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A Letter and the Vision

Below, a letter to the editor in the Hamilton Spectator regarding the future of Maplewood in Dundas Valley from non other than the first chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority (who just happens to remember buying that piece of land and why they bought it.)

If that doesn't make things clear, then a Hamilton Spectator report from April on the 50 Year Vision for Dundas Valley - no mentions of leasing public lands to private interests, and a lot about protecting natural habitat, reflected in the title "Preservation Sought for Dundas Valley".

I sat on the committee for the 50 Year Vision, and can attest to the direction we felt the HCA should go, toward protecting nature, not playing games with it.


HCA must not lose Dundas Valley land

School operator says project will enhance Dundas Valley (Nov. 6)
A proposal to lease Maplewood to a Montessori school has been put forward to the conservation authority. At first glance that might seem a reasonable way to solve the dilemma of Maplewood. It is, however, a really bad idea.
I have a long association with this property. Its purchase was crafted in my living room in Ancaster in the '60s during a meeting with officials of the Niagara Anglican Diocese. The price agreed upon was a fraction of its market value because the Diocese wanted the property to be and remain open space in perpetuity. In fact, when the authority was buying land, assurances were always given that it would never be disposed of.
To now alienate this property, whether by sale or lease, is to not keep faith with the vendors of this land. This property was not acquired because of the building now known as Maplewood. It was acquired for its value as part of a magnificent valley to be protected forever. It is deeply embedded in the valley as an integral part of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, a world heritage site.
Looking back, it is now clear that the building should have been removed right after its acquisition. The question however, is what to do now. I agree entirely with the staff recommendations that the buildings be removed and the area restored to its natural state. Leasing the property to private interests, apart from being a violation of the authority's mandate, may well open the door to other leases or sales down the road.
The conservation authority is not a business. It has a very different mandate. The authority must not now or ever dispose of its vital conservation lands, no matter the short term temptations.

Hon. Thomas A Beckett QC, Dundas
First chair, Hamilton Conservation Authority

Preservation sought for Dundas Valley

April 4, 2013 - Dan Nolan, Hamilton Spectator
ANCASTER Preservation was the underlying theme from residents as the Hamilton Conservation Authority sought public input for its 50-year vision and strategy for the Dundas Valley.
About 40 residents attended a meeting Thursday night hosted by project co-ordinator Anuja Ramgoolan at Ancaster library and they told her they would like to see the HCA work on preserving the valley and its environment.
This ranged from rerouting the Paris-Ancaster cycling race out of the valley to prevent harm to the valley’s ecosystems, providing incentives to farmers to stave off developers, clamping down on speedsters on York Road to protect wildlife corridors, placing more signs to warn off illegal hunters and ensuring creeks have enough water for wildlife.
“Residents who have lived in the valley for decades feel we are protectors of the land and it’s getting harder every year,” said Jackie Ogilvie of the hamlet of Mineral Springs. She worries about the cyclists going through unopened Martin Road and its impact on the Jefferson salamander.
“It’s conservation, not recreation,” said Janet Faloney, who lives on Lower Lions Club Road. “All the years that we have lived there we’re the ones who cleaned the trails and made the bridges. We just don’t want people who are there trying to wreck it.”
The HCA is seeking to protect the important natural lands, plants, animals, the agricultural lifestyle and rural lifestyle through its 50-year strategy. It has selected 10 key strategic directions (what it also calls action areas) for implementation within the strategy’s first implementation cycle, 2013-2018. Project plans will now be created from the actions areas.
The top 10 are: Preserve and enhance connectivity of ecosystems in the valley and explore the co-benefits with the Cootes-Escarpment Park plan.
   Preserve the escarpment and rural countryside, including selected vistas.
   Protect rare and endangered species at risk.
   Combat the impact of invasive and nuisance species.
   Maintain and protect local architectural and natural heritage.
   Promote green business practices.
   Develop farmer-generated mechanisms to develop public support for agricultural and increase awareness of local agriculture.
   Support special character roads (such as Sulphur Springs Road).
   Develop sustainable tourism business plans.
   Protect and enhance the health of streams, watercourses and waterfalls.
Caroline Thomson, who lives in Pleasant View, said watershed planning is crucial in her area. She said a stream near her home that used to provide drinking water for wildlife has dried up in the past five years. She puts a pail of water out each night and the animals come, including raccoons, chipmunks, deer and even a weasel.


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