Regional Municipality of Durham

The Regional Municipality of Durham (/ˈdʊərəm/), informally referred to as Durham Region, is a regional municipality in Southern Ontario, Canada. Located east of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of York, Durham forms the east-end of the Greater Toronto Area and part of the Golden Horseshoe region. It has an area of approximately 2,500 km2 (970 sq mi). The regional government is headquartered in Whitby.

Durham Region
Regional Municipality of Durham
Clockwise from top right: Oshawa, Ajax Waterfront Park, Nautical Village in Pickering, Uxbridge, Whitby Harbour, Darlington Provincial Park
Official seal of Durham Region
"A Great Place to Grow"
Map showing Durham Region's location in Ontario
Map showing Durham Region's location in Ontario
Coordinates: 43°55′N 78°56′W / 43.917°N 78.933°W / 43.917; -78.933Coordinates: 43°55′N 78°56′W / 43.917°N 78.933°W / 43.917; -78.933
Established1974 [note 1]
 • Chair
Governing Body
John Henry
Durham Regional Council
 • Land2,523.80 km2 (974.44 sq mi)
91.3 m (299.5 ft)
 • Total645,862
 • Density255.9/km2 (663/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)

The southern portion of the region, on Lake Ontario is primarily suburban in nature, forming the eastern end of the 905 area code belt of suburbs around Toronto. The northern area comprises rural areas and small towns. The city of Pickering, town of Ajax and the township of Uxbridge are part of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, while the communities of Oshawa, Whitby, and Clarington comprise the Oshawa Census Metropolitan Area.

Administrative divisionsEdit

Durham Region consists of the following municipalities (in order of population):

Municipality 2016 Population[2]
City of Oshawa 159,458
Town of Whitby 128,377
Town of Ajax 119,677
Municipality of Clarington 92,013
City of Pickering 91,771
Township of Scugog 21,617
Township of Uxbridge 21,176
Township of Brock 11,642

It also contains one First Nations reserve: Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Local governmentEdit


The Region of Durham was established in 1974 as one of several new regional governments in the Province of Ontario, primarily in fast-growing urban and suburban areas. It encompasses areas that had been part of Ontario County and the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham, and was the culmination of a series of studies into municipal governance in the "Oshawa-Centred Region" that had begun in the late 1960s.

The boundaries of the region were different from what had been anticipated and announced in late 1972. For example, it was widely expected that Pickering would be annexed to Metropolitan Toronto, which residents had supported in a ballot question. In addition, the region was proposed to extend further east to include Hope Township and the town of Port Hope, and did not include the northern townships of Scott, Brock and Thorah.


Under the Köppen climate classification, the Durham Region has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb).


Historical populations
2016[5], 2011[6], 2006[7], earlier[8][8][9]

The Regional Municipality of Durham is predominately white representing 70.1% of the population. There is also a large population of South Asians totaling 8.6% of the population and Black Canadians totaling 8.0% of the population. Smaller ethnic groups include Filipino with 2.3% of the population, Aboriginal with 2.0%, Chinese with 1.9%, Mixed visible minority with 1.3%, Latin American with 1.0% and West Asian (Middle Eastern) with 1.0%.


The regional government, within its geographic area, has sole responsibility for the following:

  • Durham Regional Police Service provides local policing for all municipalities.
  • Durham Region Transit provides public transit service
  • Main roads, traffic lights and controls
  • Strategic land use planning
  • Subdivision and condominium approval
  • Water supply and distribution
  • Sewage collection and treatment
  • Collection of recyclable materials
  • Waste collection, except in Whitby and Oshawa
  • Waste disposal
  • Public health and social services

The region also provides services in:

Local municipalities have responsibility for:

  • Local planning
  • Local streets and sidewalks
  • Fire protection
  • Parks and recreation
  • Tax collection
  • Building inspection and permits
  • Public libraries
  • Licensing
  • Waste collection in Whitby and Oshawa


