How hot is your neighbourhood?
Analysis by CBC shows that immigrants and people with low income are most likely to live in the hottest urban areas. This makes them much more vulnerable to heat waves, with deadly consequences.
Journalists Naël Shiab and Isabelle Bouchard write, “When your weather app tells you it’s going to be a hot day, you might think it’ll be a hot day for everyone in your city. But street configuration, building materials, the presence of vegetation and closeness to a body of water significantly impact how city residents experience the weather.
Their new CBC website allows you to enter your postal code to learn how your neighbourhood compares.
Looking at aggregate data across Canada, the journalists made a few observations:
- The higher the residents’ income, the cooler their neighbourhood, especially in metropolitan areas with 300,000 or more residents.
- We found something else, too: the more immigrants, the hotter the area. Again, this is mostly true for the biggest cities, where many newcomers live.
- But why are some areas hotter than others? The lack of green spaces is an important factor, our analysis shows. The less vegetation, the hotter it gets.
“We often say maps of trees are maps of race and wealth,” said Carly Ziter, an associate professor of biology at Concordia University in Montreal who specializes in urban ecology, in reaction to CBC’s results. The physical mechanism of cooling, like what the trees provide, is among Ziter’s areas of expertise.
- Read “Here’s who lives in your city’s worst heat islands” by Naël Shiab and Isabelle Bouchard, published by CBC on July 13, 2022