Skip to main content

paradigm shift

Banksy, "Parking" L.A. USA
Like many others in the city, I find myself riding through Dundas Valley on my bicycle along the Rail Trail, enjoying the changing seasons, stopping to rest at a bench, maybe taking a lunch and eating it on a sunny hilltop.

Yesterday, returning to the city across a newly-paved extension of the trail at its eastern reaches, we see train cars parked on the other side of a fence. The trail here parallels the train yard until the path veers to the right and joins the city street network.

Those trains, or trains like them, once ran on tracks where we now walk and ride bicycles. There is a long history of trains bringing people between cities and towns, and farmer's produce to market here. The Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway (TH&B, also sometimes referred to as "To Hell and Back") was incorporated in 1884, but by 1998 the track between Hamilton and Brantford had been removed and the rail bed transformed into a crushed gravel multi-use path for non-motorized users.

Things change. Predicting the future is an imprecise science. In 1966 planners projected Dundas, Ontario's population at 43,500 by 1990. In the 2006 Census, the population was stable at 24,702. At McMaster University around the same time (1969) planners projected parking needs at 7,057 spaces by 1980: In 2007 there were 4,714 parking spaces on the main campus, with actual daily demand at much less than that (October peak demand was only for 2,803 spaces).

So when we talk about transforming a place from its current or historical use, re-visioning its purpose, we take risks. But the benefits accrue from careful planning, and trends that open doors to new possibilities. Just as rail service declined along this corridor as an interest in trails was growing, parking demand shrinks as a generational demographic shifts away from single-occupancy car use. It is at this intersection we realize an historic moment is upon us. Less parking, especially in a former wetland currently known as McMaster's Lot M parking, means restoration is well within our reach.

The future is not storing the maximum number of cars but creating a living laboratory where students and faculty conduct research and teach how to restore wetlands.

This is the future, and it is here before us, waiting for the commitment to make it real.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Taking a different direction to protect turtles in Cootes

Here's an easy thing you can do that will benefit at local risk-turtles immediately. It's as simple as taking a different route to bypass Cootes and Olympic Drive. This small choice will mean turtles and other wildlife in Cootes Paradise will have a better chance of surviving from being crushed under your vehicle tires.

Take the pledge: http://bit.ly/ProtectTurtlesCootes
Often you might not even be aware you've hit a young turtle, or a snake, for example, yet in the case of turtles, each death means this at-risk group is one death closer to extirpation. Turtles take a long time to reach maturity, and most hatchlings never make it to adulthood so you can see the dilemma.

Please take a minute to pledge your commitment to use an alternate route, and help Restore Cootes and other groups do their part to protect our reptile friends. A previous survey showed that 70% of respondents would do this for the turtles. Hopefully you will join them!

Thanks in advance for your support!


Loa…

Coldspring Valley History Hike: Water Innovation Week

We're heading back out to share the history of this former floodplain/nature sanctuary, and take a look at the rehabilitated future of this contested site in McMaster's west campus. Can we really depave Paradise? It's happening!

Register on Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/waterweekwalk2017 (by donation)




Another look at McMaster Parking Lot M after the depaving (video)

I went back to the same spot to grab a time-lapse of Lot M, post asphalt removal to create the 30m minimum required buffer between the parking lot and Ancaster Creek, a cold water creek that was moved to allow more parking in the 1960s.

There's hope for the future of this space, which formerly was a Royal Botanical Gardens nature sanctuary known as Coldspring Valley. We will have some updates to announce soon!

With your help, we can keep moving forward to see more of this area returned to nature. Please sign-up to keep informed about developments and campaigns from Restore Cootes!