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best practices

The eastern end of Dundas could really use a vision, and this project has it in spades.
The potential for the canal property to be the catalyst for beneficial and transformative changes to this area of town that has been the subject of so much recent controversy.
The philosophy that guides the plan is absolutely what we need more of: restoration of natural habitats.
The only bit of information I would add to the article is the danger the intersection of King and Olympic presents. I've seen some awfully close calls when cars make a left turn onto Olympic here. Closing King would not be a big deal, really. C'mon Hamilton, get over your cars first ideals.


Plans for former greenhouse property move ahead


Fundraising and approval for project are starting now


Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News Staff,  Published on Jul 01, 2010


A phase three environmental assessment to determine if soil contamination is leaching into the Desjardins Canal will take place after Hamilton Conservation Authority takes possession of existing buildings on the former Veldhuis Greenhouse property next February.

Conservation Authority administrator Steve Miazga told more than 20 people who attended a public information session about plans for the site north of the canal Wednesday. He said if conservation authority doesn’t have to deal with leaching, there are various options to handle existing contamination, including simply placing soil fill on top of the property.

In the meantime, Miazga said a walkabout will be held at the Veldhuis property at 6:30 p. m. on Wednesday, July 14. Public comments on the plan will be accepted until July 23, with a report and recommendations going to the Aug. 12 conservation area’s advisory board meeting. If approved there, the plan goes to the conservation authority board for approval. The next effort revolves around fundraising to make the detailed project a reality.

“This plan, quite frankly, is not budgeted for in any agency’s budget,” Miazga said.

The authority does not know how much money will be needed for the project. Cost estimates aren’t expected until after the phase three environmental assessment next year.

“It’s a challenging project, but it’s one that must be done,” Miazga said.

He agreed with Tys Theysmeyer, head of conservation at project partner Royal Botanical Gardens, that the plan is needed to make the Veldhuis site a public buffer between an urban area and a natural preservation area.

Joe Berridge, of the planning firm Urban Strategies, was hired by the conservation authority to create short-and long-term site plans for the Veldhuis property.

Berridge and his firm were also responsible for the Urban Eco Park report commissioned by local residents Ben Vanderbrug, Joanna Chapman and Brian Baetz as an option to a proposed storage facility at 201 King St. E., across from Veldhuis.

Berridge told those gathered at last week’s meeting the former greenhouse property is a major public junction of several important natural lands. It will provide a central connection to various walking paths and bike routes – including several new links included in the proposed site plan.

Berridge said part of the plan’s goal is to formalize paths so people don’t “ramble” through natural areas – destroying sections that should be preserved.

“Keep it simple,” he said of the site plan’s goal. “It’s a re-naturalization. (But) we’re going to give Mother Nature a bit of hand.”

One element of the short-and long-term plans includes placing islands in the Desjardins Canal made of plants that will soak up nutrients that create algae in the water. Berridge said some will be made on an experimental basis, and more could be added.

The short-term plan includes keeping the easterly stretch of King Street East open to traffic, but the long-term plan suggests closing it.

“In the long run, we think it’s a good idea to explore closing King Street,” Berridge said. “There are some important turtle nesting areas. There are pros and cons. It’s an idea we should keep in mind in the long term if it makes sense.”

He suggested keeping King Street East open would help provide informal surveillance of the natural public space and also permit on-street parking. Closing the road would also increase the cost of the project.

City of Hamilton staff has provided comments opposing the closure of the small stretch of King Street East.

But Berridge also suggested that piece of road is redundant and not necessary, and it’s a problem for turtles travelling across to nesting areas. He said closure of the road could also allow a future combination with the property at 201 King St. E.

When it was suggested a pathway in the plan might be located too close to the canal, potentially spooking rare waterfowl, Berridge suggested closer is better.

“Where the trail is 20 feet from the water’s edge, people beat a path along the edge,” he said. “If you don’t have one, you’ll have it anyway.”

Berridge said much of the planning requires managing human behaviour within a natural area, and giving people places they can go.

Miazga said there is ongoing discussion around timelines for the short and long term — and whether or not to keep two separate site plans.

“Should we even have short and long term, or should we make the decision to pursue the ultimate,” Miazga said.

The Dundas Eco-Gateway plan is available at the Hamilton Conservation Authority website at: www.conservationhamilton.ca



http://www.dundasstarnews.com/news/article/214222

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