Downtown Toronto’s boundaries may vary depending on what part of the region a person hails from, and these discrepancies are evident in a spirited online debate that emerged on Thursday afternoon.
A post shared on X by Globe and Mail reporter Oliver Moore is currently generating discussion about how people define downtown Toronto. Originating as a newsroom conversation at the Globe, Moore took to X to poll the public on their definition of where downtown begins and ends.
Interesting discussion in the newsroom about what are the boundaries of downtown Toronto. Quite a range of views, it turns out. City staff make it Bathurst to Don and lake to roughly Dupont. What are your boundaries?
— Oliver Moore (@moore_oliver) February 8, 2024
It’s an increasingly polarizing question amid a generational growth spurt for Toronto that has seen high-density development spill well beyond the traditional confines of the city centre.
The idea of “downtown” has changed over generations, one notable example being the former Uptown Theatre at Yonge and Bloor, which was named when it was well north of the city’s heart a few kilometres to the south. After the core expanded north, many now consider the theatre’s former site to be just within the northern limits of the current downtown.
Dozens have responded to Moore’s post with their own interpretations of downtown’s boundaries, though the only thing people seem to be able to agree on is Lake Ontario as the southern extremity of the city centre.
People are definitely going to correct you if you say Roncy is downtown
— The Hyperreal (@THyperreal) February 8, 2024
It’s a debate some have been having for years.
My friends debated this in Discord a few years ago, leading to this series of absolutely incoherent maps https://t.co/D2UB6d6PNF pic.twitter.com/EqfCiEgeF3
— Evan Boyce (@evboyce) February 8, 2024
Some of the responses were more definitive than others, like that of former Toronto Chief Planner Gregg Lintern.
Generally from a planning pov from central area plan days and TOcore (and cordon count pov) it’s Bathurst Don Waterffont & CPR / Rosedale Valley – it once had east and west wings back in the day
— Gregg Lintern (@GreggLintern) February 8, 2024
Google Maps appears to align with many commenters’ interpretations of the boundaries, set as the Don River in the east, Bathurst in the west, the lake to the south and Bloor Street to the north.
Google Maps, final answer. https://t.co/xpzHezzTP3 pic.twitter.com/i0bi7Woi1U
— Mark Shaw (@Markshawtoronto) February 8, 2024
Other answers are a bit less black and white. In one response, journalist John Lorinc mused, “Downtown, like middle class, is a highly malleable concept.”
Another echoed this sentiment, explaining how for residents of inner suburbs and outer 905 residents will often refer to broader areas of the city as “downtown” relative to their locations.
I’m in West Queen close to Dufferin & feel like I’m in the city but not downtown, but I’m from Scarbs & used to commute…Scarberians would definitely call my current end of town “downtown”. Dupont & the Don are probably correct.
— Jerome Persaud (@TdotRome) February 8, 2024
Speaking from personal experience, I can think of at least two instances where visitors from the 905 referred to my midtown neighbourhood as “downtown.”
One commenter explained how this relativity scales up as distance increases from the city centre, noting how “If I speak to someone in France, Milton is in Toronto.”
It depends on who you talk to. If I talk to my neighbours, Coxwell/Danforth is not downtown. If I speak to someone in 905, Coxwell is downtown.
If I speak to someone in France, Milton is in Toronto.
— Nathan Fitzgerald (@nat_fitz1) February 8, 2024
And to that last point, I say, we’ve gotta draw the line somewhere.