in this series will explore the underlying data that justifies that shifts in thinking are required and I offer up my “informed?” opinions on some of these issue.

Although the exact order and topics of the posts are to be determined, the initial posts will form a foundation for subsequent posts by providing context and framework that illustrates my perspective on issues and some underlying macro level factors that shape the region as a whole.  Hopefully this will tie together into a cohesive narrative.

Book List

A few people have been asking where is my blog post/series on Windsor, Sprawl, Housing etc. going to be posted – short answer is that it is coming. In the meantime, if you are interested in the subject, here is the Book List that forms the foundation for that work. In the last year or so I have either read or am currently in the process of reading all of these books. Assuming I don’t expand this book list, as for why it is taking me so long, I blame Lucy!

IMG_20170313_091821_415

(not really cause who could blame that face!)

Christmas in September… Putting money where our mouths are.

On Wednesday, the next batch of Census data is released and it is the only standalone data set of the year: Income Data…

In 2011, the Census tracked the status of Windsor in 2010 during the teeth of the recession. The question at hand is how far has Windsor and Essex County come from the from that low point. In 2011, Windsor was home to the highest rates of low income people living in low income neighbourhoods in Canada; 1 in 4 children were growing up in Poverty; 44% of single mothers lived in poverty are just some of the top line items.

When mapped it looked like this:Windsor Population Living in Low Income 2011

One of the more interesting maps actually comes from the Median Income levels of each of these neighbourhoods.

Median Income

Obviously median income shows what the middle income of the population of income earners is within a particular space. The scaling I used on this data is a broader than has been previously mapped in our community.

What to Watch For Tomorrow: 

  • How big of a swing in low income % occurs
    • There are going to be major gains in poverty reduction in our community, largely because of the improvement in the overall economy. What is happening at a neighbourhood level? Some neighbourhoods had poverty rates in 2011 in excess of 75%, even if significant gains are made what are the poverty levels in these areas? Are we willing to celebrate 1 in 4 in poverty in some areas
    • What about specific demographic groups in our single parents, seniors and children fair?
  • How does median income change in our region? Based on the mapping above basically 1/3 of the neighbourhoods in Windsor had a median income less than the poverty line. How has that improved.
    • Also looking at the urban/suburban spread. With the exception of Walkerville (5 top richest neighbourhoods in all of Essex County in 2011) how does the core do in comparison to the suburban fringe and the neighbouring suburban municipalities?
    • Gender split in median income isn’t something that I have looked to closely at but it would be interesting to see how that has changed over time.
  • How do these numbers compare to 2006 and 2001 prior to the great recession?

Once this data is available a big thing to consider is how we build resiliency in our community. If the swings that we see are largely just driven by economic cycles the question becomes how do we invest now to ensure that during the next downturn things don’t get as bad as they did in 2011.

It’s Christmas… In February

On February 8th, the first batch of the 2016 Census data is released. Although only the population and dwelling counts are being released next week, it is the first stage of a year long release…. pretty much Christmas all year long.

What does this mean for our region?

Well the bast way I can describe the population and dwelling count release is that it is little more than tease, offering up little more than top line numbers on population change, its change between 2011 and 2016, dwelling counts and number of dwelling occupied, land areas and population density. For some context as to what the numbers could look like here is the Windsor CMA broken out from 2011.

Windsor LaSalle Lakeshore Tecumseh Ahmerstburg
Population in 2011 210,891 28,643 34,546 23,610 21,556
Population in 2006 216,473 27,652 33,245 24,224 21,748
2006 to 2011 population change (%) -2.6 3.6 3.9 -2.5 -0.9
Total private dwellings 96,483 10,103 13,080 8,832 8,600
Private dwellings occupied by usual residents 87,830 9,901 12,331 8,657 8,124
Pop. density per square  km 1,441.30 438.6 65.1 249.3 116.1
Land area (square km) 146.32 65.3 530.32 94.69 185.68

The key thing to keep in mind when these numbers are released is that there is not a lot of context. These numbers provide us a what, not a why and there are underlying root causes that are far more important than the top line numbers themselves.  To imply knowing the why or connecting these numbers to a specific factor is premature and speculative. This isn’t to say that we can’t infer somethings from the data that comes out but without some of the broader underlying ethno-demographic and socio-economic data or their breakouts at a tract or dissemination area level its really hard to say what the causes or impacts are.

