Feature

A Promising Start To Plans For Churchill Park

Churchill Park is a rare and special place where city meets nature. A collaborative Master Plan process is helping it grow as an inclusive, valued, engaged and engaging public space, informed by its unique social and natural history.

By Mary Louise Pigott
Published May 09, 2011

Hamilton's blessed location between the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and the Carolinian Nature Reserves of the Royal Botanical Gardens makes us a city/nature nexus that has shaped our history and self-image in largely imperceptible ways, at least until now. Growing awareness of the effects of urban sprawl and loss of greenspace is particularly urgent in Hamilton, as we are stewards of adjacent greenspaces that also happen to be fragile national treasures.

Our city is uniquely positioned, and should be leading the way in the crucial conversations about nature and culture that need to take place if we are to have a sustainable future.

Churchill Park in Westdale is shaping up to be a testing ground for how well our public spaces can address these issues. At the moment, Churchill Park is a bit of a no man's land sandwiched between one of the last old growth Carolinian forests in the country and a dense, walkable neighbourhood with a strong urban character. Once Oak Savannah, it recently lost one of its last remnant oaks, and is now a largely barren space dominated by playing fields.

The theme of urban development bumping up against nature is a common one in our country, but this usually takes place on the sprawling edges of urban boundaries. It is rare indeed to encounter old growth forests mere meters away from mature, urban neighbourhoods. In fact, the only other examples I can think of in this country are Vancouver's Stanley Park and Toronto's High Park.

Could we have our own little Stanley Park right here in Hamilton?

I would argue that we have something even more precious than Stanley Park. Stanley Park and High Park are outstanding urban parks that preserve pockets of nature that are vital to the quality of life of their cities and surrounding neighbourhoods. We have a great deal to learn from them about how well-designed public spaces can enhance and inform the human/nature connection. But Stanley Park and High Park are islands, cut off by their cities from vital, connecting natural corridors.

In her 2010 paper "Killing Me Softly": A Critical Rethinking of Municipal Natural Area Management, Mary-Ellen Tyler of the University of Calgary argues that the establishment of protected natural areas in cities has often had the unintended effect of leading to increased ecological degradation.

Some of the reasons for this are the 'island' effect, and the fact that municipal management of natural areas often emphasizes recreational uses at the expense of ecological considerations. The Carolinian forest that borders Churchill Park is not only one of the most biodiverse pockets in the country, it is unique among urban parks in that it is part of the Cootes Paradise to Escarpment link - the last natural link between Lake Ontario and the Escarpment. As well, it is managed by the RBG, an institution dedicated to ecological preservation and restoration.

Nonetheless, the nature reserve on the south shore of Cootes bordering the park is showing distressing signs of being 'loved to death', and this is where the Churchill Park Master Plan comes in.


A special place in the park. The cherry trees were a gift from our sister city, Fukuyama Japan, and the rustic benches were built by local high school students out of wood from the beloved Churchill Oak.

Our community is about halfway through a Master Plan process that is the first one in the city to be primarily citizen-driven. We are a noisy bunch in Westdale, and passionate about our park. I have been impressed by the openness and flexibility shown by the city in response to our community's clearly articulated need not just to be consulted, but to have a direct hand in shaping the future of our only significant public space.

Running concurrently with the public process are staff processes and an engineering study to deal with the park's significant drainage issues. Final plans will have to be approved by the RBG, which owns the land, and the Hamilton Conservation Authority that manages the nearby watershed. The Cootes Paradise link which includes the park was added to the Niagara Escarpment Planning Area in 2010, which means NEC approval will be required as well. As a participant in the public process, it has been a privilege to watch as the layers of this amazingly complex space are peeled back.

As I mentioned, the forest bordering the park is in decline, and it has become apparent over the last few years that the current management and configuration of the park is contributing to this decline. The lack of a buffer between the mowed areas of the playing fields and the forest edge has encouraged the proliferation of invasive species such as garlic mustard.

The lack of defined access points to the trails has lead to trampling and erosion, and the park's drainage problems have contributed to erosion as well. One of the many positive things that has come out of the process so far is a community consensus on the high value we place on the health of the forest, and a willingness to be good stewards of this resource by sacrificing some of our open space to the creation of woodland buffer zones and wetland habitats.


Grand entrance to one of the most precious ecosystems in the country. I suppose there's something to be said for keeping it low key.

