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Engineers Without Borders explore McMaster parking lot naturalization

Having visitors from out of province, never mind bright young engaged members of the national Engineers Without Borders (EWB) group, was a real treat and a great way to show-off the changes at McMaster's parking lot "M".

No Parking! The 30m buffer displaced car parking to protect Ancaster Creek
The EWB crew arrived by city bus at McMaster and were met by Reyna Matties (McMaster biology) and Randy Kay (Restore Cootes/OPIRG McMaster). Hamilton is playing host this weekend to an annual national EWB conference, and the tour of Lot M was one of the field trip options. Reyna and I were very happy with the turnout!

Reyna (centre) explains the biology of the riparian zone at Ancaster Creek
The group had about an hour, so we did a truncated version of our usual tour. It was cold but we ended up spending the entire time outside, resulting in a few cold toes by the end. We walked the length of "Maria's Walk", the last mostly-intact trail from the Royal Botanical Gardens' 1958-1963 "Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary" - which by 1970 had been converted into a massive McMaster asphalt parking lot. 

We stopped to check out Ancaster Creek and the recently created 30 metre naturalized buffer zone between the creek and the remaining parking, and we fielded lots of intelligent questions from the EWB members who shared our concern for the well-being of natural lands.

We ended up having time to stop by the pioneer cemetery to end the tour with a bit of 19th Century history exploring the relationship to the land that existed before white settlers arrived in the region, who of course ended up taking land from and eventually displacing the original inhabitants of the region. 



We hope the tour was worthwhile to the EWB group; we certainly appreciated their interest and bravery facing the cold weather (some in thin souled shoes!). 

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I'm stepping in to fill-in for the injured Wayne Terryberry on this interpretive hike - on the filled-in floodplain of lower Ancaster Creek, formerly Coldspring Valley Nature sanctuary,  currently McMaster Parking Lot M - also the site of a rehabilitation project that has peeled back the asphalt to create a 30 metre riparian zone to separate the cold-water creek from the parking.

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