With a current population of 700,000, the population is expected to exceed one million by 2041.[10] Of considerable potential impact to the future of the economy in Durham Region is the proposed federal airport in north Pickering. The federal government acquired 18,600 acres of land in Pickering under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1972 for the construction of a future airport. However, the project has remained in limbo since and much of the land has been leased for farming.[11] In January 2018, a report released by Urban Strategies, Inc. indicated that the Pickering airport lands provide the best opportunity to meet the growing demand for air travel and goods movement in the Greater Toronto Area, demand that Toronto Pearson airport will eventually be unable to accommodate.[12]

As of December 2016, Durham Region had over 250 energy, environment and engineering (EN3) related businesses that employed over 11,000 individuals, making Durham Region the top employer of EN3 professionals in the Greater Toronto and Hamiton Area (GTHA).[13]

Durham Region's agricultural sector is one of the largest primary goods-producing sectors in the region.[14] The agriculture sector is supported by local organizations such as Durham Farm Fresh who assist in the marketing, promotion, and advocacy for local food.

In 2018, the Canadian motion picture and video exhibition industries generated $1.9 billion in operating revenue, marking a 5.7% increase from 2016. The majority of this operating revenue was contributed by Ontario, at 42.7%.[15] The film industry is active and growing in Durham Region, due to increasing demands for locations and talent across Ontario.[16] In June 2015, a major film studio development was announced in Pickering.[17]

The innovative technology sector is emerging in Durham Region, supported by a Regional Innovation Centre in Oshawa and a technology accelerator in Whitby.[18][19] Whitby is the location of the headquarters of 360 Insights a significant employer in Durham Region.[20]

83 percent of Durham residents over 18 have a certificate, diploma or degree. [21]Youth unemployment is a major issue in the region: at 23% by the Durham Workforce Authority in 2013, it is 17% higher than the provincial average. Emerging employment sectors in Durham Region include sustainable energy, local food production, bio-sciences, next-generation automotive, logistics, advanced manufacturing, construction, and technology.[22]

Major employers in Durham Region include General Motors of Canada, Ontario Power Generation, Lakeridge Health, Durham District School Board, Durham College, the Ontario Ministry of Finance, Minacs Worldwide, TDS Automotive, and University of Ontario Institute of Technology.[23]

Manufacturing and Energy IndustriesEdit

Durham Region is a major centre of the automotive industry in Canada. Oshawa is the Canadian headquarters of General Motors and home of what was once GM's largest plant in North America. In addition, the Canadian headquarters of Volkswagen is located in the region, BMW was located in the region until moving to Richmond Hill in 2010. The worldwide recession and spike in oil prices resulted in large-scale layoffs at GM beginning in 2008, along with the closure of the Oshawa Truck plant in 2009. This dramatically reduced employment levels at GM, and also resulted in significant employment losses and closures in the auto parts industry. On November 26, 2018, General Motors announced that no future product would be allotted to Oshawa beyond 2019 and that manufacturing operations would cease in December 2019. In October 2019, General Motors announced the construction of a 55-acre autonomous vehicle test track in Oshawa to be named the Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track.[24]

Durham Region is the Clean Energy Capital of Canada. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the largest employer in the region. OPG is Canada's largest owner of nuclear power plants with responsibility for operating the Pickering A, B, and Darlington nuclear generating stations, all of which are located in Durham Region. In June of 2019 OPG announced it would be building a new corporate campus in Durham Region, in the Municipality of Clarington, by 2024.[25]Ontario Tech University offers the first accredited program of its kind in Canada with an undergraduate degree program in Nuclear Engineering. It is also a leader is Energy Systems and Nuclear Science programs. The Clean Energy Research Lab (CERL) is a facility focused on pioneering clean energy research.[26]


Major shopping centres located in Durham Region include:


