Deputy Environmental Commissioner praises donor efforts

With a changing climate, growing population and the ever-growing threats posed by invasive species, the importance of protected areas, especially those which host native species, grows every day.

Ellen Schwartzel is surprisingly upbeat for someone speaking about the dire realities of a changing climate. Addressing a room full of Foundation donors at our May 14th event, the
Deputy Environmental Commisioner of Ontario is keen to point out the necessity of projects like the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

“Wildlife corridors are going to be essential moving forward. As the climate warms, species will need to migrate to find suitable habitat. We can’t just send out a memo to all of the creatures in the forest!” she explains with a wry smile.

ECO (Environmental Commissioner of Ontario) is a nonpartisan arm’s-length agency funded by the Province of Ontario to audit the Government’s actions from an environmental perspective. The organization also drives citizen engagement on environmental issues through Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights and a new toolkit designed to arm citizens with the tools they need to demand environmental accountability in their communities.

She points to the progress made in closing coal-fired power plants, massive decreases in smog-days and Greenbelt protection as reasons to be optimistic. Keeping the crowd focused on what can be done to move forward, Schwartzel suggests the simplest of actions: plant a tree.

“Preferably a native one!” she adds, noting the extraordinary prevalence of just four species,  especially the Norway Maple, in Toronto’s urban tree canopy. A diverse canopy of native trees and, of course, protected spaces for them to thrive, will be essential to the sustainable communities of the future which will grapple with a rapidly changing climate.

Schwartzel notes that with over 11,000 acres owned or managed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA), representing approximately 10% of the watershed, we are in a better position than most Ontario communities to adapt to a changing climate.

Plantings at Tew Falls seek to protect sensitive Escarpment habitat

The extraordinary popularity of waterfalls is impressive, but it continues to put an undue strain on some of our area’s rarest and most sensitive habitats.

Lands in the Spencer Gorge feature some of the only stretches of the Niagara Escarpment which face southward, making them an ideal habitat for Species at Risk. The lands are also a popular hiking spot with local thrill-seekers, who continue to venture off-trails and encroach on the escarpment. While these adventures offer extraordinary views, they also harm local plant populations.

In an aim to curb this damage, the Foundation is raising funds for native species plantings in strategic areas on and adjacent to Escarpment slopes. These plantings, along with additional fencing and signage are expected to discourage off-trail use and improve the prospects of the Species at Risk that call the area home.

Long-awaited Canal Park amenities to be installed this fall

After staff changes, talks with neighbours and a number of proposed designs, a shade structure  will finally be installed next to the Desjardins Canal this fall.
While the original design called for a large fabric structure, concern over wildlife conflicts and  ongoing maintenance has led to a more resilient and less obtrusive design option featuring trellises.

The Canal Park project, including these latest improvements, has been funded through  community donations to the EcoPark Campaign, which also helped to acquire 3 key properties  in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

Saltfleet Conservation Area flood control plans taking shape

With the successful conclusion of an Environmental Assessment, plans to construct flood control structures can enter the design stage.

The first structure, to be built along Upper Battlefield Creek, is expected to hold back up to 220,000 cubic metres of water (equivalent to 88 Olympic-sized swimming pools) and will feed a network of man-made wetlands which will provide a massive boost to local biodiversity along with mitigating flood risks downstream.

The long-term vision for the Conservation Area will include a trail network and other passive recreation infrastructure connecting to the Dofasco 2000 Trail. Design work on these amenities,  however, cannot begin until several years of flood-control projects are complete.


Species decline lends new urgency to turtle fence expansion on Cootes Drive

Earlier this spring, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated the midland painted turtle (pictured above) as a species of Special Concern. That means that all of Ontario’s turtle species are now on the list.

Local populations in Cootes Paradise and Spencer Creek have fared better in recent years thanks in part to the efforts of the Dundas Turtle Watch volunteer group and the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG). Following the success of RBG’s efforts to fence their property along the north-east side of Cootes Drive, Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) added a similar fence to HCA property on the south-west side of the road in 2016.

While these fences have been successful in helping to reduce turtle fatalities on Cootes Drive, it has not eliminated them. In order to build on these successes, the Foundation is now raising $15,000 to complete the turtle fencing project and fence the remaining 250 metres of unprotected roadway. This will add to the existing 420 metre section and a previously planned 280 metre extension. This will stretch the fence the full 950 metre distance between the Spencer Creek bridge and a culvert passageway to the west of the fence.

The vast majority of turtles found in the area are either snapping turtles or midland painted turtles. For these threatened species, added protection can’t come soon enough.

Ready to help Hamilton’s turtles? Click here to donate now!