Important Things to Remember

  • Do not freak out a census is every 5 years, Windsor is 125 years old. A under preforming census isn’t the end of the world for any community.
  • Do not let anyone amplify a single line item within this initial data release to the point of crisis.
  • Remember all of the data was collected May-July 2016. This means it missed the second half of the year (auto contracts, hirings, FINA etc.).
  • The census is a point in time, the data today is already outdated but it provides a new benchmark moving forward. All population projections, growth charts etc. need to be re-calibrated.
  • Due to land areas of the communities not changing since 2011 (to my knowledge), the populations densities will fluctuate and people will make big deals of simple tweaking a numerator.

Some Bold/Educated Predictions 

  • Windsor’s population will get back above 2006 levels but the gap between dwellings and uninhabited dwellings will remain large.
  • Amherstburg will see positive growth in the 2-3% range
  • LaSalle will be flirting with 30,000 people with both it and Lakeshore breaking 4% population growth.
  • Tecumseh will growth will continue to lag as combos of geography and competition see it passed over by population grown and dwelling construction.
  • Looking further afield, Kingsville’s growth will probably compete with Lakeshore and LaSalle.
  • Leamington will be relatively flat from a growth standpoint.
  • Essex will probably continue to struggle, I suspect that the town itself does okay with marginal growth (~1%) but Harrow and southern Essex struggle.

Book Review: The Boundary Bargain by @zacspicer

For my birthday I was finally able to finish up Zachary Spicer book The Boundary Bargain. The book outlines  the evolution and nature of the cities and rural areas in Ontario and the consequences  of this divide.Boundary Bargain

Providing a historical overview dating back to the early cities of Upper Canada to outline the evolution of how towns grew into cities and how they interacted with the rural countries that surrounded them; Spicer set the contextual stage for many of modern challenges of sprawl and inter-governmental cooperation. To illustrate these challenges Spicer uses three case studies: London-Middlesex; Guelph-Wellington County and Barrie/Orillia-Simcoe County to illustrate the ongoing tension between urban centres and their surrounding rural partners. Each of these City/Counties face their own unique challenges: from London where suburbanization is being driven by county representatives along city’s fringes, which has led to the City refusing to provide services and to talk of annexation. To Guelph where a cooperative arrangement has been put in place to allow Guelph to expand as needed but questions of whether appropriate intensification will occur. To the Simcoe County where Barrie and Orillia are separated cities on different trajectories with Barrie being the fastest growing cities in Canada and Orillia growing at a negligible rate; within the rest of the County you find that it is split between rapidly growing suburban communities closer to the GTA and slower growing northern communities that struggle to maintain their economic base.

Spicer concludes by looking at the institutional mechanism  that can potentially overcome the artificial boundaries that exist between cities and their surrounding counties. Providing examples from the “New Regionalist” paradigm he examines the feasibility of potential institutional solutions to these boundary issues which range from: basic inter-departmental cooperation to department amalgamation across a region to the formation of single tiers of government.

Overall this book does a wonderful job at illustrating the institutional challenges that face many cities and counties across Ontario. With thirteen separated cities/counties remaining in Ontario, Windsor-Essex, being one of them; the book provide insights on how our region (and others) could potentially move forward to improve cooperation and coordination.

My only hope is that Spicer doesn’t spend too much time taking a closer look at the dysfunction state that is Windsor-Essex, as it will take away a lot of potential the material from this blog.

Housing Stock – Lets get depressing :P

In my previous post I took my dog for a walk and we had a wonderful time wandering my neighbourhood and seeing looking the state of house. At this point, we have to take a step back and look at the City as a whole. On Saturday night I tweeted out the first piece of data from this post I traded tweets with a nice fellow from Alberta:

Before we get into the sprawl discussion we have to look at the state of Windsor’s housing stock.

What is “Housing Stock”?

Across Windsor, there are beautiful homes that are lovingly maintained by their owners that being said there are many other homes that are less well maintained or appraised. When the term Housing Stock is used it is referring to dwellings within a community at macro level, little boxes on a hill side, not individual homes, street or even neighbourhood. This definition is also not exclusive to detached homes, when referring to dwelling or housing stock it includes apartments, condos, townhouses, row houses, cottages pretty much anywhere with a permanent address that people live in a permanent basis.[1]

Speaking about housing on a macro level is important is due to broader conversations that is needed in our community. Due to the unique geography of Windsor-Essex County you can’t talk about Windsor in isolation from the rest of the region and as a result Windsor’s Housing Stock not only needs to compete with but be a superior value to the rest of the region in order to help attract talent and investment to the city. Attracting talent is a complex situation numerous factors interacting to determine where individuals settle but Windsor is the location of majority of the jobs in the region meaning that it is a location of destination for most people on a daily basis. If the housing stock in a particularly neighbourhood or area close to work do not align with consumer preference or offer sufficient value than other options will be explored.

