Public green spaces provide health and psychological benefits for urban residents called ecosystem services (ES). These services are derived from the effects of vegetation on the surrounding environment, most notably, through reducing air pollutants and supporting local ecosystems. Evidence suggests, however, that the spatial distribution of green spaces is often influenced by socioeconomics, which creates environmental justice issues associated with higher-income residents receiving a higher proportion of ES.
Using Hamilton as a case study this investigation examines the relationship between air quality, socioeconomics, vegetation, and green space using a combination of published and field gathered datasets. General observations from this analysis indicate a concentration of air pollutants in the Eastern region of Hamilton towards the downtown core.
Current field air quality metrics (PM 2.5 and VOC) were collected from seven green spaces randomly stratified across Hamilton, based on socioeconomic level as defined by the 2016 Census. To assess the social perception of green spaces and ES, survey data was collected from 80 undergraduate students at McMaster University. Data from each component of the investigation was analyzed independently in R 3.3 using general linearized models and chi-squared table analysis. Results were found to resemble trends observed in the preliminary analysis and the literature, supporting evidence of disparity regarding ES exposure for residents living in neighbourhoods of differing socioeconomic status. This research is important for understanding environmental justice issues in Hamilton, Ontario, and has implications for urban planning practices.