400-series freewaysEdit

  •   Highway 401 traverses the region from west to east, entering in the Rouge Valley and exiting east of Newtonville.
  •   Highway 407, a privately owned toll freeway, enters the region south of Highway 7 and travels east to Durham Regional Road 1 (Brock Road) before transitioning to a provincially owned highway, Highway 407E. This route travels generally parallel to Highway 7 until the community of Brooklin in Whitby extending east to Highway 35 / 115 towards Lindsay and Peterborough.
  •   Highway 412, part of the Highway 407E project, connects south to Highway 401 parallel and east of Durham Regional Road 23 (Lakeridge Road).
  •   Highway 418, opened on December 9, 2019,[27] runs between Durham Regional Road 34 (Courtice Road) and Road 57 (Waverley Road) from Highway 401, southwest of Bowmanville, north to near Hampton (north of Durham Regional Road 4 (Taunton Road)), connecting with the extension of Highway 407.

Other highwaysEdit

Note: This is the only region of the Greater Toronto Area where the Trans-Canada Highway passes through. The TC's Central Ontario Route enters from the northeast at Manilla along Highway 7, makes an abrupt turn near Sunderland onto Highway 12 heading north towards Beaverton and the northern regional boundary.

Public transportationEdit

Public transit in the Region is operated by Durham Region Transit, which was formed in January 2006 when the five preexisting municipal public transit systems in the region were merged under the Region's administration.

A DRT bus awaits passengers at the Ajax GO station

In addition, GO Transit provides the following services within the Region:

Air travelEdit

Although small airports such as the Oshawa Executive Airport exist in Durham Region, the main airport serving the region is Toronto Pearson International Airport. There is a long-standing proposal for a major new airport in Pickering.

Maritime InfrastructureEdit

Durham Region also has a small maritime industry centered on the Port of Oshawa. The port received around 50 lake freighters per year between 2007 and 2017 and acts as an export terminal for agricultural products from Durham and nearby regions.


The Durham District School Board operates all English-language secular public schools within Durham Region, except for those schools within Clarington, which are part of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. This is a holdover from the pre-1974 structure in which the area now forming Clarington was part of Durham County, while the other municipalities were part of Ontario County.

The Durham Catholic District School Board operates the separate English-language public Catholic school system within Durham Region, again with the exception of schools in Clarington, which are part of the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board.

Neither school board is an operating division of the regional government. Instead, as is true of all school boards in Ontario, they are separate entities with distinct but overlapped service areas. Elected public trustees responsible for their operation.

French-language school boards serving the municipality include the Conseil scolaire Viamonde and the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir.

Durham Secondary Academy and Middle School offers private elementary and secondary education for students in the Region of Durham.

The region also is home to Ontario Tech University, Ontario's fastest growing university[citation needed], Durham College, and Trent University Durham (Trent University's main campus is in Peterborough). The Ontario Tech and Durham College main campuses are located in north Oshawa. Durham College also has a satellite campus in Whitby, and Ontario Tech has one in Downtown Oshawa.

Ontario Tech University is a science, technology engineering and math (STEM)-focused, research driven institution. Ontario Tech is home to the [ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel, a research, development and testing facility available for rent to manufacturers of all descriptions, startup companies and researchers in Canada and around the globe. Ontario Tech University is rated number 1 in cross-sector research among Canadian undergraduate universities. Within 15 years of its founding, Ontario Tech quickly earned a reputation for computer science, ranking among the top 10 programs in Canada and 4th in Ontario.[28]

Durham College has campuses in Oshawa and Whitby, and has nine academic schools across a wide range of disciplines.[29]

Trent University Durham offers full and part-time undergraduate programs, as well as post-graduate certificates. Other key programs at Trent University Durham include Bachelors of Business Administration, Computing Systems, and Communications & Critical Thinking as well as a Master of Management, which is a 16 month professional master program. Trent University Durham announced in 2019 plans to expand their campus in Oshawa to include 200 on-campus residences, "creative learning spaces"[clarification needed], and academic space.[30]

Travel regionEdit

Durham Region lies within the Central Counties of Ontario, a tourism-related association.[31]

The top tourist attractions in Durham Region include Lake Ontario, Lake Scugog and Lake Simcoe, in particular for fishing. [32] Outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing are popular in the region, in particular in Uxbridge, Ontario, which calls itself the Trail Capital of Canada.[33] Darlington Provincial Park, Jungle Cat World, Parkwood Estate, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the Canadian Automotive Museum are other popular attractions.[34]