Another wonderful thing to witness has been the emergence of a community consensus on the values of inclusion and accessibility. In its current state, the park is almost comical in its lack of accessibility for all but the most able-bodied and unencumbered.

For a park that is over 19 hectares in size, there are only three clearly defined accessible points of entry. One is tucked away at the end of a residential street and leads only as far as the playground, another is a paved walkway leading only as far as the former lawn bowling club, and lastly there is the vehicle access to the Aviary parking lot. There are no accessible, connected pedestrian pathways anywhere in the park.


The Glen Road access point to the playground.


Entryway to the Aviary, Teaching Gardens, and community gardens. Pedestrians need not apply.

Human beings are undeterred of course, so strong desire lines criss-cross the park, but unfortunately these narrow dirt footpaths are inaccessible for anyone with mobility issues, from the elderly and disabled, to parents with young children in strollers. Parents have adapted by gamely pushing their strollers through the bogs and bumpy grass, but elderly and disabled members of our community are effectively banned from their neighbourhood park.

While there remain some advocates for the status quo, there is a growing realization, reflected in the goals of the public stakeholder group, that the current state of affairs is both unfair and unhealthy for the fabric of our community. Accessible pathways will also go a long way to resolving another one of the park's issues: the lack of connectivity with Westdale's unique street grid and the schoolgrounds of neighbouring George R. Allan School.


A point of connection with the street grid. Welcome to Churchill Park. Please go away.


No defined entry point at Marion and Cline. Marion is the only direct connection from the park to King St., so this is the face the park presents to anyone approaching it from Westdale's commercial district.

Another theme that has emerged from the public process is a strong desire for more gathering places and focal points in the park. Physical elements such as shade, seating, outdoor structures, and public art made the wish list, but also programming to engage all ages and backgrounds.


The former Churchill Fields Lawn Bowling Club, designed by Stanley Roscoe. The community is grappling with its re-purposing. All we know is that we love it and we want it.

Don't get me wrong. Churchill Park is already a very animated and beloved space, and there is a case to be made that very little needs to be done in order for it to fulfill the community's needs. But the honest examination of the park's assets, and our community's needs and aspirations, has revealed a few missing pieces. In many ways, this precious space between old growth forest and urban neighbourhood turns its back on both nature and culture.

If this park is to become the vital, engaging space that the community wants, and the space that this city needs in which to explore the vital human/nature connection, I can think of worse places to start than with the themes that have emerged from the Master Plan process thus far: the collective will to be good stewards of our natural areas, inclusiveness and accessibility that better connects people to the park and the park to surrounding neighbourhoods, and gathering places and programming that bring human culture into the park to engage the natural world through art and play.

A public information session is taking place this Thursday May 12, from 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the Temple Anshe Sholom at 215 Cline Ave N. in Westdale. The latest concept drawings will be presented, followed by a Q & A and the opportunity for discussions with the consulting landscape architects. All are welcome.

Mary Louise Pigott thanks Tys Theysmeyer of the RBG, Lawrence Stasiuk, Landscape Architect for the City of Hamilton, and Paul O'Hara of Blue Oak Native Landscapes for providing important background information for this article.

Mary Louise Pigott is an armchair urbanist and founding member of the Useful Knowledge Society, whose passion for urban neighbourhoods and public spaces occasionally moves her to write.

You can follow her on twitter at @mlhpigott.

52 Comments

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 01:07:51

interesting I drove by churchill park on thursday afternoon. beautiful day. someone was sitting on the aforementioned bench, reading under the cherry blossoms. It was truly a personal breathtaking moment and made me realize why I secretly love Hamilton.

Talking about ecological degradation, I remember running cross country through the forest and park back in high school too.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 06:24:01

Great article, with some pointed observations and suggestions.

We need more of this type of contribution to RTH.

Well done.

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By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 07:34:15

Thank you Mary Louise for taking the time to write this insightful article. Despite the student housing problems, Westdale has much to offer as a neighbourhood, including Churchill Park. Thanks for the update about recent developments and debates.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 07:58:44 in reply to Comment 63290

It was truly a personal breathtaking moment and made me realize why I secretly love Hamilton.

And the crabapple trees aren't even out yet. Within the next couple of days the crabs and the Eastern Redbud will be out and the place will be a riot of colour and fragrance. God, we're blessed. And not just Westdale, but all of Hamilton.