TD grant recycles propane cylinders and keeps conservation areas clean

Anyone who has had the pleasure of cooking on a camping trip will be familiar with the ubiquitous green propane cylinders which fuel camping stoves. While these cylinders are commonplace, their disposal has long been a sustainability nightmare for local campgrounds.

In recent years, Ontario Parks introduced their OrangeDrop program with high-visibility bins where campers can dispose of their cylinders responsibly before they are transported to local recycling facilities.

As a result of a grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and donations to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation, Fifty Point CA, Christie Lake CA and Valens Lake CA now host OrangeDrop bins and plenty of educational signage to ensure that cylinders are recycled.

Before this program was introduced, canisters were often found in trash cans or worse, tossed in an inconspicuous area of brush. Now that the recycling program has launched, staff who once discovered littered canisters on a daily basis are going weeks without finding them.

Westfield Heritage Village plans open for public input

This past Sunday (June 24th) saw dozens of volunteers and community members gather in Westfield’s Ironwood Hall to review an early draft of Westfield Heritage Village’s new Master Plan. The plan will drive capital development in and around the Village for the next ten years.

While this might seem like a dry exercise, it’s important to note that this is the first Master Plan since the Hamilton Conservation Authority acquired a number of natural properties behind the Village. This plan will direct how those lands are developed and integrated with the Village.

The plan will explore passive recreation opportunities, trails and interpretive opportunities in the newly-expanded area which has the opportunity to offer a larger conservation area experience similar to what is offered at other HCA conservation areas.

Anyone who wishes to review the plan and comment is invited to please contact Katherine Smith at 905-525-2181 ext 117 or

Students thrill at Dundas Valley experience

Students run along the trails in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

With the Foundation’s increased commitment to the Outdoor Environmental Education Program and donations to the Education Fund being more important than ever, we thought we’d share a letter sent to our program staff.

Hi Beth, Thank-you so much for having the Hess Street School students. The guides for orienteering and our hike were excellent with the students. I know my kids can be a challenging group and both Sandy and Jamie (I think I have the name correct) were amazing and very professional. One of my students described the woods as “Just like a painting”. I am very grateful they had the opportunity to see the Dundas Valley!
~Lorraine Cooper, Grade 5/6, Hess Street School

Hamilton Conservation Authority is only able to offer this program because of generous people like you. Starting this January, donations to the Foundation now provide 100% of HCA’s contribution to the program. For your help in making this happen, we cannot thank you enough. With your support, we look forward to getting more students just like Ms. Cooper’s Grade 5/6 class learning about the environment outdoors.

Sulphur Springs Trail Race continues legacy of support for Dundas Valley CA trail projects

Four people stand behind a large novelty cheque commemorating a donation.

(left to right) Andrea Sloan, co-Race Director, Tim Nelson, co-Race Director, Ine Wauben, Foundation Chair and Grace Correia, Foundation Executive Director

The Burlington Runners Club will hold their annual Sulphur Springs Trail Race in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area on the weekend of May 26-27. We were lucky enough to host their Race Directors, Tim and Andrea, at our February Board of Directors meeting. Tim and Andrea brought the proceeds from the 2017 event which totaled $4,800.

The decades-old annual run has played a vital role in caring for the 40km Dundas Valley CA Trail Network with event proceeds supporting the Dundas Valley Trails Fund. In recent years these donations have been used to install new bridge crossings, stabilize trail washouts and lay screenings to improve trail resilience.

Building on a long history of connecting children with nature

Generations of students have learned about nature on Hamilton’s beautiful and diverse conservation lands.

From 1970 to 1996, over 300,000 students visited HCA education classes with funding from the provincial government. The program was cut in the late 1990s and re-established with grant funding and donations in spring of 2002. Today it is operated out of the Dundas Valley and hosts an average of 9,000 students per year.

Community Foundation grant ensures less fortunate schools aren’t left behind

With an initial grant of $10,000, the Edith H Turner Foundation Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation helped cover transportation costs for a few Hamilton schools in low-income neighbourhoods. Those schools, which once represented just a small percentage of program attendees, account for over half of this year’s classes so far.

While $5 for a school bus trip may not seem like much to most of our readers, for many Hamilton families, there just isn’t room in the budget. This simple problem meant many of Hamilton’s public schools simply couldn’t afford the cost of a school bus to get to the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Education programs. While schools have their environmental field trip costs covered by the school board’s budget and donations to the Foundation, just getting enough money to book a school bus was a huge barrier.

In order to help solve this problem, the Foundation put a proposal together for the Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation. The Community Foundation was immediately receptive and provided an initial grant of $10,000 for the Foundation to reimburse schools with financial barriers for their transportation costs.

