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Showing posts from March, 2012

Mac must protect creek near parking lot

Mac must protect creek near parking lot McMaster paved paradise; Restore Cootes aims to restore wetland lost to campus parking lot (March 24, 2012) Even though I do not have a permanent address in Hamilton, I have high interest in McMaster University and environmental issues such as this one.

The article brings to light some issues surrounding environmental conservation and its abuse in terms of urban development. McMaster's lack of regulations involving the buffer between lot M and Ancaster Creek shows a need for stricter rules. The statistics show a decline in need for parking, which means fewer on-campus drivers.

While permeable paving is a step in the right direction, conservation of the creek and surrounding area is a must. Ground water, run-off and acquirer management concerns become relevant as there is a greater demand for water, especially in cities such as Hamilton. Restricting movement of groundwater, even slightly, would negate any positive aspects of eco-freindly pavi…

Lot Letter to Editor

A nice supportive letter that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator March 29/12, following the article about Lot M. Very nice to see people engaging their imaginations to see a better future! Thanks Narina!


Unpave a parking lot, put in a paradise
McMaster paved paradise; Restore Cootes aims to restore wetland lost to campus parking lot (March 24) With student parking occupancy at McMaster University well below capacity, vacant parking lots such as Lot M are starting to be recognized as unused spaces serving little purpose.  Here is where an amazing opportunity to utilize the space arises. Restoration of Lot M back to the natural habitat it currently rests on has immense potential for the ecosystem’s well-being, as well as the community surrounding it, both in its aesthetic and research value. Not only does the parking lot back up against Coldspring Creek, but it replaces a large portion of riparian and forest habitat with pavement. This fragments the landscape and limits the ability of ani…

Arts Connection

Nature feeds artists, nurtures imagination, roots us to our creativity. So it's nice to find a photo of local jazz singer and 2 time Juno Award nominee Diana Panton using Cootes Paradise as the setting for a publicity shot.  Good luck to Diana at the 2012 Juno Awards!

Area of Concern

The Hamilton Conservation Authority mapping for Lower Ancaster Creek Catchment area shows the various stressors on habitat and water quality, with the parking lot in Zone M indicated with the concern "Poor stormwater management resulting in ditch creek"


(from ANCASTER CREEK SUBWATERSHED, STEWARDSHIP ACTION PLAN, DRAFT December 31, 2007)

Riparian Roamings

Why we want McMaster to act on their campus plan MINIMUM 30metre buffer between parking lots and Ancaster Creek (AKA Coldspring Creek):
"Riparian buffers function as water filters. When it rains, buffers trap pollutants and eroded soil before they get into the creek. While keeping the creek water clean, buffers provide food, shelter and shade for fish, frogs, birds and small animals. They also stabilize creek banks, which helps prevent soil erosion.  Environment Canada's Habitat Guidelines recommend a 30-metre buffer along cold water creeks and a 15 - metre buffer along warm water creeks for these ecological features to perform their function. There are many creeks in our watersheds that do not meet these standards.  The 1999 map of [Hamilton Conservation Authority] HCA riparian buffer data shows that the area's urban creeks have insufficient riparian buffers when compared to these environmental standards. The upper subwatersheds of Spencer Creek and Red Hill Creek show a…

Back to Becker

We've shared data and recommendations here previously from research conducted by Jessica S. Becker in her paper "Understanding Commuting Decisions: a case study of student and staff at McMaster University" 2007.

Time for some more:
Of parking permit holders at McMaster, 27% live within 4 kilometres of campus 37% live within 5km Over 1/3 of staff are parking permit holders living within 5k of campus. Becker suggests that "cost or distance has no bearing on whether or not a staff member will choose to drive, so long as s/he has access to a vehicle and a parking permit."
Obviously room for improvement here, and Becker's warning against "focusing only on the needs of those that drive" needs more attention. If we link decreasing demand for parking with a concern for ecology, we create more opportunity for rehabilitation of west campus.

Spectator Takes a Hike with Us

They paved paradise
(The Hamilton Spectator, March 24, 2012)

Randy Kay is standing on a paved parking lot. But he sees a natural sanctuary.

His mind is in the late 1950s, when the area was the Coldspring Valley and the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) was just opening up trails at the site, which backs onto Ancaster Creek.

Then, in 1963, McMaster University bought the property from the RBG with plans to create thousands of parking spots, eventually converting the wetlands into Parking Lot M.

But today, vehicles on campus don’t meet the total capacity of its 4,000-or-so spaces even during peak hours, said Kay, the founder of the Restore Cootes campaign.

“(Lot M) stands as an obstruction to the natural function of the ecosystem,” he said. “If you look at the map, Dundas Valley comes down and hits this grey zone and goes into Cootes, which is the gem of Hamilton — the heart … of our ecological existence here.”

On Thursday, Kay led a dozen students and faculty on an hour-long hike to look ov…

Cleaning Cootes, and what is that orange oozy stuff...?

