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Photo: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe/Flickr

Contrary to popular belief that downsizing seniors are taking advantage of the condo booms in Canada’s major cities, the country’s aging population may be set on moving to the suburbs.

A new study from Concordia University used the latest census data (2006) from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver to map the moving habits of people aged 65 years and older. Zachary Patterson, a professor in the university’s geography department, said that individuals in that age group have been increasingly moving to car-dependent suburbs when they downsize over walkable urban centres.

“When you look at actual data rather than anecdotal evidence, it’s clear that seniors prefer the suburbs,” said Patterson.

Patterson says the trend is unfortunate. “Seniors living in highly automobile dependent suburbs who lose their licenses can suffer a decreased quality of life as a result,” he said in a press release. “At least if they live in central neighbourhoods with good access to medical services and public transit infrastructure they will not suffer so much from the loss of automobility.”

“The issue is important for planning future transportation systems, as well as for its implications on the future welfare of the large baby-boom generation now starting to enter retirement.”

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