How much is Hamilton’s green space really worth?

In our 2013 Fall Vista newsletter we take a shot at calculating just how much Hamilton’s green space is really worth in economic terms. Here’s the breakdown of how we got there! If you have any questions about the math, feel free to email article author and Foundation Administrative Coordator Toby Tresidder at toby.tresidder@conservationhamilton.ca.

$1.2 billion in Home Equity:

1.) We started by picking the three communities with the highest concentration of conservation lands in Hamilton: Ancaster, Dundas and Flamborough.

2.) According to the REALTORS Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB)’s August report found at http://www.rahb.ca/2013/09/august-real-estate-market-experiences-increases-in-listings-sales-average-price/ the seasonally-adjusted average sale price for residential properties in Hamilton-Burlington was $384,341.

3.) According to the same report 48 properties in Ancaster sold for an average price of $460,081, 23 in Dundas for an average of $430,970 and 20 in Flamborough for an average of $479,875. This works out to an average sale price of $457,073 which is $72,732 above the market-wide average sale price listed in the previous point.

4.) A study commissioned by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans by the University of British Columbia calculates the positive impact of green space proximity to account for between 10 and 15 percent of a home’s value. You can find the study at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/241452.pdf. A literature review of other similar studies conducted by American Trails (http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/NPSecon1.pdf) found that proximity to green space accounted for between 5 and 33 percent of a home’s value.

5.) If we take a conservative view that half of the $72,732 that we looked at was owing to proximity to green space, that amount would be $36,366 or 7.9 percent of the average sale price.

6.) According to the Ward Profiles on the City of Hamilton’s website at https://www.hamilton.ca/city-initiatives/strategies-actions/ward-profiles, there are 33,215 homes in Ancaster (Ward 12), Dundas (Ward 13) and Flamborough (Wards 14 & 15).

7.) If we multiply the number of homes in these Wards (33,215) by the average amount of equity in each home that is owing to proximity to green space ($36,366) we get a total of $1,207,896,690 ($1.2 billion) in equity owing to green space.

$23.9 million per year – Health Care Savings

1.) A study at the University Essex (http://www.hphpcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Nature-Childhood-and-Health-iCES-Occ-Paper-2009-2-FINAL.pdf) estimates that £2,243 in health care costs were saved if an individual spends regular time in nature.

2.) At the time of publication, we used the http://www.xe.com/ currency calculator to change this amount to Canadian dollars, which came out to $3,983.

3.) There are over 6,000 individuals who hold passes to Hamilton Conservation Areas through the Nature’s Rewards program: http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/natures-rewards.

4.) We multiplied the number of passholders (6,000) by the average cost savings ($3,983) and came out with a total of $23,898,000 in total health care savings as a result of community members visiting local Conservation Areas each year.

$11.9 million per year – Agriculture

1.) Hamilton Economic Development estimates the value of Hamilton’s agricultural industry at $1.26 billion in the study found here: http://www.investinhamilton.ca/key-industries/agri-business-food-processing/.

2.) European scientists estimate that 9.5 per cent of agricultural production is reliant on wild pollinators in a study reported here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080915122725.htm

3.) 9.5 per cent of Hamilton’s $1.26 billion agricultural industry accounts for $11,970,000 in economic impact each year.

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