The urban area of Hamilton, as delineated by the local planning department, will be the focus of the case study for this project (Figure 1). Although, in this project the land-use suitability analysis has been conducted for the entire Hamilton CMA. Hamilton is one of Canada’s major historic manufacturing centres. However, in past decades there have been economic changes that have seen downsizing and cessation of manufacturing (CMHC, 2004). This trend has led to abandonment or property deterioration throughout Hamilton, which has created a large number of vacant properties. Some of these vacant sites are brownfield sites, that have significant remediation costs associated with their redevelopment. In response to the number of vacant brownfield sites throughout the city, the municipality has created an environmental remediation and site enhancement (ERASE) community improvement plan (CIP) (CMHC, 2004). The ERASE CIP is a set of programs aimed at helping the redevelopment of brownfields with the assistance of grants for potential developers, to help with the cost of environmental remediation.
As a urban centre with numerous vacant lands, and with a specific program aimed at redeveloping these lands, Hamilton has been chosen as the study site of this project. The urban area has been chosen specifically for a variety of reasons. A central problem that urban agriculture addresses is food insecurity, which is closely linked to poverty. According to a study by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton, close to one-fifth of Hamiltonians live in poverty, compared to a national average of 12% (SPRC, 2012; Statistics Canada, 2011). More concerning is that closer to one-quarter of children under 18 are living in poverty (SPRC, 2012). The poverty problem in Hamilton is further justification for it as the study site for this study of siting an urban farm on vacant lands. Along with addressing urban food insecurity this project also aims to prioritize the mitigation of negative environmental effects resulting from agriculture.
Figure 1: Study Site - Hamilton and Urban Area