Monthly Archives: November 2013

Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision Project receives $171,600 OTF Grant

Hamilton Conservation Authority is pleased to announce that they and their partners who are working on the Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy project have received a $171,600 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Funds from the three-year grant will be used to hire a Strategy Manager to implement the first 10 priorities of the Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy.

“The Dundas Valley is a critical piece of our community landscape,” said the Hon. Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. “The roots of our local history come from this land. As a healthy haven from the pressures of growth, the Valley provides habitat for many natural species, a classroom for students, trails for families, a home for local agriculture and more. I am proud to live in this region that values the Valley and its blessings and heartily support this project which will ensure its sustainability.”

The Strategy, developed in 2008, looks at the Dundas Valley 50 years from now. It looks at how community partners can protect the Dundas Valley’s diverse cultural and natural heritage, and sustain its agricultural, recreational and economic viability over the next 50 years. Over the past two years, under the guidance of a community steering committee, the project has identified 10 priority areas for implementation and developed action plans for each. The Strategy Manager will be responsible for implementing the 10 action plans with the support of a variety of local community groups.

The organizations involved in the initiative are: Hamilton Conservation Authority, Dundas Valley Historical Society, Manorun Farm, Giant’s Rib Discovery Centre, and Dundas in Transition.

“We are extremely grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting this Vision project,” said Brian McHattie, Chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority. “Through collaboration with community partners, the Vision Strategy gives us the opportunity to sustain and enhance this unique and precious area. The Dundas Valley as a whole is significant not only locally, but on a national and international scale. It’s these types of collaborative projects which help the Niagara Escarpment maintain its status as a World Biosphere Reserve while benefiting the residents and visitors who live and play here.”

For more information on the Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy, please visit The leading grant-maker in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF helps build healthy and vibrant communities. For more information, please visit:

Hamilton Start up WalkBug helps the EcoPark Campaign

The EcoPark Borer’s Falls Walk was unveiled at Software Hamilton’s DemoCamp which took place on November 25th at the Twelve Eighty Student Pub at McMaster University.

The Borer’s Falls EcoPark Walk was developed by Walkbug, winners at the recent October 10th Lions Lair. Walkbug is a mobile experience which allows users to create and share curated walking tours. The software will allow travellers to experience any city as the locals do and allow locals to unearth hidden gems in their neighbourhood. It is it as an exciting social network for walking developed here in Hamilton!

To date, WalkBug has created several downtown Hamilton walking tours but the Borer’s Falls EcoPark Walk is the first walk to highlight some of Hamilton’s conservation areas. WalkBug is creating two further EcoPark Walks: the Desjardins Canal Parklands Walk, and the Cartwright Nature Sanctuary Walk.

For further information on Walkbug, visit, and for further information on the EcoPark, visit Ecopark Campaign.


Walkbug software developer Nageeb Twal showing us the Borer’s Falls Walk on the Walkbug App.

MACgreen presents $12,000 cheque to the Foundation

McMaster University Students have raised $12,000 through the October 19th Color Me Rad Event for the Ecopark Campaign to protect environmentally significant grasslands located north of campus between Cootes Paradise and the Niagara Escarpment. These grasslands will form part of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System. The McMaster University campus organizations involved in the Color Me Rad EcoPark Grasslands Initiative included the MSU, MacGreen, MacServe and the Mac Outdoor Club. In addition, Ashley Verrall, a Mohawk College Recreation and Leisure student, assisted with the McMaster student Color Me Rad initiative.

The McMaster students have pledged to raise a total of $25,000 to secure Ecopark Grasslands and further fundraising initiatives in Westdale and Dundas are planned. For further information on the McMaster Student initiative, MacGreen for Grasslands, contact Wayne Terrybery at 905-525-9140 ext 26384, or Allyson Wenzowski at 905-379-7353.

McMaster students presenting cheque to Foundation chairman

Left to right: David Campbell, President, McMaster Students Union, Richard MacDonald, Chair, Hamilton Conservation Foundation Board, Katlin Jingco, MSU MacGreen, Wayne Terryberry, Outdoor Recreation & Chair – President’s Advisory Committee on Cootes Paradise.


Cherish it. Protect it.

Within our industrial city’s borders are places of incredible natural beauty. These trails, forests, meadows, streams and waterfalls are among the last “green spaces” available for us, and for future generations, to experience and enjoy. We have a unique opportunity to protect and conserve the natural lands, waterways and cultural heritage sites that add so much to our quality of life. It’s in our power to make a difference by safeguarding the habitat of birds, animals, fish and plants.

