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Showing posts from 2011

planning in principle

Ancaster Creek, pre-parking conditions at McMaster (C1965) McMaster University Campus Master Plan . March 2002 7.3.11 Existing treed areas along the rail alignment, Cootes Drive, Ancaster Creek and adjacent to Westaway Road, will be preserved as much as possible as the West Campus becomes intensified. 7.3.12 A number of opportunities exist for campus development to contribute to enhancing the water temperature, water quality and fish habitat of Ancaster Creek. A continuous stream buffer with a minimum width of 30 metres will be provided between the stream bank and the parking lot edges. This will in certain cases involve cutting back the edges of existing parking lots. The University will work with community partners to naturalize the buffer with native trees and shrubs. 7.3.13 Development of West Campus should proceed on the basis of an appropriate, state of the art stormwater management plan that directs site-related stormwater run-off water into a system of wet

Changing Desire for Nature Connection

“The importance of environmental protection and conservation is increasingly being recognized by society and, as people become more aware of the benefits of environmental protection, demand for passive settings and trails that connect people to nature is increasing,” CATCH Articles: Residents want more natural areas and trails    0 digg Dec 14, 2011 Hamiltonians identify more natural areas as their top priority for additional public spending on recreational facilities. More trails came second in the survey conducted as part of the  outdoor recreational study  received by councillors earlier this week, but the city is actually reducing annual funding for purchase of natural areas. The  survey  asked 800 randomly selected residents to rate more than two dozen recreational features on a scale from one to five, where one meant do not spend additional money and five meant definitely spend more. Just under three-quarters (74 percent) gave natural open space a four o

Zone M-ers

These four gentlemen took a hike with me into McMaster University's Zone "M" parking lot to take-in the history of the area, and to share thoughts on the potential future of this former Royal Botanical Gardens property, now a car-park. A very light rain was no trouble at all, we even did some litter pick up at the Marx Binkley cemetery. Thanks to Alvand from the Cootes Paradise Club for asking me to share some of my research with the group. Hopefully we can see this area restored over time to its original state.

Ponds and Parking - Hike through history

1963- pre parking In the 1960s McMaster University expanded rapidly. One casualty of the fast paced growth occurred when surface parking in the west campus effectively paved over a floodplain that had been property of the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Lost were trails, ponds and tranquility for what we now know as Parking Lot M. Wednesday, December 14th, take a walk across Cootes Drive with OPIRG McMaster coordinator of volunteers Randy Kay to explore this area and learn more about the history, and potential for restoration of lost habitat - sights include, Cootes Drive, Ancaster Creek, Trails, and a Pioneer Cemetery. 1972 - parking installed Meet at the Occupy Hamilton area of the McMaster Student Centre Atrium (to the far left of the fireplace) at 12:30pm - wear clothing suitable for hiking in any weather.

Cootes December Rain

The cold rain has not negatively impacted the beauty of Cootes Paradise, here seen from the waterfront trail looking west toward Princess Point, where a lone Great Blue Heron gracefully paced in search of a meal.

Homecoming Hollow

McMaster University: Saturday, October 1, 2011. The roar of happiness fills the air, as McMaster's football team takes a commanding lead in the annual Homecoming Weekend game. Even this far from the field of play the enthusiasm is audible, yet to my surprise, the parking lots west of campus are nearly empty...

25,000 reasons to vote in this contest

This has nothing to do with the upcoming election, and all to do with helping the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) win $25,000 from, gulp, an oil company. The plan is to use the cash to re-naturalize the famous "Burlington Heights" overlooking Cootes and the Hamilton Bay, reversing 200 years of environmental degradation The RBG describes the project this way: Royal Botanical Gardens will carry out the following activities: - Recreate pre-settlement vegetation communities by planting native plant species and removing non-native plant species that pose a threat to the area's environmental sustainability. This will also alleviate the need for power mowing, which will help reduce our carbon footprint. - Rejuvenate the land by converting an abandoned parking lot to a natural setting, to promote the growth of new vegetation from surrounding woodlands. - Convert a former maintenance works area to seasonal wetlands. - Highlight the area's historical and natural si
What would the world look like if Nature had rights? Looking to give the natural world a chance, it appears Bolivia is moving to awarding nature equal rights to humans. plastic litter in Spencer Creek, Dundas ON - photo by Randy Kay Never mind the fact that human rights are often trampled when government or corporate power/profit is concerned, but this initiative at least recognizes the fact that all species deserve a fair chance. And the law recognizes the interconnectedness of all living things, and the fact that we NEED the natural world to survive. It is a promising development, and hopefully the message of conservation will become part of the human consciousness around the world.

princess point tonight

night settles on Princess Point in Cootes Paradise, August 21/11. Photo by Randy Kay

extirpating turtles?