Given that Windsor CMA is home to some of the shortest commuting times in Canada, selecting a home outside of the city or at its fringes carries fewer negative consequences compared to other communities.[2] For many, a house is the most important purchase/investment that an individual or family will make and if a house in the city cannot provide comparative material and marginal value to owners when held up to a suburban location they will select the suburbs.

 Age of Housing Stock

The state of Windsor’s housing stock can be summed up in the following phrase: Generally speaking the homes in central Windsor –are smaller, less expensive and older than homes of the surrounding suburbs and in the rest of the county. Due to the developed nature of the City of Windsor and the natural geographic disadvantage that it faces from the border blocking development in a northern direction, has naturally resulted in new constructions gravitating towards suburban fringes and neighbouring municipalities around the city.

Table 1: Percentages of occupied private dwellings by period of construction[3]

Windsor Windsor Core Tecumseh LaSalle Lakeshore Amherstburg Essex Kingsville Leamington
1960 or before 44% 61% 19% 15% 22% 28% 35% 33% 35%
1961 to 1980 28% 26% 24% 23% 27% 30% 31% 29% 27%
1981 to 1990 7% 11% 22% 14% 10% 12% 12% 8% 12%
1991 to 2000 12% 4% 27% 30% 17% 17% 14% 15% 16%
2001 to 2005 7% 1% 7% 13% 17% 9% 5% 9% 7%
2006 to 2011 2% 0% 2% 5% 6% 4% 3% 5% 3%

As the table [4] above illustrates with greater than 1 in 3 dwellings in the City of Windsor been built before 1960, which translates into 38,315 dwellings, it places the city in a challenging position. This isn’t to say that every old dwelling are poor quality homes to live in or that they can’t it be a part of a revitalization. The various historical “districts” on Victoria Ave, Sandwich Towne and Old Walkerville do represent an important part of our community’s history but dwellings in these areas only represent 4,435 or less than 1 in 5 dwellings in the City core. This number likely skews to the high side as the census tracts are larger than then what most people would define as the heritage areas of these neighbourhoods and likely include types of homes that are not what you would equate with stately historic homes.

Outside of the historic neighbourhood and unless the older home is a historic design, many of the older homes in Windsor’s core are generally smaller in size, on a smaller lot, less likely to be aligned with modern preferences and as a result are not in a position where substantial appreciation of property values is likely to occur.[5] This does not negate historic housing stock from playing a key role in a revitalization, but efforts to revive large swaths of the city will need to extend beyond the minority of housing stock that classifies as historic.

When you focus on the Windsor’s core the percentage of old stock (Pre-1960) is 61%, representing 23,360 dwellings (of 38,420). To put it another way, City of Windsor nearly has more dwellings built before the 1960s than the two-thirds of all the homes in the rest of the CMA (towns of Tecumseh, LaSalle, Amherstburg and Lakeshore with 39,045 dwellings).This aged housing stock in the city core leads to a number of disconnects when attempting to attract people and developers to Windsor’s centre. With the core construction only growing by 5% since 2000, the age of the existing stock shows, as there are few new buildings with built in modern amenities being built to entice people to stay in that part of the city.

Types of Housing Stock

Windsor is by far the largest and most dense area of housing in the region, this is largely stating the obvious but the exact make up of that stock is important. When looking at our communities, single detached homes are the dominant form of habitation, for those desiring a more urbanist lifestyle this presents an immediate road block.

Table 2: Housing Stock by Type by Community[6]

Type of Dwelling Windsor Total Windsor Core Tecumseh LaSalle Lakeshore Amherstburg Essex Kingsville Leamington
Single-detached house 54,615 (62.2%) 21,955 (52.5%) 7,110 (82.1%) 8,615 (87.0%) 11,340 (92.0%) 6,915

(85.1%)

6,640 (85.2%) 6,625 (85.9%) 6,615

(67.1%)

Apartment; building that has five or more stories 11,525 (13.12%) 7,735 (18.50%) 420 (4.85%) 115 (1.16%) 0 (0%) 895

(9.07%)

