Yousaf Shah on forecasting process for regional planning

Yousaf Shah of Hemson Consulting presented “Demand Forecasting for land use and transportation planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area” for the UT-ITE seminar series on November 9, 2018.

Components of the forecasting process

Yousaf presented the components of the Hemson forecasting process to provide an overview of how they determine the demand inputs for land-use and transportation planning in the GTHA. Key elements of the forecast are:

  • population, including the effects of birth and death rates, and net migration;
  • housing, with household formation a function of the probability of different age groups occupying different type of housing;
  • employment, including core socioeconomic factors such as labour force participation rate for each age group, unemployment rate, and net in-commuting to estimate available jobs locally;
  • adjustment of historical trends based on assumptions, e.g. permits and applications, policy goals, market trends, and land supply.

Land budgeting

Yousaf also explained the process of “land budgeting” in which municipalities incorporate forecast population, household, and employment growth to determine the amount of land required to accommodate the growth.

Demographics and land use development

Yousaf underlined the importance of understanding the dynamics between demographics and land use development. As our population ages, forecasting is increasingly important, as the aging population affects the economy, employment, share of work-related trips, portion of people with work-based health plans, and collected income tax. The effect of an aging population is also prominent in land use development, as the population’s physical environment preferences – for housing, workplaces or other activities related to land use – are affected by age.

These are just a few points about the Hemson forecasting process shared in Yousaf Shah’s presention. For more details please refer to his presentation slides or view the videorecording of his presentation.


Over the previous decade, planning agencies across the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton Area (GTHA) (as well as the broader Greater Golden Horseshoe) have endeavoured to better align land-use and infrastructure planning in accommodating the goals of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Growth Plan, as well as related plans, are based on a series of quantitative exercises to understand the dynamics between demographics and development. Over the course of this presentation, Yousaf Shah will walk through the components of Hemson forecasting process to provide an overview of how they determine the demand inputs for land-use and transportation planning in the region.

Short Biography

Head shot of Yousaf Shah

Yousaf Shah

Yousaf Shah is a Consultant at Hemson with over six years of professional experience in forecasting, urban planning and sector-specific studies. Mr. Shah has worked on a number of forecasting assignments for public agencies across Canada. He has prepared forecasts for the Cities of Toronto and Brampton, the Region of Peel, Metrolinx, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and Enbridge Gas Distribution in Ontario as well as a number of clients in Western Canada. He has also undertaken economic development and economic impact studies for various clients across Ontario, including the City of Toronto’s Planning Downtown: The Outlook for Office and Institutional Employment to 2041.

In addition to his work as a planner at Hemson, Mr. Shah is also pursuing the Certificate in Big Data and Predictive Analytics at Ryerson University, where he is learning how to apply machine learning techniques to his work at Hemson Consulting. Mr. Shah moderated a panel of smart city and transportation experts at the Smartweek 2014 conference at the University of Toronto and co-curated the “Big Data in Planning” issue of the Ontario Planning Journal (June 2017).

Mr. Shah is a Registered Professional Planner (RPP), a Professional Land Economist (PLE) and a LEED Accredited Professional with the US Green Building Council (USGBC).