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Showing posts from November, 2012

Paradise Found: Mac Creates an Eco Buffer Zone

McMaster student's weekly newspaper the Silhouette published this article on Lot M today:

Paradise found: Mac creates an eco buffer zone. (click on link to read article)

One part of the otherwise good article stands to be corrected. I'm not sure if I misspoke or if the writer got it wrong, but whatever the case, let me amend this line (as it appeared in the SIL)
“You’re kind of left in this one-way vacuum where you don’t get anything back. It goes into this black hole of administration,” he said of his early attempts to get the attention of the President’s Advisory Committee. “I could see that being a barrier, for citizens and other interested people around the campus to get involved.” The quote is correct, but I was referring to the University Planning Committee (UPC), not to the President's Advisory Committee (PAC) without whose help this battle would still be waging. The UPC does not acknowledge receipt of correspondence, nor reply to follow-up e-mail requests to see if …

Meanwhile on the Main Campus C1968

While McMaster expanded onto former Royal Botanical Gardens' property in the late 1960s, much of the attention and opposition to the expansion was focused on the main campus property, and less concern was given to the flood plain in west campus as Coldspring Valley was filled-in and paved. 

You can almost understand why the focus was on the main campus, given this was the location of  RBG's Sunken Gardens:


As Margaret Houghton's book "Vanished Hamilton" tells it,  "In 1963, the Royal Botanical Gardens gave the university 130 acres for expansion but the university stressed that they were not eyeing the Sunken Garden property.  “I know of no future plans to remove the Sunken Garden. The university intends to maintain the natural beauty of all the land,” stated a university spokesman.  A short time later, McMaster announced plans for a health sciences centre on the grounds of the university and the province agreed to grant them $65 million for the project.  Pro…

Call Joni!

Unpaving paradise McMaster giving up 300 parking spaces for buffer zone near Ancaster Creek The Hamilton Spectator, November 27, 2012 (online version)
A McMaster University parking lot will scale back more than 300 spaces to create a 30-metre buffer between the asphalt and a local creek.

Parking lot M is located off Cootes Drive next to Ancaster Creek and at present, it can accommodate more than 1,300 vehicles.

The move comes after a campus environmental group called Restore Cootes urged university officials to create a naturalized buffer at the lot, because a campus master plan calls for such buffers and the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority requires a 30-metre buffer when new parking lots are constructed.

Gord Arbeau, McMaster’s director of public and community relations, says 200 spaces in the same area — previously out of use because of a construction project — will be put back in circulation, lessening the impact of the move. He said more than 1,400 staff and students have …

Creek Buffering Success!

November 26, 2012 MEDIA RELEASE RESTORE COOTES
SCALED BACK PARKING MAKES ROOM FOR EXPANDED CREEK BUFFER AT McMASTER
A grassroots campaign to enhance the natural habitat and protect the health of Ancaster Creek at McMaster University's west campus parking lot “M” has resulted in the University agreeing to remove parking to allow for the minimum standard of a 30 metre naturalized buffer zone between parking lots and this coldwater creek.

While scaling back parking means 318 less parking spaces according to measurements taken by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, a surplus of available parking at peak demand of over 1,000 spaces means no drivers will lose the ability to park on campus.

The news comes from a presentation given by university administration to the President's Advisory Committee on Cootes Paradise on Friday, November 9/12, at McMaster University.

The 30m campaign began with a letter from Restore Cootes to the University Planning Committee in March 2011 requesting the fulfi…

One step ahead of the Ash holes

The RBG is 'attempting to round out our number of planted trees and shrubs to around 750...so....[w]hen the ash trees fall, you’ll be thankful there was something to replace them!"

A case for an argument based on evidence

When McMaster attempts to justify adding to the parking supply in west campus (which would nullify an attempt by professors to use the space for wetland recovery research on the former floodplain) they have been saying that any new buildings on the main campus are going to be built over existing parking lots. Losing these central campus parking spaces means they would have to transfer the parking to west campus lots.

Well...

If we look at the possible building sites on the main campus as identified in the Campus Capacity Study (April 2011), we see that half the potential sites on the main campus are NOT parking lots, but under-utilized "temporary" buildings (which look more like airport hangars than university buildings) - the report also suggests that the "incremental" nature of the future building space needs are not pressing due to the availability of these potential sites. The report goes further to suggest "McMaster may need to consider further off-campus d…
Coldspring Valley intact (wooded area from top left of image to where it meets Cootes Drive toward the right side top of image) in 1957, west of Cootes Drive/McMaster University.

From 1958-1963 Coldspring Valley was a nature sanctuary operated by the Royal Botanical Gardens. McMaster purchased the property and filled in the ponds and floodplain of Ancaster Creek, moved the creek west in a man-made channel and built a parking lot adjacent to Cootes Paradise.

With over 1,000 empty parking spaces available for the main campus at the busiest moment of the week, there is room to restore the lost wetland.

Binkley Neighbours

Nothing like living history as Ken and Glen, who are neighbours on Binkley Crescent above McMaster's Lot M parking, took Restore Cootes on a very informative hike through the property between their homes and the parking lot on this beautiful autumn morning.

Do we know where Binkley's Pond was? Now we do. It most definitely was fed by the springs still bringing water to the surface on the southern hills sloping toward the parking lots. The pond was partially man-made by using some earthwork to hold the spring water from the streams forming to the south of the wetland/now parking. Later, when the Royal Botanical Gardens owned the land, the pond was diminished in size as the spring fed streams were allowed to return to a more natural flow, snaking northward into Coldspring/Ancaster creek, but as Glen recalls, there was still enough of a pond to skate on in the winter, even with the changes.
We also learned a lot about the Binkley pioneer family's many farm holdings, which sh…

The Kids are Alright

With a Transportation Demand Management policy there is much room for improvement to reduce parking demand at McMaster University. 
Modal split for McMaster faculty and staff is as follows:

18% choose to walk or cycle
65% drive a personal automobile
13% ride the HSR


Modal split for students is as follows:

37% choose to walk or cycle
24% drive a personal automobile
39% ride the HSR Source: Office of Sustainability McMaster October 2011 http://www.mcmaster.ca/sustainability/at_initiatives.html
Demographic shifts are pointing to a weakening demand for cars for young people (1), with more young adults choosing public transit over private automobile use. As faculty and staff retire, will their replacements be as eager for parking as previous generations?


(1) “Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People Are Driving Less and What It Means for Transportation Policy”, Davis, Benjamin and Tony Dutzik, Frontier Group, Phineas Baxandall, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, April 2012


Beyond Parking