Your nature – your legacy.

The Hamilton Conservation Foundation raises awareness, funds and resources for the important work of Hamilton Conservation Authority. We invite those who cherish Hamilton’s natural wonders to join us in protecting and enhancing them. Together we can leave a legacy for generations to come.

Goemans Family donates $50,000 to breathe new life into Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area

Longstanding residents of the Stoney Creek and east Hamilton community, the Goemans, have made a generous donation to improve the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area, in honour of the late Tony Goemans. The donation will enable the Conservation Authority to replace the existing cross structure with a brighter, more efficient, structurally sound model. The funding will also enable additional improvements to the surrounding landscaping and existing amenities.

“All three generations of us Goemans boys enjoyed exploring this wonderful hidden gem that’s right in our backyard” says Jason Goemans, eldest son of his late father.” Growing up as kids we played, hiked, made forts & fires around the Punchbowl area and Bruce trail… as we got older and had our own kids we re-experienced the same fun and added great memories all over again. My dad and I would walk our dogs every morning for nearly 15 years, rain or shine, discussing every topic of life. Precious time I now cherish even more. My late son, Hunter too loved to go up with his papa and throw sticks in the creek and look out over the city spotting landmarks he recognized. We have a deep connection with that place and hope that other families get to appreciate what we’ve known our whole lives. It’s truly a remarkable green space that offers breathtaking views of the city. It is also in our opinion underutilized and hopefully this donation will spark some more interest”

Family Background:

Goemans family patriarch, Tony Goemans, founded Goemans Appliances in 1978. The addition of his three sons Brad, Jeff and Jason provided an appetite for growth and it wasn’t long before the company capitalized on opportunities within the industry and expanded from one location to six locations. Goemans is now recognized as one of the largest leading independent appliance retailers in Ontario with more growth on the horizon. Tony passed away from cancer this past August. He was survived by his wife Donna, his three sons, his daughter Tasha, four grandchildren, two sisters, a brother and several nieces and nephews. Tony was the ultimate family man who was respected by his peers, staff, friends, family and acquaintances for being a genuinely kind and gentle soul. The family are active volunteers within the community, having raised money to establish the Hunter Goemans fund in support of Ronald McDonald House, the Catholic Youth Organization’s Camp Marydale and the CommonSenseFence campaign. The public-information campaign highlights the need for proper markings on chains across roads.

Devil’s Punchbowl History:

In the 1930s, local residents began decorating a large Christmas tree off Ridge Road at the top of the Devil’s Punchbowl with red and green lights. The tree’s position at the edge of the escarpment face made decorating the tree more precarious each year until, in 1961, the dying tree was replaced by a wooden cross structure by Ontario Hydro workers William Sinclair, Murray Hyslop and Bert Tyman. After 5 years, the wooden structure had succumbed to the elements and was replaced by a former hydro tower from Birch Avenue in Hamilton. The new structure would be lit each year to send a message of goodwill during Christmas and Easter. Starting in 1991, the Stoney Creek branch of the Knights of Columbus began raising funds to have the cross lit year-round.

Tony Goemans

Tony Goemans (image courtesy Goemans Family)


The Goemans Family

“All three generations of us Goemans boys enjoyed exploring this wonderful hidden gem that’s right in our backyard” says Jason Goemans, eldest son of his late father Tony. “Growing up as kids we played, hiked, made forts & fires around the Devil’s Punchbowl area and Bruce trail… as we got older and had our own kids we re-experienced the same fun and added great memories all over again. My dad and I would walk our dogs every morning for nearly 15 years, rain or shine, discussing every topic of life. Precious time I now cherish even more. My late son, Hunter too loved to go up with his papa and throw sticks in the creek and look out over the city spotting landmarks he recognized. We have a deep connection with that place and hope that other families get to appreciate what we’ve known our whole lives. It’s truly a remarkable green space that offers breathtaking views of the city. It is also in our opinion underutilized and hopefully our donation will spark some more interest.”

Jason Goemans on behalf of the Goemans Family, November, 2013

How much is Hamilton’s green space really worth?

In our 2013 Fall Vista newsletter we take a shot at calculating just how much Hamilton’s green space is really worth in economic terms. Here’s the breakdown of how we got there! If you have any questions about the math, feel free to email article author and Foundation Administrative Coordator Toby Tresidder at

$1.2 billion in Home Equity:

1.) We started by picking the three communities with the highest concentration of conservation lands in Hamilton: Ancaster, Dundas and Flamborough.