730 (9.36%) 1,060 (13.74%) 2,715 (27.52%)
   Movable dwelling 15 (<0.00%) 0 0 0 235 (0.02%) 0 375 (0.05) 30 (<0.00%) 15 (<0.00%)
Semi-detached house 3,945 (4.49%) 940 (2.25%) 455 (5.26%) 565 (5.71%) 235 (1.91%) 110 65 (0.385) 200 (2.59%) 855 (8.67%)
Row houses 5,420 (6.17%) 1,945 (4.65%) 445 (5.14%) 135 (1.36%) 270 (2.19%) 330 (4.06%) 265 (3.40%) 410 (5.31%) 680 (6.89%)
Apartment; duplex 3,260 (3.71%) 2,750 (6.58%) 60 (0.69%) 50 (0.51%) 60 (0.49%) 85 (1.05%) 65 (0.83%) 80 (1.04%) 295 (2.99%)
Apartment; building that has fewer than five stories 8,920 (10.16%) 6,340 (15.17%) 160 (1.85%) 410 (4.14%) 180 (1.46%) 350 (4.31%) 325 (4.17%) 355 (4.60%) 865 (8.77%)
Total Dwellings                           87,830                              41,800                        8,655                      9,900                    12,330                             8,125                         7,795                     7,715                        9,865

In parsing Windsor and looking into the core it is home to the bulk of the high rise apartment stock (7,725 of 11,525); duplex apartments (2,750 of 3,260) and low rise apartment units (6,340 of 8,920) are in the core. At the same time, 21,955 of 54,615 of single detached homes are found within Windsor Core which is a sign of the suburban lifestyles that have taken root in our region.

Row houses and semi-detached homes are actually under represented across most of the region, with LaSalle being the only community that exceed the national average. Unfortunately for urbanists, much of that development is coming from new “sprawling neighbourhoods” that are being built on the fringes of Windsor.

When you compare local housing breakdown to the Canadian average and other communities in Ontario you can see the skewed nature of Windsor’s housing market.

Table 3: Housing Stock by Type Compared to Areas outside of Windsor Essex[7]

Windsor (city) Canada Average Hamilton London Kingston Kitchener Waterloo
Single-detached house 62% 55% 58% 51% 50% 50% 58%
Apartment, building that has five or more storeys 13% 9% 16% 20% 15% 14% 11%
Movable dwelling 0% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Semi-detached house 4% 5% 3% 4% 8% 6% 5%
Row house 6% 6% 11% 12% 7% 11% 12%
Apartment, duplex 4% 5% 3% 3% 4% 3% 2%
Apartment, building that has fewer than five storeys 10% 18% 9% 10% 17% 15% 11%

 Windsor finds itself certainly 7% more single detached homes and 8% less low rise apartments compared to national averages. The national measure for high rise apartments is skewed downwards in that they are predominantly found in cities but when compared to other communities Windsor lags behind many of them.  

If you add in what other groups and Statistics Canada call the “urban area of Windsor” which is represented by the CMA percentage of single detached homes skyrocket.

Total number of occupied private dwellings by structural type of dwelling Windsor CMA
Single-detached house 70%
Apartment, building that has five or more storeys 10%
Movable dwelling 0%
Semi-detached house 4%
Row house 5%
Apartment, duplex 3%
Apartment, building that has fewer than five storeys 8%
Other single-attached house 0%

When Councilor John Elliot in a recent City Council meeting said “sprawl is our future” in response to a discussion around the issue related to a proposed new hospital development.[8] Whether he knew it or not he was right, sprawl is our future because it is our past and present.

The fact of the matter is that this isn’t a problem that will be easily fixed, if it can be in the near term, particularly when you start looking at peoples housing preferences and broader geographic considerations.

Hi Human, I want to walk now!

Hi Human, I want to go for a walk now!

Citations 

[1] Statistics Canada. Structural Types of Dwellings and Collectives. Retrieved from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/ref/guides/98-313-x/98-313-x2011001-eng.cfm

[2] Statistics Canada. (2015) Commuting to Work. The National Household Survey. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-012-x/99-012-x2011003_1-eng.pdf

[3] Statistics Canada. (2011) Census of Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

[4] NOTE about data: All of the above data is taken from community census profiles. For the Windsor CMA an additional extraction was made at a Census Tract Level. The “Core” is defined by extracting separating all Census Tracts that run from Sandwich Town to Lauzon Parkway, North of Tecumseh Road with the exception of some minor overlapping areas beyond that boundary. 4 Census Tracts due to poor response had their data suppressed by Statistics Canada.

[5] Grace Macaluso (2016) Housing boom should last two more years, says real estate board. Windsor Star.  http://windsorstar.com/business/local-business/housing-boom-should-last-two-more-years-says-real-estate-board

[6] Statistics Canada. (2011) Census of Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

[7] Statistics Canada. (2011) Census of Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

[8] Jon Liedtke (2016) OPINION: THE MEGA-HOSPITAL HAS POTENTIAL TO UNITE OUR REGION. Windsor Independent. http://www.windsorindependent.com/culture/opinion-mega-hospital-windsor/