Searching for Spiny Softshells The eastern spiny softshell turtle   Apalone spinifera spinifera   is a Threatened Species at Risk historically found at Royal Botanical Gardens. For decades the RBG population has been reduced to one or two individuals seen every few years. The last confirmed sighting was in 2003.   This summer RBG made signs asking visitors to submit photographs and information if they have seen this turtle. Only a few days later we got a response! It was quickly sent to the Spiny Softshell Recovery Team, only to find that it was not our native spiny softshell.   The submitted photo was of an exotic softshell that likely made its way here through the pet trade. This turtle, narrowed down to one of two types of softshells native to the Texas area, has low chances of making it through the winter. Releasing exotic pets into the wild can also introduce diseases to naturally occurring populations and competition for food and space. It was a false alarm, but there is st

build on success?

The short article (see below) lists some impressive accomplishments for Great Lakes rehabilitation, including successes in Cootes Paradise. I have chosen a few highlights that we should consider when addressing local issues, like parking lots and roads in former wetlands: "Nearly 60 per cent of original wetlands have been destroyed on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, even more between Toronto and the Niagara River. In some parts of southwestern Ontario, the loss has reached 90 per cent, one of the highest rates in the world." “We have to take care of the little things. If we’re successful in taking care of the little things, little things become big improvements.” "In the past, wetlands were considered breeding grounds for mosquitoes that should be drained or paved. But they are to be treasured. They brim with more life than any other ecosystem — 200 species of birds and 50 species of mammals are dependent on wetlands, which are often sanctuaries for endangered s

Response from McMaster re: Parking Lot M

McMaster University Office of the Provost Vice-President (Academic) Ext. 24301 May 10, 2011 Mr. Randy Kay Restore Cootes P.O. Box 19 1280 Main Street West Hamilton ON L8R 1Y3 Dear Mr. Kay, Thank you for your letter of March 31 , 2011, addressed, inter alia, to University Planning Committee. I am responding as Chair of the University Planning Committee. We share your interest in retaining and enhancing the beauty of Cootes Paradise and our surrounding environment. Your reference from our Campus Master Plan is evidence of our commitment, as is our alternative modes of transportation through increased biking facilities and car sharing. Our Office of Sustainability is actively engaged in improving our environment and engages students and faculty in support of our goals. Their annual report can be found at Unfortunately, the demand for vehicular transportat

how to pick up a turtle...

Take care on Cootes Drive and Olympic Drive, a turtle hotspot!

Litman on Land Use

An important and timely contribution to the literature on the vast waste of land for car-parks, from Todd Litman, Executive Director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute . ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS AND CASE STUDIES: Why and How to Reduce the Amount of Land Paved for Roads and Parking Facilities Todd Litman (2011). Environmental Practice , Volume 13 , Issue 01 , March 2011 pp 38-46

Revision Re-Vision

*Revised Interim Internal Traffic and Parking Report, June 1969 H.G. Acres & Company Limited Toronto Canada "By 1980, a demand for 7,057 parking spaces is forecast for the total university population and visitors. A continuous parking development program, estimated to cost $10,890,000, will be necessary over the years 1968 to 1980 to accommodate this demand. Because the central campus is limited in space, additional parking facilities must be located on the west campus. A bus service connecting the west and central campuses could be established if a demand arises." 7,057 spaces by 1980?: In 2007 there were 4,714 parking spaces on the main campus, with the largest parking zones located west of the main campus in what were formerly Zones 6 and 7, now lots "M" and "N".(Becker, 9), a difference of 2,343 parking spaces! The rationale to expand parking into west campus, which was formerly a part of the Royal Botanical Gardens' "Coldspring

