Whitehorse sprawl takes over Yukon in Maclean's density map
Map envisions size of cities if Canada's entire population moved there
Urban sprawl is a growing concern for many Canadian cities, but there's disagreement about whether it's something Northerners should worry about.
According to a map published by Maclean's magazine, it might be.
The map imagines how large various cities would be if Canada's entire population moved there, at current density levels.
Whitehorse would span more than 600,000 square kilometres, bigger than the entire Yukon territory. Iqaluit would need 275,000 square kilometres, an area equal to one third of Baffin Island.
But Ian Robertson, a Whitehorse urban planner, says people should approach those figures with caution.
"I really think that the Maclean's map is a good example of a graphic misrepresentation, an interpretation of facts that is interesting or cute but really very misleading," Robertson says.
He says that's because the urban boundaries of Northern cities are much larger than their actual built-up areas.
For instance, Yellowknife is surrounded by Great Slave Lake and two contaminated mine sites. Iqaluit is constrained by rough terrain and the high cost of construction.
Still, all three Northern capitals have city plans that try to discourage sprawl and for good reason, Robertson says.
"The principal reason for controlling sprawl is to limit a community's physical footprint on the land and by densification you can get more efficient use of infrastructure and you can manage the costs of operating the city better than you can when it's sprawling out," says Robertson.
Population-wise, Whitehorse continues to grow in relation to other communities in the territory and now comprises about 75 per cent of Yukon's total population.
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