PS Mike, you don't need to keep it a secret anymore. ;)

Mary Louise

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 09:16:58 in reply to Comment 63298

I'm a little disappointed by your outing yourself here - I thought that I was in on a little secret, having sussed out that Highwater was you (and vice versa).

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 09:22:18

I've often frowned with an inarticulate sort of displeasure at the Marion and Cline entrance to the park and now you've put words to that displeasure: this corner should an obvious gateway drawing people to a great place. But it isn't an entrance at all. It's a civic shrug. "Meh," it proclaims.

I'm glad that the city is giving Churchill Park some serious attention. The great city parks and even the good city parks - Central Park, Mount Royal, High Park, Gore Park, Gage Park - don't just happen; they're not just some conveniently located grass and trees. They are designed and built.

Civic planning in Hamilton is often associated with the dire (downtown expressways; the razing of York; the rape of Gore Park). But there have been glories in the distant past (Gore Park; the RBG; Gage Park; York Blvd) and signs of hope in recent past (the restoration of Gore Park and James Street North). So I will look forward to Thursday evening and expect to be thrilled.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-05-10 09:24:19

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 09:22:19 in reply to Comment 63302

Sorry, Ken. I've outed myself before. It was a pretty badly kept secret. :)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 09:27:06

Does anyone know if there are plans for a paved path to Cline? I've always found the difficulty of pushing a stroller to that playground to be its biggest failing.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 09:49:18 in reply to Comment 63306

The three concept drawings that have been produced to date are all showing a link from Cline to the playground area. A fourth concept will be presented at the public meeting on Thurs based on the feedback from the previous three.

Pxtl if you can, please come out to the meeting. The city and consultants need to hear about some of the challenges young families have with this park.

Mary Louise

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 10:00:29 in reply to Comment 63307

I actually really wanted to get out to the first one, but sadly my family came down with a bug. Hopefully I'll be out to the next one on Thursday, but either way it sounds like the plans have covered all of my needs for the park - we tried to have a birthday party there once for my boy, but the lack of a shaded eating area, bathrooms, and the fact that the various sports eat up all the parking made it challenging. All of those revisions are included in the master plan.

But yes, I plan to be there.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 10:30:44

How is this going to play into the bigger picture of cycling routes across the area? On one side you've got the exit from the waterfront trail, and on the other a busy commercial area and a University. Until this point, I've always skirted around the park, largely due to the mud issues mentioned above. Paved paths would change that though, depending on how they're laid. It has the potential to become a fairly major route, but that comes with its own consequences for other users...

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 10:50:03

Nice work MLP

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 10:59:49 in reply to Comment 63314

You're right about that Undustrial. A paved, multi-use pathway through the park is still a bone of contention. Not sure how it will play out.

Mary Louise

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2011 at 11:30:32 in reply to Comment 63314

Even a simple path running from Cline to the playground and widening of the asphalt surrounding the playground would be a boon to cyclists - go down Cline, through the park, and then you can take Glen Rd. to the bridge.

Right now my morning commute involves pulling 2 kids in a Chariot trailer. I end up pulling them through G.R.Allan's entry path and through the playground since I'm doing it at 8:15 before there's any foot-traffic there, but it's obviously illegal and not the best approach... but I don't want to pull my bike trailer onto King.

This would obviously be good for children and teens in the area that are biking around themselves the whole area from the 403 Bridge over to the Rail Trail is pretty well-connected thanks to the good bike-paths along Sterling and the nice crossing across Cootes Drive. The only place where cyclists need to pull onto a high-traffic road in an unprotected manner is getting around Churchill/GRAllan on King.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 16:04:25

Another great article.

I spend a great deal of time at Churchill Park and the Aviary back when I was a Mac student. A great part of town that does not receive as much attention as it should. Alas this is all too common in Hamilton I am sad to say.

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By logonfire (registered) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 09:28:58

If you live on Parkside Drive across from the park, you will be well aware of the noise and other disturbances which come from the park late at night. I am not going to point any fingers but the better and easier the access is made, the more rampaging (young?) people will be out there at times residents wish they were not. Hopefully, this issue will be raised, discussed and resolved as time goes by.

