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Showing posts from August, 2012

Floodplain Fail

Map supplied by the Hamilton Conservation Area shows the entire Lot M parking lot is built on the floodplain of Ancaster Creek (light blue/turquoise colour). Functioning floodplains support a rich diversity of species and are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. McMaster's floodplain was filled in to raise the height of land, then paved for parking in 1969.

Floodplains are important enough to us at Restore Cootes that we are actively encouraging McMaster University to develop a plan to reduce parking demand in the long term, while making better use of the 1,000 available spaces outside of Lot M during peak demand.

The ultimate and achievable goal is to restore the area to its former function as a floodplain.

Unpaving Paradise hits the news stands!

Thursday, August, 23, 2012 - 10:10:00 AM
Unpaving Paradise By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News A group of McMaster University faculty want to unpave paradise and remove a parking lot.

Biology professor Jim Quinn is one of those calling for a redevelopment of a west campus parking area to go beyond creating a 30-metre buffer along Ancaster Creek and eliminate twice as many parking spaces and reclaim the natural wetland that once existed there.

“Our vision is to convert Lot M parking spots into the MACmarsh research facility by making more efficient use of existing campus parking; at peak demand there are still over 1,000 unused parking spaces,” a one page memo presented to McMaster University administration states.

In an interview, Quinn said reclaiming the natural wetland west of Cootes Drive would be better for Ancaster Creek, and create a valuable research area for professors and students in several programs.

“I think it’s really important and that’s why I’m supporting it,” Quinn said. …

Does McMaster have a Transportation Plan?

"Created in 2002, the ACT Office (All-modes Commuting & Transportation) existed to inspire McMaster faculty, staff and students to bike, hike, take transit and share the ride to campus.
In November 2008, the ACT Office transformed into the Office of Sustainability where initiatives relating to sustainable transportation will continue to thrive".
http://www.mcmaster.ca/sustainability/alternative_transportation.html  "The university also hired an external consulting firm....the results of which strongly suggested the development of a ...TDM [Transportation Demand Management] scheme. It is unclear whether or not such a scheme was ever created." "Improvements in access to alternative transit and facilities have not been met with the anticipated participation increase due to lack of management policy that discourages driving and rewards modal change"  Jessica S. Becker, "Understanding commuting decisions: a case study of students and staff at McMaster…

Willing to Pay the Full Charges for Parking?

"There is an increasing acceptance by the traffic engineering and urban planning professions of the concept that carparking should not become an 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 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 charges for same;soliciting and encouraging public transport authorities to improve service schedules and routes" R.F. Smith, Manager of Engineering, McMaster Health Science Centre, 4th March 1969 [Letter: Parking Design and Develop…

Half Capacity? No Problem!

Usually, standing on the median between the northbound/southbound lanes of Cootes Drive would be an unnerving experience, due to the high speed traffic clocking in at 80km/hour and more.

But during construction, the closure of the southbound lane of Cootes Drive (see video) has calmed traffic speeds and made the road quieter and safer.

With Spencer Creek and ponds to the left of the road, and Cootes Paradise Nature Sanctuary wetlands to the right, the inhabitants of the natural environment fare poorly when forced to interact with traffic. The huge distance between the shoulders of the road are a major barrier for amphibian and other wetland species, including species at risk like Cootes Paradise's turtle population.

When the road was built in 1936-37, it was built as an example of the new modern highway design: divided lanes with a grassy median, easy curves and low grades. These innovations were achieved in this instance by removing hills and then using the soil to fill in the m…

Upstream of Lot M

Ancaster Creek seen from the Binkley Bridge on the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail, as it passes through Ancaster/Dundas. A built-up area surrounds this valley with high rises on Main Street West visible in the background, and Dundas neighbourhoods and University Plaza/Osler Drive nearby. Now imagine this same river valley being filled-in to create a huge parking lot for 2,000 cars. It would look something like this:

McMaster filled in a wetland for parking in 1969. This environmentally degraded legacy remains with us, but the vision of a restored wetland is very much alive.
View one valley, two views in a larger map

Wise and Practical

“Creating a larger riparian buffer between Ancaster Creek in this area will provide great benefits to the health of Ancaster Creek, its fisheries and its natural ecosystems as well as the overall health of Cootes Paradise and Hamilton Harbour. It would also be an important step toward bringing the University into the process of providing wise and practical solutions to better natural resource management in Hamilton.” (April 2012)
Anyone want to guess who we're quoting?