Hamilton Ontario is a metropolitan area located at the west end of Lake Ontario, situated directly on Burlington Bay, 68 km southwest of Toronto Ontario (Weaver, 2012). Originally, the city boundaries were much smaller; however, as of 2001 Hamilton Ontario city planning changed its boundaries to include the neighboring communities of Dundas, Flamborough, Ancaster and Stoney Creek. The population of Hamilton is currently 771,000 as of 2015, with an area of 1,371.5 square kilometers and a population density of 525.6 persons per square kilometer (Statistics Canada, 2016). Hamilton has strong urban sectors such as the steel manufacturing plants which once dominated employment and economic growth of the city. The study area (Figure 1) chosen for this project was decided based on a need for improved food security in the city.
Figure 1. Map of the Community of Hamilton.
Individuals that live in downtown areas within Hamilton have had difficulty finding available food services to purchase nutritious food (Hamilton News, 2016). A large number of vulnerable individuals live in the city, resulting in frequent visits to local food banks (Hamilton News 2016). Along with limited access to healthy food in the downtown area, Hamilton is facing closures of major grocery retailers, leaving significant spatial gaps causing distinguished food deserts (Weinberg,2016). The Hamilton Spectator (2014) indicated that 12% of people living in Hamilton are food insecure. The downtown area of Hamilton has between 41-58% of people living with low income, an alarming rate as places outside of the downtown core have between 0 - 25% (Mayo et.al 2016). With the increase in food prices and the rate of poverty in the community, there is a clear issue within the city as social linkages between the discussed factors lead to susceptible areas for food insecurity within the city.
The Community of Hamilton will be the study area of this analysis since the food security issue is located primarily within the urban area of the city of Hamilton. The Community of Hamilton is the primary urban center of the city and home to many determinants of food insecurity such as low income.