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By Tinmouse (registered) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:00:37

Perhaps the more impressive and special the park becomes, the more it will be treated with respect. Just look at the benches at the aviary...not a scratch of vandalism on them. Perhaps the rampaging (young )just view the park as a big empty field...maybe because it is one. Perhaps if it is more accessable to those with weaker ankles, then there would be a better mix of ages at all times of the day. Noise and youth are an issue for many all throughout Westdale...try living on Sterling or King and Parkside Drive will start to look much better. Exciting change to this park has my vote

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:12:48 in reply to Comment 63375

... the better and easier the access is made, the more rampaging (young?) people will be out there at times residents wish they were not.

So first of all, I am calling my next band "Rampaging (young)". Though I'm not sure that myspace will let me have parentheses in my URL. Anyhow ...

Secondly, it's the out-of-the-way places where the rampaging (young) like to congregate: alleys (like behind my place), empty playgrounds and school yards. They tend not to rampage (youngly) on, say, King West because there's too much traffic.

Now, as Tinmouse points out, the migrating, drunken young university students - unlike the rampaging (young (high school students)) - will take the easiest routes, and share their noise with those of us who live on or near Sterling and King. And a nice path through the park might count as an "easiest route". But I'm not aware of many student houses on or behind Parkside yet, so the residents are probably safe.

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By Joe Minor (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 15:23:19

We have already encroached enough on Cootes Paradise, and the result is an "extinction debt". We loose about a species per year from Cootes because of all of the vegetation we have already converted to roads and pathways. If we cease paving our parks, the extinction debt will eventually be paid and the loss of species will slow to zero. If we continue to pave our parks, the loss of species will not slow but will continue. Eventually we will all have easy access to all of the places where wildlife used to be.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2011 at 15:28:20 in reply to Comment 63398

We loose about a species per year from Cootes because of all of the vegetation we have already converted to roads and pathways.

I ask in all earnestness: is a huge swath of grass with a paved path going through it any worse - ecologically speaking - than a huge swath of grass?

That said, I'm not really in favour of having the official bike route take a shortcut along a multi-use path in a park. Utility bike traffic - commuters, shoppers - is just fine on King Street West, Bond and Longwood. The only problem being the one-way stretch between the Metro and the bridge.

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By Joe Minor (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 15:48:01

Response to Moylek: Yes.
Part of the problem it that the City is incapable of building a paved path less than 3 meters wide. So, there is a large loss of vegetation, and grass makes for cleaner air while pavement makes dirtier air. Then there is road kill: high speed bicycle traffic doesn't stop for wildlife (or much else for that matter). The 3 meter wide roads fragment the park (making ever smaller "islands"). The paved pathways are raised and impound water, which is then diverted into sewers rather than infiltrating and serving the water needs of the natural areas downstream. Maintenance of pavement is expensive, and involves repeated applications of pollutants (e.g., PAHs) which then pollute the environment.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2011 at 16:45:56 in reply to Comment 63375

Last I checked, students did not have small wheels that require paved paths to navigate the park.

Strollers, on the other hand, do.

Now, considering that play structures are generally designed for small children, which do you think would most benefit from a paved path to the playground?

And as for Minor's concern about wildlife, most of the paths are going to be laid adjascent to existing structures. I doubt a path running up from Cline to the playground is going to be any less disruptive than the Synagogue, the play-structure, and GRAllan's massive asphalt lot that will be adjascent to these new paths.

I agree that no new paving should be done on the far side of the park - over by the forested area. But it seems absurd to worry about the ecological impact of the landscaping hundreds of feet away from any naturalized terrain and stuck right next to buildings.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 18:17:07 in reply to Comment 63398

I encourage you to look at the plans on the link. Apart from an expansion of the school parking lot, no one is talking about paving the park. A multi-use pathway is still on the table but is not a foregone conclusion. The majority of proposed pathways will be some type of natural material.

No one is more concerned about the forest decline and 'extinction debt' in Cootes than the RBG, and RBG representatives have been part of this process from day one, and will have final approval of the plans, so you can rest assured that any development in the park will be designed to have as low an impact on the forest as possible.

In fact, many of the proposed changes to the park are specifically designed to stem the forest decline. The woodland buffer zones, the wetland habitats, the reduction in access points to the trails, even the increase in the number of pathways in the park, are all designed to take pressure off the woods.

Mary Louise

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-05-11 18:19:43

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By Joe Minor (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 20:24:57 in reply to Comment 63406

I have looked at the link, and I am unimpressed by the way public comments are being handled by the consultant. It is something less than honest to say "66% support a multi-use pathway" while hiding an asterisk eight lines above and hiding the explanation of the asterisk on a later page. After sorting through the layers of deceit, it becomes clear that the consultant counted "No Preference" as "Support". It is likely that the number of people no "don't support" a multi-use pathway actually outnumber those who "support" it. A raised pathway, paved or not, will disrupt water flows to the natural areas.