2.) According to the REALTORS Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB)’s August report found at the seasonally-adjusted average sale price for residential properties in Hamilton-Burlington was $384,341.

3.) According to the same report 48 properties in Ancaster sold for an average price of $460,081, 23 in Dundas for an average of $430,970 and 20 in Flamborough for an average of $479,875. This works out to an average sale price of $457,073 which is $72,732 above the market-wide average sale price listed in the previous point.

4.) A study commissioned by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans by the University of British Columbia calculates the positive impact of green space proximity to account for between 10 and 15 percent of a home’s value. You can find the study at A literature review of other similar studies conducted by American Trails ( found that proximity to green space accounted for between 5 and 33 percent of a home’s value.

5.) If we take a conservative view that half of the $72,732 that we looked at was owing to proximity to green space, that amount would be $36,366 or 7.9 percent of the average sale price.

6.) According to the Ward Profiles on the City of Hamilton’s website at, there are 33,215 homes in Ancaster (Ward 12), Dundas (Ward 13) and Flamborough (Wards 14 & 15).

7.) If we multiply the number of homes in these Wards (33,215) by the average amount of equity in each home that is owing to proximity to green space ($36,366) we get a total of $1,207,896,690 ($1.2 billion) in equity owing to green space.

$23.9 million per year – Health Care Savings

1.) A study at the University Essex ( estimates that £2,243 in health care costs were saved if an individual spends regular time in nature.

2.) At the time of publication, we used the currency calculator to change this amount to Canadian dollars, which came out to $3,983.

3.) There are over 6,000 individuals who hold passes to Hamilton Conservation Areas through the Nature’s Rewards program:

4.) We multiplied the number of passholders (6,000) by the average cost savings ($3,983) and came out with a total of $23,898,000 in total health care savings as a result of community members visiting local Conservation Areas each year.

$11.9 million per year – Agriculture

1.) Hamilton Economic Development estimates the value of Hamilton’s agricultural industry at $1.26 billion in the study found here:

2.) European scientists estimate that 9.5 per cent of agricultural production is reliant on wild pollinators in a study reported here:

3.) 9.5 per cent of Hamilton’s $1.26 billion agricultural industry accounts for $11,970,000 in economic impact each year.

Locomotive Restoration at Westfield remains a tender subject

It’s just about impossible to make it through Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton without basking in the splendour of the TH&B Locomotive 103. The hulking locomotive serves as an enduring reminder of the engineering genius of the steam power era.  Many are familiar with its story, having made it to Westfield by way of Gage Park and nearly succumbing to age, weather and rust at least a half-dozen times. While the locomotive is no longer in any serious danger, the upkeep is a constant labour of love.

In recent years, Westfield’s “TH&B 103 Restoration Crew” has worked to maintain the locomotive, install an air compressor for the whistle, and finish off the Cab’s gauges. What lies ahead, however, is a serious effort to restore the locomotive’s tender. The tender is a car that sits behind the locomotive and carries the coal and water necessary to produce steam in the locomotive’s boiler and power the engine. As the coal and water stored in the tender powered this mighty locomotive along the TH&B tracks, it would be refilled at key points as needed.

The Locomotive 103 tender is a patchwork of welded metal in various states of disrepair. While volunteers continue to work with their welding equipment to keep the tender’s water tank and floor together, their efforts will soon need to be replaced by some heavy steel fabrication work. The Friends of Westfield volunteer organization has set a target of $30,000 to restore the tender to its past glory.

“The Friends are very excited to support the tender restoration and hope to complete it in time for Westfield’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in June 2014.  The restored tender would complete the locomotive restoration and be a permanent reminder of the Friends ongoing support of Westfield,” said Lloyd Bailey, Friends of Westfield fundraising chair and Foundation board member. With such repairs, the locomotive as a whole will be available to people young and old seeking to explore Canada’s rich railway history for years to come.

Locomotive and Tender at Westfield in fall with orange leaves.

Fifty Point goes to the Birds

For years, Fifty Point Conservation Area has been the best kept secret in the world of birding. When pelagic birds (ocean birds or birds that spend most of their time on large open bodies of water) look to nest, many of them find their way to the Western end of Lake Ontario, known as an International Important Birding Area (IIBA). Even though Hamilton is a long way from the Atlantic Ocean, the shoreline area provides a perfect spot for nesting, making Fifty Point “one of the best places in North America to view pelagic birds in a fresh water location” according to Mr. Ron Pittaway, one of Ontario’s most respected birders.

