|Engineering MA student exploring area|
Push is on to protect McMaster Forest
By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
There is apparently no existing plan to develop on a 115-acre woodland owned by McMaster University bordering Dundas, Ancaster and west Hamilton – but a group advising the university president wants to make sure it stays that way.
Wayne Terryberry, chair of the president’s advisory committee on Cootes Paradise, said the property also known as “McMaster Forest” on the east side of Louise Drive off Lower Lions Club Road in Ancaster connects to the Ancaster Creek watershed.
“It’s a pretty ecologically diverse area,” Terryberry said. “We’re hoping to make sure that area is conserved.”
The committee recently enjoyed a success when McMaster University announced plans to move ahead with a project to create the 30-metre buffer recommended by the Hamilton Conservation Authority between Ancaster Creek and an existing parking lot on the west campus.
While that change will remove some parking spaces from the west campus, there is some support for removing more pavement and re-naturalizing the former wetland.
But Terryberry said trying to ensure preservation of the existing open space and forest a little further west is the advisory committee’s new main focus.
“We have to create a case for it,” he said. “(We have to) show that it’s in the university’s best interests to conserve it rather than other potential uses.”
Helen Ayre, acting university secretary at McMaster, said she doesn’t know of any plans for the land.
“So far as I am aware, the land has been left essentially untouched since it was purchased,” Ayre said.
The majority of the site is apparently zoned for agriculture, and also regulated by the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Neither the City of Hamilton planning department, nor the NEC is aware of any development proposal or discussions.
Ken Whitbread, manager of the NEC, said the property is in the Niagara Escarpment Plan’s most restrictive land use designations.
“Urban development would be prohibited, as is the severing of lands,” Whitbread said. “Highest and best use could be one house on the property or forestry, conservation, park and open space uses. Passive recreational uses and sustainable forestry could also be permitted.”
Land Registry documents indicate McMaster University purchased the property in two sections – the first in the summer of 1964 from Calder Developments Limited for one dollar. The rest of the site was purchased in the summer of 1969 from the County of Wentworth.