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By Joe Minor (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 20:50:00 in reply to Comment 63403

You are right that GRAllan's asphalt lot is massive and that is why is should not be expanded. The reason to be concerned about more paving in the park, regardless of its location, is that replacing vegetation with pavement does alot of harm to the environment. There may be better and worse places, but all paving in the park is harmful.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 23:19:10 in reply to Comment 63408

Water flows to the natural areas are causing erosion. Thats why wetland habitats are being proposed to retain the water in the park. In any case, the multi-use pathway is not carved in stone, nor would it necessarily be asphalt.

Much of the impetus for the master plan is to resolve the things about the park that are contributing to the decline of the forest. If the rbg reps feel a multi-use pathway would sabotage those efforts, I'm sure they'll veto it. I hope you can come out to the meeting and voice your concerns.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2011 at 00:03:17 in reply to Comment 63402

Providing the path were concrete rather than asphalt (PAHs), bordered by ditches/swales to divert water and trees/bushes for air quality, how do-able would this be?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 12, 2011 at 01:21:00 in reply to Comment 63418

That might allay some of the ecological concerns, but there would still be the issue you mentioned earlier of the impact of a potential bike commuter route on other park users.

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By Joe Minor (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2011 at 09:52:36 in reply to Comment 63412

There are many problems caused by replacing vegetation with dead space (paved or unpaved). While the current runoff is causing some erosion, there is no reason to believe killing vegetation and replacing in with impervious surfaces will help (in fact it will clearly hurt). A bigger problem than erosion is that dead areas (i.e., multiuse trails) exacerbate sheet runoff, which after the erosion problems then causes the area to dry out (probably the larger ecological problem).

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By Joe Minor (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:00:59 in reply to Comment 63418

There are numerous ecological problems caused by replacing living vegetation with dead space. Concrete only solves one (the nasties that come off asphalt). Concrete still causes sheet runoff (exacerbating erosion problems) and acts as a dam, disturbing water flows to natural areas. The problem is spikes in peak flow that cause erosion in the short term, combined with a drying effect in the long term. As for the numerous other problems that come from killing vegetation and replacing it with dead space, please see the other comments.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:03:34 in reply to Comment 63410

Sounds like you're against all pavement everywhere, in which case a short strip for cyclists, strollers, and pedestrians is the least of your worries.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:15:53 in reply to Comment 63421

Sadly, that's where the width comes in, and that increases impact.

Still not decided on this issue personally, but it would be really nice for bike traffic leaving the waterfront trail for the University or other westbound directions without riding down King for a block or two. Whether this skirts the school or cuts more broadly accross the park, it would make a real difference for younger, older or amateur cyclists who aren't into challenging a bottleneck of King-St traffic.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:59:46 in reply to Comment 63387

The park in general and the playground in particular are already late evening and night time havens for the underage crowd for drinking. "and rampaging?"

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:46:05 in reply to Comment 63436

Is this really such a big deal? Your probably have more pavement in front of your house.

To me, this one's a no-brainer. Encouring cycling and outdoor activities for children is always a good thing.

If we want to protect green-space, we should be fighting to prevent the homebuilders from completing their apparent goal of paving the entire green-belt, not prevent a strip of roadway that will encourage the kind of urban pedestrian/cycle living that is good for the environment.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 09:43:29

Okay, I went to the meeting.

First, I'm happy the city workers are trying this hard to engage the public in this decision process (although there are obvious concerns that it may all be for show and they'll do what they want anyways)... because after seeing how those meetings go, I know I sure wouldn't bother if I were them.

Second off, all those paths? They're not going to be asphalt, but some kind of natural, granulated surface. Personally I'm worried that it won't be functional for strollers and street bikes, but it still be a major improvement, and hopefully it will allay the worries of people who want to keep the park natural.... well, as "natural" as 15 hectares of manicured grass can be.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 13, 2011 at 11:38:11 in reply to Comment 63480

I WISH city staff would just do what they want, because it's clear that they recognize that this park doesn't even comply with the Canadians with Disabilities Act in it's current state, and needs to be made more accessible for everyone.