Litter Clean Up, Saturday, June 4

McMaster Litter Clean-Up in Lot M Parking-Ancaster Creek View Litter Clean-Up in a larger map Time Begins at  June 4th 11:00 AM EDT ending on  June 4th 1:00 PM EDT Location Lot M, McMaster Parking (west of Cootes Drive) Organizers opirg McMaster, Restore Cootes Help clean up litter from McMaster's parking lot "M" next to the lovely Ancaster Creek. This large parking area abuts the creek and is in need of some tender loving care. The area on the other side of the creek is home to deer, turtles, beaver, hawks, and coyotes, to name a few residents. We will meet at 11am Saturday, June 4, during World Environment Week, in the parking lots west of Cootes Drive, in Zone "M" Bags and gloves will be provided. The Hamilton Conservation Authority will be supplying beverages and light snacks! Afterward, we can explore the area and uncover the history of how the Royal Botanical Gardens Coldspring Valley Trails became McMaster Parking. For more i

The Becker Recommendations

The 5 recommendations from Jessica Becker's Masters Thesis : these recommendations would aid travel demand management efforts to reduce car dependency at McMaster University, and would therefore assist  rehabilitation of effected natural areas. The five are: Discourage Single-Occupant Car Use Prior to Permit Assignment Actively Provide Transit Information with a Trial Pass Improved and Regular Recognition and Rewards Increased Number of Pre-Paid Parking Options Prohibit Increases to Parking Infrastructure and its Planning For now let's look in detail at the final recommendation (#5): "Finally, it must be noted that the addition of further infrastructure is not recommended. With the completion of the new stadium and its underground parking facilities, the number of parking stalls on the campus will be elevated to that of what they were prior to the construction of the new residences and other facilities. Providing more parking will make it easier for those alrea

excluding cars on ravine road

The Ravine Road trail through the Westdale forest we enjoy during peaceful walks today wasn't an actual trail until 1960, as RBG Conservationist W.J. Lamoureux recorded in The Garden's Bulletin , February, 1961: "From time to time we have been requested to exclude cars from the ravine road. Although this would represent a considerable saving in road maintenance, the experiment was not tried until the spring of 1960. At the moment, we believe that it is a decided improvement to the area. Walking is much more pleasant now without the dust and noise, and the necessity of dodging the many vehicles which used the road, often because the operators had nothing better to do."

Parking Probe

A very useful resource to get an understanding of what is going on with McMaster Parking, and as it relates to the goal of creating a naturalized buffer between McMaster parking and Ancaster Creek, is found an MA Thesis by Jessica S. Becker: Understanding Commuting Decisions: A Case Study of Students and Staff at McMaster University , from 2007. Tidbits like the fact the "outermost lots are rarely full, even during the fall and winter when the [University] policy is to oversell the permits of all lots by 10%" (Becker, 2) are helpful,  and are supported by the experience with the temporary closure of a section of what is now known as Zone M: i.e. the closure did not result in problems for parking elsewhere on campus since it was shut down for construction of a Combined Sewer Overflow tank in 2009. This finding supports Restore Cootes' concern that the University will needlessly repave this area for parking, thereby creating extra parking demand. As research shows &quo

Letter "M"

RESTORE COOTES PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton ON L8R 1Y3 To McMaster University Planning Committee President Patrick Dean Councillor Brian McHattie March 31, 2011 Subject: Zone M Parking Dear Planning Committee, Restore Cootes is encouraged by McMaster University’s work to improve the sustainability of campus, and applaud efforts so far as the university makes the shift toward a smaller environmental footprint. With the hope to build on success, we are writing to convey our thoughts on plans to re-open parking in McMaster Parking Zone M. Our concern is that restoring parking will negatively effect the potential for an improved natural habitat adjacent to Coldspring/Ancaster Creek. As you are aware, the campus Master Plan refers to a desired “30 metre naturalized buffer” between parking lots and the creek [i] , as proposed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA). The HCA is tasked with protecting Hamilton’s natur

endangered requires more

An endangered species. We know where they are (crossing King Road), we know when they are most at risk (at night), and yet a "voluntary closure"of the threat is the best we can do? The distance between people wrapped in their cars and these tiny creatures is too great for true empathy. How many will be run over by people who ignore the signs for the sake of convenience? Will road-kill statistics be kept? Will we be able to pinpoint a date when the last jefferson salamander was crushed beneath a car tire? Burlington closing King Road at night for salamanders BURLINGTON King Road will be closed Friday for three weeks to protect the endangered Jefferson Salamander. The city has put in a voluntary closure, with signage, to try to prevent road kills as the salamanders begin their annual migration to breeding ponds to lay eggs. Salamanders migrate at night in spring when the temperature rises above 4 C. The closure begins Friday and continues until April 22. The city will pos

