Special Report: Dundas EcoPark

Documentary Video Explains Dundas EcoPark

The goal is a park that includes protected natural habitats for the rich diversity of species living around Cootes, hiking trails, boardwalk and visitor centre, and historic preservation of a major part of Hamilton's industrial heritage.

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 07, 2013

A new 42 minute documentary, produced by Wade Genders and Glen Provoist and directed by Dr. Brian Baetz in McMaster University's faculty of engineering, explains the concept of the Dundas EcoPark and outlines the opportunities and challenges.

The Dundas EcoPark proposal is to secure privately-owned land to create a 2,000 hectare (4,950 acre) contiguous protected conservation area surrounding Cootes Paradise. Most of the land is already publicly owned, but fundraising is underway to purchase the remaining land.

Dundas EcoPark, bordered in black. Green areas are already publicly owned. Pink areas are privately owned. (Image Credit: Dundas EcoPark)
Dundas EcoPark, bordered in black. Green areas are already publicly owned. Pink areas are privately owned. (Image Credit: Dundas EcoPark)

The campaign also seek to re-naturalize land along the north shore of the Desjardins Canal, an area that includes the Ben Veldhuis Greenhouse property and nearby city-owned marshlands. Valdhuis put Dundas on the map as a a worldwide supplier of cacti and the impetus for the Dundas Cactus Festival.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority recently purchased 21 hectares (52 acres) of land along York Road and is looking to secure a little less than $300,000 in additional funding to pay for the purchase by the end of 2013.

The goal is a park that includes protected natural habitats for the rich diversity of species living around Cootes, hiking trails, boardwalk and visitor centre, and historic preservation of a major part of Hamilton's industrial heritage.

The documenetary video is narrated by environmental advocate Julia Kollek and features thoughtful interviews with a number of advocates for the EcoPark, including: Jen Baker, Head-of-the-Lake Land Trust Program Coordinator of the Hamilton Naturalists' Club; Warren Beacham of Hamilton Naturalists' Club; Tom Beckett, founding chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority; John Bryden, historian and former area MP; Mark Chamberlain, president of Trivaris; Terry Cooke, CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation; Bob Crockford, chair of Valley City Manufacturing; Dr. Patrick Deane, president of McMaster University; Dr David Galbraith, President of Royal Botanical Gardens; Dundas artist Cathy Gibbon; Dr. Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton; Jeff Mahoney of the Hamilton Spectator; Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie; Stan Nowak, president of the Dundas Valley Historical Society; Theresa Picone of Picone's in Dundas; Ward 13 (Dundas) councillor Russ Powers; Dr. Jim Quinn from McMaster University's department of biology; Hamilton writer John Terpstra; Dr. Conrad Sichler, MD of Sweet Medicine Integrative Health Centre in Burlington; Dr. David Smith from University of Toronto Mississauga's department of anthropology; Ben Vanderbrug, former general manager of the Hamilton Conservation Authority; and architect Fred Vermeulen.

As Vandberbrug summarized the campaign:

You have to be able to look beyond your own life years, I guess, and your own lifespan, and say: this is so important for the city and for our children and grandchildren, and if we don't act now, and if I just sit back and let it happen or not happen, then I'm sort of guilt of not making this city what it can be.

You can donate to the campaign to help finance the land acquisition and restoration work.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Rosalind M (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2013 at 15:38:38

The Dundas Ecopark is a component of the larger Cootes to Escarpment Ecopark System which encompasses over 1500 hectares of environmentally significant lands in Hamilton and Burlington. The ten partner agencies involved in the creation of the Ecopark System are signing a memorandum of understanding this month. We are holding a public kick-off celebration of the launch of the Ecopark System on Saturday June 22 at the RBG Centre.

Please see the Cootes to Escarpment web page for more details: cootestoescarpmentpark.ca

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