The McMaster Outdoors Club sponsored a Cootes Paradise Clean-Up today. Part of the litter picking took place in Parking Lot "M" where we collected several bags of trash in two hours (with more remaining)








Restore Cootes on Facebook

Yes, we've created a page on the social networking site and called it Cars or Cootes? Parking or Paradise? to focus on the situation at McMaster University parking in the Ancaster Creek floodplain. We hope you "like" us and join the community growing there. Together we can try and win back some natural habitat and improve our local environment!

This Week In Coldspring Valley

nobody listened in '69

"There is an increasing acceptance by the traffic engineering and urban planning professions to the concept that carparking should not become and end in itself, but be recognized as only one phase of overall planning and transportation policies. It is further recognized that carparking policies and pricing can have a major influence upon the successful implementation of transport programs. Simply put, cheap parking encourages heavy usage of the private auto, and concurrently requires larger parking facilities and costly roadway improvement works.

We believe that the University should limit its responsibility in such access/egress matters to:

providing only a sufficient quantum of carparking to serve the needs of those users willing to pay the full economic charges for samesoliciting and encouraging public transport authorities to improve service schedules and routes. 
From our experience and from the literature of our profession, it is apparent that hospitals, colleges and univer…

McMaster C1939

Take a look at this video: McMaster C1939. Now picture the fact that Cootes Drive, then known as Highway 8D (Dundas Diversion) was already built (opened in 1937) as a divided highway. A truly modern highway that even today never runs at capacity.
The highway was built and paid for by the Provincial Department of Highways under Hamilton's own Thomas B. McQuesten, Minister of Highways at the time.
Dundas town council was adamant they did not expect to pay for the roadway's connecting links to Dundas, just as Hamilton refused to pay for the intersection with highway 8 (Main Street).
 Why was it built here, and at this time? Well, it was likely a small demonstration of the future, a tactic employed by McQuesten to give people a taste of, and time to get used to, what was to come: in this case, the Queen Elizabeth Highway (QEW) being constructed as a limited access divided highway.
 Filling in the Dundas marsh with soil taken from the hillside west and north of the McMaster campus…

pondSTOParking Tour

Poster by Abir Abdulla

Letter M

Friday, March 9, 2012
Dear McMaster University Planning Committee,
I am writing to follow up on the issue of paving in McMaster parking lot “M.”
I had written to you previously in March 2011 with concerns relating to the section of Lot M, closed for the past three years due to construction of a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) tank by the City of Hamilton. As well, I raised the issue of the entire parking lot’s proximity to Ancaster Creek. I had asked that the campus master plan’s “minimum” 30 metre naturalized buffer zone between the creek and the parking be administered to this area.
The May 10, 2011 response from the committee through the Office of the Provost Vice-President (Academic) unfortunately declared, “the demand for vehicular transportation continues and the need for parking remains. We do, therefore, need to restore the parking Lot M” – on this point I must vigorously disagree. As the recent “McMaster University Campus Capacity Study” (April 2011) indicates, at the peak parking…

30 Metres in Lot M

McMaster University Campus Master Plan 2002: "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."
Volunteers from Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster took measurements to see how far the 30 metre buffer zone between Zone M Parking at McMaster would extend into the existing parking area.
With the campus lots overbuilt for the current parking demand, there is ample room to rehabilitate a 30 metre buffer zone. If the university decides to save money on re-paving lots they no longer need capital funds could be applied to a staged rehabilit…

Backyard Biosphere

Saving Salamanders

A great news story out of Burlington. Councillor Craven is to be commended for his support: “A three-week closure is a small price to pay to preserve a species.”  - truly! (from the Hamilton Spectator) - Roads disrupt habitat and certain species are very vulnerable to road kill - Cootes Drive in Hamilton/Dundas is a prime example where road kill of sensitive populations is ongoing - a highway through a marsh is not a good idea!

Burlington closes King Road for salamander season BURLINGTON The Jefferson salamanders have returned to King Road, forcing the closure of a section of the Burlington road until March 29.  The road is closed at the point where King Road climbs over the Niagara Escarpment. It’s an annual rite to allow the endangered Jefferson salamander safe passage during its annual migration to lay eggs.  Burlington is home to one of the few pockets of Jefferson salamanders in the province.
“We tried voluntary overnight closures as a temporary solution,” saysWard 1 Councillor R…

McMaster Parking NUMBERS GAME

30 - the minimum metres of naturalized buffer between parking and Ancaster creek mentioned as a target in the campus master plan

20 - estimated average distance in metres currently short of the 30m minimum buffer goal

2,803 - number of campus car parking spaces used at peak of demand

4,276 - total number of campus parking spaces

7,057 - the number of spaces McMaster consultants projected in 1969 would be required by 1980

1,473 - number of current parking spaces not needed even during peak demand

1,349 - number of spaces in parking lot M

3 - number of years the section of Lot M has been closed due to construction

500,000 - the estimated number of dollars required to repave the section of Lot M with permeable paving
45 - number of years since McMaster paved over the land that had belonged to the Royal Botanical Gardens and was formerly known as Coldspring Valley