Tuesday, November 27, 2007

matchmaking in 2008

Councillor Russ Powers got back to me with an answer from city staff on the mismatched crosswalks/ramps at Hatt and Ogilvie we posted earlier:


Thank you for forwarding this concern to us for review. This intersection will be added to the 2008 Concrete Removal and Replacement list and the ramps will be added in 2008.

This is a small victory for that segment of Dundas that rolls (wheelchairs, scooters) or have need of other mobility devices to get around town. It's unfortunate that when the new sidewalk was installed this fall, they didn't line up the ramp with the existing painted crosswalk. The remedy will come next year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cross purposes

Corner of Hatt and Ogilvie, Monday, November 26, 2007

Note that the painted crosswalk ends at a curb, with no ramp. Two of the crosswalk legs at this key intersection have the same problem, no ramps, but this one, at the south west corner, was just redone and for some reason was not fixed when the sidewalk was finished.

What makes this particularly troubling is the fact that the south west corner is where the new "Retirement Residence" is being built. Presumably some of the retirees (not to mention other local citizens) have mobility aids that require proper ramps at intersections?

How this got missed is beyond me, but I've got a couple e-mails in to the local councillor and am waiting to hear his response.

The previous councillor was made aware of this issue but I guess never passed the info on.
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testing terra firma

Came upon these guys doing drilling for soil samples today on the Spencer Creek Trail. This view is looking east, McMurray Street is just a little past where the drilling is going on. Pre-development work for the coming townhouses.
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Monday, November 19, 2007

confessions of a renegade rider

I use the trails through Dundas Valley Conservation Area almost daily. For years I have cut through to the Rail Trail on my bike using the Spring Creek trail on my way to work; I use the Sawmill Trail to get to Ancaster Wells for spring water. My daughter and I rode to Ancaster through the valley using a combo of Spring Creek, Rail Trail, Main Loop, Headwaters, Hilltop and Spring Trail.

OK, you're perhaps wondering why I'm regaling you with this information: "where's the confession?" you might reasonably enquire.

Well, I wasn't paying for the privilege of using the trails.

Several years ago, when cuts in funding where instituted by the Provincial Conservative Government of the day, the Conservation Area began to charge admission.

So, two things were at play in my head: One, I didn't vote for the Tories (since they were all about cutting public sector in favour of the ideologically driven "market" solutions); and, two, I figured the fee was for drivers, not for people walking or cycling.

So I was using the trails as a renegade trail rider.

That all changed today.

Riding my bike along the Monarch Trail I was met by two guys in a DVCA pick-up truck on the trail.

The driver stopped me to ask if I had paid a $2.00 daily fee.

At first I was annoyed that on a weekday, I was being stopped and asked to pay, after all (I rationalized), I was just cutting through.

But as we debated the merits of the fees, I became convinced that buying a $25/year pass for non-automotive access was, after all, a good thing.

In fact, after I left them, I did a little detour to the Trail Centre in Dundas Valley and purchased the pass right away.

To be honest, I feel better for doing so.

The pass gives me free (non-automotive) access to Christie, Valens, Westfield, Confederation Park, Dundas Valley, and Fifty point for the year.

Drivers can get a pass for $85, and it comes with a bunch of perks that make it very worthwhile.

A list of fees and pass info is available at the DVCA site.

I'll admit that if I hadn't been confronted about the fees, I would have gone on doing it the free-way. But now with the plastic card in my wallet, I feel a bit more ownership over the health of the valley. I consider it an investment in a healthy lifestyle.

[Photo (above) taken from the Sawmill Trail, DVCA, Sunday, November 18, 2007]

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The other day I saw two young people by a bus stop on Governor's Road on a Saturday, hitch-hiking. As I approached them I non-judgmentally commented that hitch-hikers were rare these days. They replied that they were only thumbing because they had just realized there were no buses on Governor's Road on weekends (alas, too true).

They asked me how far away the Dundas Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) was. After some quick mental figuring, I told them it was probably about a 20 minute walk or more to the CA from where we stood.

Then it occured to me that they were only about 5 minutes away from the trails at Warren Park, which are part of the CA trails network. I suggested that rather than walk on the road to get to the CA main entrance, they could get directly to the trails and walk through the forest to the CA main entrance, making ends and means all one.

So, it's true that Governor's Road needs weekend bus service; but it is equally true that once you know how the trails link up, you can get right to it, and save the bus fare (or at least a transfer).


The photo above is from a recent walk along the DVCA's Sawmill Trail, which I use about once a week on my way to pick up some spring water from the artesian well at Ancaster Wells. I use a couple unmarked, unofficial linking trails to get to my destination (I'll post something another time on the importance and the utilitarian beauty of unnofficial trails) .

Without these beautiful trails I would have to walk along the shoulder of a busy road to get there.

I have come to rely on trails as integral to getting places I need to go, as alternatives to spending time near motor vehicle traffic with the accompanying noise, pollution and collision danger.

There's just no comparison.
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pedestrian Trail Map

I got this pre-amalgamation, Town of Dundas map of the Pedestrian Trails from Ian Reid, with handwritten updates on the Spencer Creek trail development. The Spencer Creek trail is still a work in progress with the potential for some improvements in places where there are currently only sidewalk sections.
This map doesn't show the richness of the area's trails, which connect the downtown area to the longer trails like the Bruce Trail, for example. But it is important that the trails within the urban area exist intact and in as natural state as possible, allowing travellers a choice to take a quiet stroll or a brisk walk away from the hustle and bustle of roads.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

trail draft

According to the city councillor Russ Powers

The draft plans indicate a conveyance of lands to the north of the built development to the municipality as a "creek buffer" which will allow for the continuance of the Spencer Creek Trail in that section.

This update is in reference to the previous article about a re-zoning application effecting the Spencer Creek Trail.

Monday, November 5, 2007

trail blazer Ian Reid

A couple years ago I was fortunate to be able to interview Ian Reid, the man who is really responsible for creating the Spencer Creek Trail in Dundas.

Listen to his recounting of the trail's development (a free download from our friends at Radio Free School. Follow this trail!

death on the trail

Walking up the Spencer Creek trail today, a big hawk flew up from the long grass and goldenrod beside the footpath.

He flew across the creek and landed in a nearby tree.

I searched the ground, thinking maybe I would find a hawk feather; I didn't, but I did find the reason the hawk remained nearby: a fresh kill, a rabbit, partially eaten.

I left right away so the hawk could return and finish his meal.


There is a new sign posted near the Hawk's latest meal, on McMurray Street, an official notice from the city of Hamilton regarding the land where the path is located.

832110 Ont. Inc. and City of Hamilton are seeking to change the zoning at the site (36 McMurray Street) from
"single detached residential flood plan holding (R2-FP-H) zoning and the open space (OS) zone to the Low to Medium density multiple dwelling (RM1) zone and open space (OS) zone."

The plan is for 17 townhouses and associated parking.

The reference number is ZAC-07-058, and Edward John is the city staff person, at 905-546-2424 ext. 5803

I'll be looking into this and keeping this file up to date here to see if there are plans to keep the path intact through this section.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

first step

Our family has grown up using the trails in Dundas for nature hikes, but more frequently, for getting places we need to go.

The Spencer Creek Trail is probably the most central to our experience of walking away from traffic, both in terms of it's central location in town, and in our everyday pragmatic use.

The Dundas Valley has many trails, including a rich heritage as a trail hub going back to pre-colonial days.

This site will be a place to explore, and to alert trail users and trail supporters of any threat to existing trails, and news of trail improvements.

If you haven't been on the trails in the area, we will do our best to help you get out there to discover the parallel universe of footpaths.