Tourism is a significant economic sector in Durham Region. Durham Region currently hosts more than four million visitors each year, who spend over $300 million.[35] A casino resort is under development in Durham Region which will include a casino resort, convention centre, film studios, indoor waterpark, cinemas, restaurants, office tower and an amphitheatre.[36][37]


  1. ^ Ontario County, and portions of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham were amalgamated in 1974 to form the regional municipality. The Durham portion of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham was initially established as Durham County in 1792, before it was amalgamated with Northumberland County in 1850 to form the United Counties. Ontario County was formed from York County in 1852. The two counties operated until 1974 when they were dissolved, and Ontario County and the Durham portion of the United Counties were amalgamated to form the regional municipality.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Census Profile, 2016 Census Durham, Regional municipality [Census division], Ontario". Statistics Canada. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  2. ^ Statistics Canada, Census Profile, 2016 Census: Ontario: Census subdivisions (municipalities)
  3. ^ "Bowmanville Mostert". Canadian Climate Normals 1981-2010 Station Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  4. ^ "Oshawa WPCP". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
  5. ^ "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013.
  7. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  9. ^ "(Code 3518) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  10. ^ "Community Profile". Invest Durham. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  11. ^ Boisvert, Nick (January 3, 2020). "After decades in limbo, 2020 could be a critical year for the Pickering Airport". CBC News. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  12. ^ "Capacity Where it Counts: The GTA East Airport at Pickering" (PDF). Urban Strategies, Inc. January 2018. p. 5. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  13. ^ "Energy, Environment and Engineering". Invest Durham. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  14. ^ "Agri-Business". Invest Durham. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Film and Television". Invest Durham. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  17. ^ Calis, Kristen (June 23, 2015). "Cameras to roll in Pickering". Metroland Media Group. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "1855 Whitby". Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "Innovative Technology". Invest Durham. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  20. ^ "360insights' Channel Success Platform™ Wins Three 2019 IT World Awards". August 7, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  21. ^ "Durham is home to five post-secondary institutions, which have been recognized for their academic programs; shaped by market needs, research and leading-edge thinking". Invest Durham. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  22. ^ O'Meara, Jennifer (December 27, 2019). "These are the job sectors that have a chance to flourish in Durham over the next 20 years". Metroland Media Group. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  23. ^ "Durham Region's top employers by headcount". Metroland Media Group. October 6, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  24. ^ "GM Canada Honours its Roots and Prepares for the Future with the Newly-Named 'CTC McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track'". General Motors Canada. October 22, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  25. ^,afd6c417-383e-4d55-b0ec-43c96d4f448b,07762a62-62cb-46ca-83ee-d849ce531dfa&newsId=a6862e69-fdf6-46ec-a1dc-efe8f3f992cd[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "Access to Top Talent". Invest Durham. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  27. ^ "Extension of Ontario Hwy. 407, new Hwy. 418 open east of Toronto". On-Site. Retrieved December 11, 2019. An eastern extension of Ontario Hwy. 407 and a new toll road to connect the lengthened highway to nearby Hwy. 401 opened Dec. 9 on the outskirts of Toronto.
  28. ^ "Ontario Tech No. 1 in cross-sector research among Canadian undergraduate universities". University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  29. ^ "Programs and Courses". Durham College. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  30. ^ "#GrowingTrentUDurham: Groundbreaking Marks Key Milestone for Expansion". Trent University. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  31. ^ "Central Counties Tourism". Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  32. ^ "Explore & Engage: Fishing". Durham Region - Durham Tourism. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  33. ^ "Trails of Uxbridge". Township of Uxbridge. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  34. ^ "About Durham Region". Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  35. ^ "Tourism Strategy". Invest Durham. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  36. ^ "DLive". Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  37. ^ "Future Tourism Development". Invest Durham. Retrieved December 11, 2020.

External linksEdit