A grant from the Hamilton Industrial Environmental Association (HIEA) will help the Foundation and Conservation Authority to tell visitors about Fifty Point’s significance in the world of birding. “HIEA is thrilled to be able to support such an exciting project that will allow citizens the opportunity to learn about and view these ‘special’ visitors to the Hamilton area,” exclaimed HIEA staffer Karen Logan. HIEA’s grant will fund construction of a viewing platform at Fifty Point and interpretive signage at both Fifty Point and an existing platform at Confederation Park.

Young lady looking out over water at Fifty Point in summer.

Volunteers bringing EcoPark dream to life

When past foundation chair Matt Casey set foot on 21 hectares (52 acres) of newly protected grasslands in the heart of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System, he couldn’t believe his eyes. “Nothing could have prepared me for the view from the York Road property. With Borer’s Falls and the Escarpment at your back, the city skyline to your left and the vast Royal Botanical Gardens landholdings out in front of you, you suddenly get why this all matters so much.” said Casey.

A group of campaign volunteers has been working to protect land between Cootes Paradise and the Niagara Escarpment for years as part of the EcoPark Campaign, which formally launched in August of 2012. The group was buoyed after HCA acquired the first property on York Road this past March, the first of several planned acquisitions, right in the heart of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System which stretches from the Desjardins Canal in Dundas to Brant Street in Burlington.

The group is still about $150,000 short of their $800,000 goal for the property, which has been secured with reserve financing until the end of the calendar year. “We’ll get there” said Casey, “we just need to get a few more people out to see that beautiful vista!”

For more information on the EcoPark or to donate click here or call 905-525-2181.

Volunteer group in sunny meadow

RBC pollinator habitat keeps teaching garden blooming

An insect hotel doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of project that would inspire a corporate volunteer group. Lo and behold, this past June, volunteers from RBC’s Southwestern Ontario regional office in Burlington were more than up to the task when they visited the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

“When the Foundation told us how we could help, we were there,” said Jeff Gillingham, Regional Operating Officer at RBC. “Somebody’s got to find a spot for the pollinators!”

Regional Office employees worked through the rain and mud to construct a pollinator habitat structure, known colloquially as an insect hotel, just west of the Bruce Duncan Wildlife Teaching Garden. The structure provides nooks and crannies for butterflies, bees, flies and other insects to shelter when they’re not out pollinating the nearby flowers.

“None of us had heard of an insect hotel so we were a bit unsure when we started,” said Gillingham “but once we got the ecological significance of the project, we couldn’t wait to get our hands dirty!”

RBC generously capped off their Day of Service with a $1,000 donation to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation’s Outdoor Environmental Education fund, which helps get students out into nature in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

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How much is Hamilton’s green space really worth?

In our fall appeal letter to donors, Foundation Chair Richard MacDonald touts Hamilton’s green space as the cornerstone of high quality of life. We wanted to look at just what exactly that means in dollars and cents. It took a few leaps that wouldn’t stand up to academic review, but what we found should make you smile!

$1.2 billion – Home Equity. We picked the three communities with the highest concentration of conservation lands (Ancaster, Dundas and Flamborough) and looked at the difference in average prices. These three communities outpaced the rest of the Hamilton real estate market by an average of $72,732 per sale in August, 2013. If half of that amount ($36,366) is owing to green space, then the 33,215 homes in the communities hold a total of $1.2 billion in equity thanks to green space.

$23.9 million per year – Health Care Savings. A 2009 article called Nature, Childhood, Health and Life Pathways estimates that regular time spent in nature reduces annual care costs for person by £2,243. In Canadian dollars, that comes out to $3,983. If we multiply that by the 6,000 people that hold passes to HCA conservation areas, we come out to $23.9 million per year in reduced health care costs.

$11.9 million per year – Agriculture. The city’s agricultural industry generates $1.26 billion each year. Of that amount, an estimated 9.5% of production is dependent on pollinator species. This means that $11.9 million in annual economic production would likely be lost if the pollinator habitat that exists in local green spaces were decimated.

This exercise, though hardly comprehensive (we didn’t even begin to look at tourism dollars, flood and erosion prevention, or real estate around Conservation Areas in other parts of the city) should, if nothing else, give you one more reason to smile about what your investments in conservation are helping to accomplish!

Felkers Falls - cascades and pools