Five years later, the reimbursement program continues to receive funding from the Edith. H. Turner Foundation Fund. To date it has helped to connect over 10,000 students who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend a day in the Dundas Valley. For many of these students, this is their first real taste of the great outdoors.

Teachers clearly see the value in the reimbursement program too. Our 2017 program budget had already been spent by September. Donations are being put to work to bridge the gap and ensure every class who wants to visit the Dundas Valley gets a chance to do so.
The program is now such a success that so far this year, over 50% of kids taking part came from schools participating in the reimbursement program.

Friends of Eramosa Karst continue planting new Conservation lands

Over 70 volunteers helped to plant 150 native trees and shrubs at the end of September.

Volunteers from the Friends of the Eramosa Karst, Alectra Utilities and ArcelorMittal Dofasco donated their time on a chilly Saturday morning. This latest planting, focused along Second Road helped to naturalize the Eramosa Karst Feeder Lands.

The Friends of the Eramosa Karst volunteer group has now raised more than $25,000 for the Foundation’s Eramosa Karst CA Fund and contributed countless volunteer hours in order to protect and promote awareness of the Karst’s unique geographic features.

New East Escarpment property unveiled as Saltfleet Conservation Area

An enthusiastic group of donors and community members attended an October 14th celebration revealing the name.

The core of the Saltfleet Conservation Area, located south of the Dofasco 2000 Trail on the east side of First Road East in Stoney Creek is a 99 hectare parcel of land. Unlike most of HCA’s conservation areas, this area does not yet feature trails, pavilions and recreational amenities.

The area was formed in the early stages of what is a decade-long $10 million project which will see engineered wetlands and stream restoration projects along Battlefield and Upper Stoney Creeks upstream from the Niagara Escarpment.

Your donations are helping kids connect with nature

When government funding for Outdoor Environmental Education ended in the late 1990s, many thought the Dundas Valley Conservation Area had hosted its final classes. Two decades later, the program is stronger and more vital than ever thanks to the generosity of people like you.

To cope with increased demand for time spent in nature, our education program has partnered once again with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to dramatically increase the number of school trips available to Hamilton’s public schools.

These programs are supported by the school board’s budget and donations to the Foundation’s Outdoor Environmental Education Fund. This increased demand means that we are putting more donor dollars to work than ever before. Our fundraising target for the 2018 Outdoor Environmental Education program will rise to $125,000 from its 2010-2017 level of $55,000.

With increased screen time, poor physical activity levels and changing lifestyles, time spent outdoors is more important to healthy child development than ever before.

We are extraordinarily fortunate to have donors who care about this program. Your support is more important and more impactful than ever before.

Community members planting trees on a sunny day

More Trees for Hamilton Please!

More Trees for Hamilton Please!

We submitted our tree planting project to the AVIVA Community Fund for consideration. Now it’s your turn to vote in order to get our project funded! Register for an account and vote for our project before the end of the day on Thursday, October 19th and you’ll help us get trees in the ground. All in the click of a button!

Click here to vote now!

We’ve put together a little FAQ below in case you want to know more:

What is your project?

It’s called More Trees for Hamilton Please! It’s a $30,000 effort to plant approximately 1,500 trees throughout the Hamilton Habour watershed on lands managed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority.

We’ve lost a lot of trees in Hamilton due to disease (emerald ash borer), weather damage and other detrimental impacts. We’ve picked out areas where we can replace the trees we’ve lost with health native trees. We’ve even identified a few plantings which we can accomplish with volunteer groups who are always eager to get involved.

How many trees will you plant with $30,000?

We’re looking to plant 1,500 trees with this funding. That means an average cost of $20 per tree.

Why does it cost so much to plant a tree?

We could plant thousands more seedlings for $30,000 but they wouldn’t have the best chance at survival. Trees in 1 and 2 gallon pots have had the best survival rates on most of our lands. The cost of $20/tree also includes the labour to plant them (when volunteers aren’t feasible), the cost of having them watered afterwards, the cost of having sites prepared for planting, the cost of guards or wraps if the trees need protection from deer or rodents and the cost of equipment and labour to prepare the planting sites ahead of time. Each tree planting site is different and requires a special plan to give the trees the best chance at survival. The $20 figure is an average based on the successful plantings we’ve had.

Where are we going to put these trees?

All over the Hamilton watershed! Right now we really need trees in Valens Lake CA and Christie Lake CA where we’re transitioning pine plantations from the 1970s into diverse, Carolinian forests. We also have a number of sites at Fifty Point CA and Eramosa Karst CA with new sites being identified regularly!

When will these trees be planted?

We’re aiming to use this funding in the Spring and Fall 2018 planting seasons. If we don’t get everything into the ground in 2018, we’ll use it in Spring, 2019 as well!

