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

Urquhart Butterfly Garden speaker series

A lovely butterfly garden is the perfect setting for this annual speaker series.
August 4, 2018, Guest speaker: Doreen Nicoll You cannot have Monarch Butterflies without milkweed.  Doreen Nicoll has recently become a heroine for monarch butterflies, by insisting on her rights to grow milkweed in her naturalized garden in Burlington.

Doreen  Nicoll has long understood that garden with nature and not against her is the best thing for our planet. She also knows that native plants are great at attracting butterflies and bees of all species.

Doreen will be the first presenter in the Summer Series at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden and her topic will be Monarchs and Their Milkweed and naturalized gardening. She has wealth of information and is fun as well!

The session will begin at 11 am Saturday on August 4 and last approximately one hour.  Please bring a chair.

If it rains the session will be cancelled.


For more information about the Urquhart Butterfly Garden please visit urquhartbutterfly.c…

History Hike in West Campus Tuesday, September 11 at 2pm

We're going on a hike to introduce McMaster students (and any other interested participants) to this former RBG Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary and coldwater creek floodplain  - currently a parking lot - to examine the past, present and future of this place that is undergoing an important ecological transformation.
Tour Leaders Dan Coleman (English Professor and author of Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place)Randy Kay (Restore Cootes)Judy Major-Girardin (School of the Arts)

Salamander Safety!

http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/4430337-city-closing-king-road-for-salamanders-starting-march-27/

King Road will close from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road from March 27-April 17 to allow the endangered Jefferson salamander safe passage during its annual migration to lay eggs.

Beginning in 2012, the City of Burlington has closed the same section of road completely for a three-week period.

“The closure is a significant conservation measure because the annual migration puts salamanders at risk,” said Bruce Zvaniga, the city’s director of transportation services, in a press release.

“There is good evidence that the effort has allowed the Jefferson salamanders to travel safely across King Road, helping preserve a unique part of Burlington’s biodiversity.”

The Jefferson salamander is a protected species and is nationally and provincially endangered.

In Canada, the Jefferson salamander is found in Southern Ontario in select areas of deciduous forest, mostly along t…