Canada is stuck in traffic. We’ve followed a traditional suburban expansion model for our communities for so long now, whereby residential areas are so separated from employment / commercial areas, that now significant health and economic costs have been the result. Our local planning / political processes seem unable to embrace mixed land uses and even a modest level of densification that might better support public transit and then alter the associated economic and health impacts.
Average daily commuting times in Canada (to and from work) have increased from 54 minutes (1992) to 63 minutes (2005) and Canadians now spend 32 working days a year sitting in traffic (2005) – up 5 days since 1992. Commute distances have increased 10% in the past decade.
The cost of this congestion is staggering: $6.7 billion to the national economy in 2000, estimated to be $15 billion today (1% of national GDP), with $3.3 billion in the Greater Toronto Area alone.
There are enormous costs in lost productivity and stress. L’Agence de la Sante de Montreal estimates that each additional hour spent sitting in a car adds to a 6% increase in obesity, while international studies correlate commuting with obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress and insomnia.