Who will plant these trees?

Wherever possible we’ll put volunteer groups to work planting these trees. We have a huge group of volunteers eager to help plant trees. At the same time, some of our tree planting sites aren’t good fits for volunteer groups for safety and accessibility reasons. For those sites we’ll use Conservation Authority staff.

How can I help?

Vote today using the link above! If you really want to be a superstar, share this page on your Facebook or Twitter account and encourage your friends and family to get involved too!

When does voting end?

We have until the end of Thursday, October 19th to vote.


Fifty Point Trail Loop and Bridge Unveiled

(L-R as pictured) Ine Wauben – Foundation Chair, Llewellyn Smith – Chairman – Helderleigh Foundation, Santina Moccio – HCA Chair, Tony Valeri – VP Corporate Affairs – ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Bob Bratina – MP Hamilton East – Stoney Creek.

A 3.5km trail and bridge were officially unveiled at Fifty Point Conservation Area on August 10. The project has been made possible by donations to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation from ArcelorMittal Dofasco, the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Fund, and the Helderleigh Foundation. Continue reading

Rothsay support for Outdoor Environmental Education helps program reach new children

(L-R) Grace Correia, Foundation Executive Director, Greg Cooper, Dundas Plant Manager, Rothsay, Anne Tennier, Foundation Past Chair

Lead corporate donors Rothsay have once again stepped up to provide $15,000 to help children learn about the environment outdoors during the 2017-18 school year.

This year’s gift was timely given the growing need to connect children with nature. A grant from the Edith H Turner Foundation Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation has covered transportation costs for high-needs schools in Hamilton which were the biggest barrier keeping several Hamilton schools from taking advantage of Outdoor Environmental Education programming offered in the Dundas Valley CA. Continue reading

Donations help Dundas Valley trails bounce back from spring washouts.

Top: Carissa Bishop, Dundas Valley Superintendent (left) presents a cheque on behalf of event participants to Ine Wauben, Foundation Chair (left) and Scott Peck, HCA Deputy CAO (centre).
Bottom: The Sulphur Springs Trail Race’s 200km run gets underway in the Dundas Valley CA organized by the Burlington Runners Club.

With the continued support of the equestrian and running communities a significant set of repairs has been completed on the 40km Dundas Valley trail system. Sections of the John White and Spring Creek Trails were washed out during an April 20th storm that saw over 70mm of rain overnight. Work to repair the trails was completed in August along with work to replace seven aging and weather-battered trail bridges in the Conservation Area.

Continue reading

Help us name our new conservation area!

Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) has a new conservation area in the upper Stoney Creek mountain area and is asking the local Stoney Creek community to help name the property located on Green Mountain Road East, between 1st and 2nd Roads East.

178 acres in size, the new area has a lot of exciting natural features, including woodlands, agricultural lands, meadows and significant karst features including small caves and sinkholes. Karsts are geological features that are caused by water dissolving rock, found in limestone formations like the Niagara Escarpment.

The area also joins up with the Dofasco 2000 Trail and the Devil’s Punchbowl
Conservation Area.

The most exciting thing for HCA is that besides providing a beautiful new area for people to walk through and enjoy, this conservation area also protects sections of Battlefield Creek. 831 metres of Battlefield Creek run through the property, with smaller creeks branching off it.
Protecting and restoring these creeks and wetlands will slow the flow of water through that area and down the escarpment. Why is that important? If water runs through the creeks and drainage systems too quickly, it can cause flooding in the neighbourhoods below.

So now you know a little bit about this new area, help us think of a name that fits! Think of your neighbourhood and the things that make this new conservation area special and suggest a name.

The winning name will be announced at an event this fall and will featured on on-site signage and the HCA’s website for years to come!

Click here to access our submission package..

Deadline extended for $1,000 Student Award for Environmental Leadership to April 30

Are you a high school student in Hamilton about to start College or University in an environmental field? If you want to make a difference for Hamilton’s environment, you could win $1,000 to help with your education. All you have to do is fill out our application form, send us your resume, a quick little letter telling us how much you love the natural world and anything else that would help us understand why you’re the best candidate!

The award will be presented at the 38th annual Environmentalist of the Year Awards at a dinner at Michelangelo Banquet Centre in June. You can find out more details about the dinner at

Click here to access the printable application form.

Applications are due by midnight on Sunday April 30, 2017. You can submit yours by emailing or mailing it to:

Student Award for Environmental Leadership
c/o Hamilton Conservation Foundation
P.O. Box 81067
838 Mineral Springs Road
Ancaster, ON L9G 4X1

If you have any questions or need any help filling out the application please don’t hesitate to call Toby Tresidder at 905-525-2181 ext. 129 or email