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Mental Shifting Landscape

When we think of parking at McMaster, we see parking as something we will always need. With over 1,000 spaces available during peak demand, some of us have questioned - first the "need" and then the rationale for maintaining so many excess spaces.

Little in the way of rationale has been offered from McMaster, except "demand for vehicular transportation continues and the need for parking remains."





















The photo on the left shows the Hamilton - Brantford Radial Electric railway climbing the escarpment, and the photo on the right shows the same scene today, sans railway, now known as the Chedoke Rail Trail.

I'm guessing that in 1908 they thought this railway would be there forever. In 1931 the last of the hourly trains made the trek, and the railway was abandoned. Decades later , in 1995-96, Hamilton developed the former rail line into a multi-use trail that is a busy corridor for non-motorized traffic: running clubs, joggers, cyclists, and Bruce Trail hikers, to name a few.

Demographic shifts in transportation choices continue to alter the future of land use in North America. Hamilton is still actively pursuing a Light Rail line that would connect McMaster across the lower city as far as Eastgate Square. Students, staff and faculty living near the LRT line would have yet another option to driving alone to campus.

Taking up valuable space in the west campus parking lots that we hope to restore to wetlands is going to become an issue that will be harder to defend by merely invoking empty phrases upholding the status quo.

Of course the transformation from parking lot to wetland is far more complex and involved than creating a trail from a rail bed. But that's part of what makes the restoration exciting, the opportunity to expand our knowledge at the University, and to create hands on teaching and research opportunities for as many faculties as want to take part: Engineering, Biology, Earth Sciences and Geography; Literature, Philosophy, Arts, all can engage with a dynamic process and contribute in unique ways.

Change is coming: are you helping us advance in positive ways?

Sources: 
http://henleyshamilton1.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/hamilton-and-brantford-radial-railway/
http://www.cityofwaterfalls.ca/upper_princess_falls.html

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