The Need – An Irreplaceable Resource at Risk
The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark campaign is working to secure, protect and enhance access to cornerstone properties within one of Canada’s biologically richest areas. Featuring more than 1,500 plant and animal species, the optimal footprint of the proposed park is home to 25% of all wild plant species in Canada, nearly 40% of all plant species in Ontario, and more than 50 species at risk. In the face of rapid growth and urban pressures – projections for the next two decades forecast a 37% population increase in the region – these irreplaceable, rare and even endangered species need protection. The best way to do that is to secure and steward their habitats.
Long-Term Vision – One of Canada’s Greatest Urban Nature Parks
Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC is just over 400 hectares. Nose Hill Park in Calgary, AB is 1,127 hectares. Fully constituted, the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System will incorporate a 1,950-hectare land base and protect the only natural habitat connection from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment that is unbroken by a major highway. The long-term vision for the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is to create a unique urban reserve that reaches across the city limits of Hamilton and Burlington and establishes an ecologically significant natural corridor linking two watersheds and what is currently a patchwork of publicly and privately owned land.
The park will be sustainable, accessible and united by a network of public trails while also providing a singular resource for scholarly research, teaching and public programming. Much of the parkland is already publicly owned, primarily by the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Conservation Halton, local municipalities and McMaster University. The vision will be complete when an additional 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of priority lands are under stewardship and incorporated into the park. The project partners – which include the public landowners, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club and other provincial and community organizations – are committed to a prudent and strategic process that will secure and maintain the lands required to achieve the long-term vision for the project.