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Metropolitan Centre: A Business District Analysis

As our Region’s dominant urban centre, the Metropolitan Centre is a major concentration of people, jobs and industries. It’s also been most dramatically impacted by the pandemic, with two-thirds of its employees having transitioned to working from home.

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Man crossing downtown street at dusk


The Metropolitan Centre (MC) is our Region’s dominant urban centre – with its towers, people and energy defining us for ourselves and the world.

The MC is the centre of finance, consulting, marketing and government. It is anchored by a concentration of teaching hospitals and institutions. It is also the Innovation Corridor’s central hub of culture and entertainment that drew more than 28 million annual visitors before the pandemic. 

More than any other Business District, the pandemic has hollowed out the MC. Two-thirds of its employees have transitioned to working from home. Others have lost their jobs, as restaurants closed their doors and tourism came to a halt. Still, lowering COVID transmission risk and reimagining the way downtown is used can lead to a robust return of people and spur economic recovery. 

Employment figures for Metropolitan Centre

+550,000 jobs (as of 2016)

21,880 businesses (as of 2018)

27km² in geographic size 

67% of employees are able to work remotely

Top 3 sectors by employment share: 

  • Finance and Insurance (21%)
  • Professional, scientific and technical services (18%)
  • Health care and social assistance (9%)

Challenges and Opportunities for the District

The MC sits at the core of the fastest-growing central city in North America. It is the nexus of Ontario and Canada’s economic and innovation ecosystems. Pre-pandemic, it was facing challenges that come with such strong growth: congestion and a stressed transit system, affordability and rising inequality. 

Impact of the Pandemic

The pandemic has had a deep impact on the Metropolitan Centre. The majority of workers in the MC shifted to remote or hybrid work. Visitor and tourist traffic declined sharply, resulting in $8.35 billion in lost economic activity tied to visitor spending for the City of Toronto in 2020. The MC’s once-bustling streets have grown quiet, with in-person spending declining by more than 60%. Questions are being raised about the prospect of workers returning to the MC at a pre-pandemic scale. 

Recovery Post-Pandemic and Future Growth 

The pandemic, as tragic as it has been, is also a once-in-a-century opportunity to build back better and reimagine our urban environment and redesign our transportation systems to make them work better for everyone. We must leverage digital and smart city technology to build confidence that our core is a safe place to live, work and visit. A post-pandemic recovery also requires a bold strategy to help revitalize the visitor economy and re-establish the MC as a preeminent destination for leisure and business tourism. Finally, we must seize this opportunity to reskill, upskill and ultimately empower our workers. 

Dive deep into the Metropolitan Centre

Dive deep into the Metropolitan Centre.
Masked Man with bag on shoulder

More Pandemic Recovery & Growth Data

Explore more outcomes from this Board of Trade initiative.

Explore the Other Business Districts

Visit these unique place-based Business Districts and learn what each needs to grow during and after the pandemic.


Aerial view of parked shipping trucks.
Goods Production & Distribution

The essential nature of manufacturing and logistics means it has seen the least amount of economic disruption during the pandemic.


Smiling cashier with shopper
Services & Mixed Use

The Services and Mixed Use District has a diversity of economic activity that has allowed is to escape major economic disruption during the pandemic.


Mississauga Square One bus stop
Regional Centres

Home to major transit hubs and a high concentration of retail activity, Regional Centres were impacted by the large drop in consumer traffic due to the pandemic.


Doctors conferring
Knowledge Creation

Dominated by the presence of the health care and social assistance and educational services sectors, the Knowledge Creation District is critical to the Region’s innovation ecosystem.