However, Lawrence Stasiuk made it clear that if there is too much disagreement over certain park elements, they will do nothing and we will be left with the status quo, and the anti-accessibility people will get their way.

The only agency here that will get its way regardless of public sentiment is the RBG, which is only right as they own the land, and their mandate to preserve the forest must supercede all other interests. Tys (the RBG rep) made it pretty clear that the pathways will not harm the forest, and that in fact the perimeter pathway will help protect it.

Mary Louise

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 11:49:55 in reply to Comment 63490

Oh the joys of public consultation.

If the surface is anything like the hard-packed rail trails up the escarpment, it shouldn't be much of an issue for road bikes. No more so than many of our roads, at least.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:08:57 in reply to Comment 63491

I hope so, but even the hard-packed pug surface on the rail trails can get deep ruts that turn into mud pits after rainy weather.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 14:36:02

the anti-accessibility people will get their way.

I'm not keeping up very well. Who are the anti-accessibility people again?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 14:55:06 in reply to Comment 63496

A large number of the neighbors surround the area don't appear to want anything that will encourage usage of the park - seating, walkways, and parking were constantly attacked, either for environmentalist reasons, aesthetics, partying-young-people worries, or strange ideas about teenagers taking daddy's pickup-truck and joyriding across the park thanks to the road-width paths being planned.

And yes, at the meeting several folks were saying, roughly "well, some disabled people don't require wheeled access and have other means of getting around" and some suggestions that the ever-ephemeral "they" should develop better technologies for disabled persons.

Oh, and one guy who was into dowsing who suggested there was a secret cemetery under the park that must be protected.

I may have speakers confused, but city representatives said that they were prevented from providing a free lot parking lot in that it would be exploited by the patrons and staff of McMaster. Can any McMasterites confirm my suspicion that the far side of GRAllan is way too freaking far for anybody to bother doing that? I live several blocks closer and I don't see many such folks curbside.

This isn't just a park, it's local sports-fields, so the park-side parking along Parkside (say that five times fast) is constantly packed as teams aren't necessarily composed of 100% local players.

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By Tinmouse (registered) | Posted May 13, 2011 at 15:38:35 in reply to Comment 63497

Don't the wise folks near the park...er...big open boring field, realize that some day they too may age or have some difficulty getting around and may actually want to take a stroll around some nice pathways? Maybe walk their grandkids to the playground, or the splash pad? The park is not an extension of their front lawns...it's a community space meant for ALL !

Comment edited by Tinmouse on 2011-05-13 15:41:59

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 16:29:11 in reply to Comment 63497

Would this mean another parking lot, or just free access evenings/weekends to the school lot?

I must say, the anti-accessibility stuff is sad.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2011 at 17:31:21 in reply to Comment 63500

Both... sort of.

A northern widening of the existing staff parking lot at GRA to accomodate 10-15 more spots and making it available for public use on evenings and weekends.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 14, 2011 at 11:30:55 in reply to Comment 63501

I can see the opposition to parking lot expansion. But it seems silly not to let people use the existing lot on weekends. I wasn't aware they weren't allowed to.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 14, 2011 at 18:16:23 in reply to Comment 63509

Both the teachers' lot and the schoolgrounds are often used after hours. I know the board has an arrangement with the Temple for example.

If the board's current proposal to close Prince Philip and bus the students to GR ends up being accepted at the end of the ARC, there will be an additional 200 students at GR, and an expanded teachers' lot will be needed to accommodate the extra staff.

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By JoeMinor (registered) | Posted May 19, 2011 at 19:27:54

Try thinking from another point a view, try a swift:

We are swifts. We are a Threatened Species At Risk that lives in Churchill Park at the edge of Cootes Paradise. We and 1,581 other species call Cootes Paradise home. We have lived here for ages, and we have shared our home with you. Please respect our home, and be careful when you visit to play. Because you have taken so much away from our home for pavement, what you have left us is not enough for all of us to survive. As a result, every other year one of our friends (the entire species) disappears from Cootes forever.* Could you please give a little of the park back to Cootes? Maybe around the edges? When you come to the park, please do not kill. Even the grass makes bugs. Bugs are yummy, and if we can’t catch enough fast enough our babies will starve. We need your help. We are worried that your Churchill Park Master Plan proposes more killing in the park. Since we do not have eMAIL, please contact our friend Joe at jminor@cogeco.ca if you have questions.