one more step toward Eco Gateway in Dundas

Veldhuis project moving forward Endangered birds protected as work on property resumes in May CRAIG CAMPBELL, Dundas Star NEWS STAFF Published on Mar 23, 2011 Hamilton Conservation Authority is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources to preserve habitat of endangered birds during demolition of buildings at the former Veldhuis Greenhouse site on King Street East. Steve Miazga, HCA chief administrator, said last week an environmental assessment of the property will resume, probably in May, after remaining buildings on the property are removed over the next month. Three years after the HCA purchased the property, the organization finally took possession of the remaining buildings. Those addresses are now vacant, and the HCA will start the process for obtaining demolition permits and a landscaping contractor. “The landscaping plan will determine actual costs of developing the park area, excluding remediation costs,” Miazga said. But he pointed out if the environment

Memories of Binkley's Pond?

I am looking for people who remember Binkley's Pond, and the RBG Coldspring Trails that have now been replaced by McMaster Parking - if you have experiences to share to help with historical research, please contact Randy at Thanks for your help!

mapping the former marsh

McMaster Parking comes at a high cost to the natural world. The largest parking area ("M") is located where there were nature trails and habitat for turtles and other creatures. Close-up of parking lot M below: Zone M parking at McMaster - the section currently closed as a result of construction of the combined sewer overflow (CSO) tank corresponds roughly to the selection below: It is clearly visible that the parking is very close to Cold Spring (AKA Ancaster) Creek - a 30m naturalized buffer seems like the least we can do to ameliorate the destruction of habitat for parking.

before parking there was hiking

Photos and a map from the Royal Botanical Gardens archive show the Coldstream Valley Trail system which existed prior to McMaster University expansion to the west in the late 1960s - a floodplain paved over for car parking, destroying prime turtle and other wetland species' habitat. Can we restore what we've lost? The time may be right to start!

naturalize it

Section of Parking Lot closed for installation of CSO tank: Why bother to re-open it at all (it hasn't been needed) "Expansion [of parking] in the West Campus would also have to take into consideration the Hamilton Conservation Authority's goal of a minimum 30 metre wide naturalized buffer zone along Ancaster Creek." McMaster University Campus Master Plan March 2002 A Strategy for Circulation and Parking 5-3 McMaster University is still talking to the city about "the restoration" of the parking lot - we need to get back to talking about restoring the natural buffer zone between the creek and the cars. While this major project to install a combined sewer overflow was being undertaken, McMaster was forced to close the corner of the sprawling parking lot, and in the process found that there was enough capacity for parking without it. Nobody seems aware of the line in the Campus Master Plan about the conservation goal of a 30 m buffer. (The beaver don&#


RBG presents: Project Paradise Open House February 24, 2011, 7 to 9 pm   RBG Centre (café annex), 680 Plains Road West, Burlington The RBG wetland restoration staff are presenting information on the progress of the restoration  of Cootes Paradise. How did the marsh restoration progress despite the Fishway being underwater for two days in March 2010. This is a free event sponsored by Environment Canada (Great Lakes Sustainability Fund), and provides an opportunity to visit with our staff. It includes a mixture of presentations and displays in the café annex.

only natural

A flood warning for Dundas features this news: "flooding in low-lying areas along Lower Spencer Creek" - which would only be a problem if humans built roads, houses, and businesses on floodplains. Which they did. Flood advisory issued for Dundas The Hamilton Conservation Authority has issued a warning to Dundas residents of possible flooding in low-lying areas along Lower Spencer Creek Friday. The warm weather over the last two days has broken up the ice over the creek, resulting in an ice jam at the Thorpe Street Bridge, according to the authority. Officials are warning drivers to be careful when travelling in the area bounded by East Street, Dundas Street and King Street East and Cootes Drive, where there is possible roadway overtopping. Olympic Drive may also be affected. Spencer Creek is expected to peak later Friday evening as temperatures drop. The authority is also warning people to keep children and pets away from all creeks at this time. Officials are continuing t

CATCH the Pleasant, nay, fantastic news!

Finally! Pleasantview appeal dropped The landowners pushing for residential development in the last rural area of Dundas have abandoned their  Ontario Municipal Board appeal  of the city’s new rural official plan. Bella Court Developments Limited and three numbered companies had been  seeking permission  for 760 units along York Road. This appears to be the final chapter in a saga dating back to the early 1990s that  last year  saw the provincial government agree to place the Pleasantview lands under the protection of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.   (Source: Citizens at the City Hall )