*Due to various forms of human encroachment, Cootes Paradise is suffering extirpations at a rate of 0.5 species/year.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 25, 2011 at 11:10:06 in reply to Comment 63812

I received this text in a flyer dropped door-to-door in my neighborhood.

Apparently protecting the environment doesn't include trees.

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By resident on park (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2011 at 11:02:31

With regards to Pxtl's comment about McMaster students, staff & faculty not wanting to park so far from campus - please be assured that there are several people who regularly park their cars on Parkside & walk to campus (in all weathers). And if residents of Parkside manage to get a spot in front of (or near) their house, the McMaster people park on Kipling, Bond... any street fairly close so as to save the enormous parking fees at the university. And it's not just McMaster people parking in "our" spots (the spots that any other home owner would expect to have in front of their house), we also have to contend with the many many cars of the baseball & soccer & ultimate frisbee teams. Living across from the park is wonderful - but we do have various problems to deal with (including the youth who have actually been such a problem that they caused residents to move!).

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By JoeMinor (registered) | Posted May 28, 2011 at 20:25:37

The problem with the current form of the Churchill Park Master Plan is that it does not correctly balance the "wants" (for optional recreation) of a single species that visits the park with the "needs" (for survival) of the 1,582 species that live in Cootes. From a barn swallow's perspective:

We are barn swallows. We are a Threatened Species At Risk that lives in Churchill Park at the edge of Cootes Paradise. We fly really low, really fast and pick insects off of the grass. When you play soccer, your thundering herds flush even more insects for us to eat. Thank you for the yummy bugs. We and 1,581 other species call Cootes Paradise home. We have lived here for ages, and we have shared our home with you. Please respect our home, and be careful when you visit to play. When you surrounded Cootes with pavement, what you left us is not enough for all of us to survive. As a result, every other year one of our friends (the entire species) disappears from Cootes forever.* Could you please give a little of the park back to Cootes? Maybe around the edges? When you come to the park, please do not kill. Even the grass produces bugs. If we can’t catch enough fast enough our babies will starve. We need your help. We are worried that your Churchill Park Master Plan proposes too much killing in the park. Since we do not have eMAIL, please contact our friend Joe at jminor@cogeco.ca if you have questions.

*Due to various forms of human encroachment, Cootes Paradise is suffering extirpations (local “extinctions”) at a rate of 0.5 species/year.

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By Tinmouse (registered) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 11:02:04 in reply to Comment 64155

They love man-made structures to build their homes....perhaps a barn or two should be worked into the master plan ( built on stilts of course to prevent even more Kentucky bluegrass from being covered up) Talk to the folks at the RBG...I expect there is nobody more concerned about all of this than them and I expect that your concerns will really not be an issue at all. In the meantime, please save some trees and stop sending hundreds of your paper flyers into our landfill

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 11:23:37

This is nothing new. My wife worked with various groups (city, RBG, school board, temple, residents) on the installation of a sidewalk at the edge of the park along the north side of Cline Ave about 8 years ago. Until then, any child arriving by foot at G.R. Allan or the Temple had to cross Cline Ave. mid-block. There was HUGE resistance to the installation of a sidewalk at that time. I defy anyone to say it hasn't been a remarkable improvement. People are so afraid of change.

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By WestdaleBorn (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2013 at 01:31:19

I really appreciate this article. It's thoughtful and makes some great points about the rare and valuable natural areas in Westdale. But I don't see the unwelcoming aspect of the photos that the author clearly does. I know it's late to comment, but I had to add my thoughts. I went to GRA decades ago and we weren't fazed by the lack of a path along the park. There was a sidewalk right across the street if we wanted it. Usually, though, we liked to ramble along the grass by the bowling green, that is an experience most urban kids surely do not have. And as a Mac student, the RBG and the trails were an oasis of beauty and peace, and I liked the fact that paths weren't forced on me in the park. For me, it's not a huge negative that there aren't signs and walkways everywhere. The existence of the park itself is an invitation to "enter" it - I don't need a sign to tell me to do so.

But the entire Cootes area is surely in need of protection, as the author points out so well. This is a unique and beautiful corner of nature, which was lovely to grow up with, right next to the campus and the village. If it takes mommies and strollers to protect it and keep it up, so be it. I just wish there weren't so many greedy landlords wrecking Westdale with their noisy, rundown student houses. Those houses were meant for families, not hooligans.

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