Spencer Gorge to test visitor reservation system

News Jun 05, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

People wishing to visit the Spencer Gorge once coronavirus restrictions are lifted will need to reserve a spot in advance, but be able to park there rather than take a shuttle bus from Christie Lake Conservation Area.

Hamilton Conservation Authority directors have unanimously backed a staff plan to test a reservation system beginning Sept. 1 if the tourist hot spot get a provincial OK to reopen — a plan opposed by a Greensville citizen’s group.

Chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said similar systems are successful elsewhere, including at some Halton conservation areas, and the new approach hopes to resolve ongoing issues in Greensville with overcrowding, traffic jams and illegal parking.

The reservation system will operate seven days a week until Nov. 15, replacing the shuttle buses that have run from Christie Lake on weekends and holidays for the past two years.

Burnside said unless public health rules are more restrictive, vehicular entry will be limited to the 50 spots at each of the Webster and Tew falls gravel parking lots, allowing visitors to drive there and bring dogs not allowed on shuttle buses.

“Consistently, we’ve heard from the community that we have to do more to control the numbers, to stop the walk-ins and to bring visitors in, in a more controlled way,” she said.

“I think COVID has accelerated this, as we have concerns with safety and public confidence, and how we get people on and off the shuttle for multiple stops.”

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, the authority’s chair, said reservations will see “a radical reduction” in visitors to Spencer Gorge but may be a way to address overcrowding elsewhere if successful, including at Tiffany and Sherman falls.

While the plan is still being finalized, staff suggested reservations may be for two-hour time slots.

“I think it’s the best thing that we can do right now based on the congestion around the waterfalls and the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to manage both of those,” Ferguson said, estimating the 100 parking spots will bring about 400 people at any one time.

“It’s too bad we can’t use the shuttle, but we wouldn’t be able to keep social distancing on the bus, we’d have to sanitize the bus after every trip, and that’s just not practical. Plus, a lot of people simply wouldn’t get on it.”

But Greensville resident Mark Osborne, a member of Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls, said his group continues to favour a shuttle service, cap on visitors and no walk-in policy to prevent overcrowding on weekends and holidays.

He said area residents support a reservation system for the shuttle service and want Spencer Gorge to stay closed until it and the other measures are in pace.

“The reason for the shuttle was to create a single point of entry to the waterfalls to reduce the amount of traffic coming into Greensville,” Osborne said.

“Their ‘driveway to driveway’ solution brings back all the vehicles into our area. There are serious concerns about their plan, and just one of them is that the residents will undergo more testing and congestion yet again.”

This story has been updated from a previous version to include reaction from citizen's group Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls.

Spencer Gorge to test visitor reservation system

Greensville citizen’s group objects to plan to scrap shuttle buses

News Jun 05, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

People wishing to visit the Spencer Gorge once coronavirus restrictions are lifted will need to reserve a spot in advance, but be able to park there rather than take a shuttle bus from Christie Lake Conservation Area.

Hamilton Conservation Authority directors have unanimously backed a staff plan to test a reservation system beginning Sept. 1 if the tourist hot spot get a provincial OK to reopen — a plan opposed by a Greensville citizen’s group.

Chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said similar systems are successful elsewhere, including at some Halton conservation areas, and the new approach hopes to resolve ongoing issues in Greensville with overcrowding, traffic jams and illegal parking.

The reservation system will operate seven days a week until Nov. 15, replacing the shuttle buses that have run from Christie Lake on weekends and holidays for the past two years.

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Burnside said unless public health rules are more restrictive, vehicular entry will be limited to the 50 spots at each of the Webster and Tew falls gravel parking lots, allowing visitors to drive there and bring dogs not allowed on shuttle buses.

“Consistently, we’ve heard from the community that we have to do more to control the numbers, to stop the walk-ins and to bring visitors in, in a more controlled way,” she said.

“I think COVID has accelerated this, as we have concerns with safety and public confidence, and how we get people on and off the shuttle for multiple stops.”

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, the authority’s chair, said reservations will see “a radical reduction” in visitors to Spencer Gorge but may be a way to address overcrowding elsewhere if successful, including at Tiffany and Sherman falls.

While the plan is still being finalized, staff suggested reservations may be for two-hour time slots.

“I think it’s the best thing that we can do right now based on the congestion around the waterfalls and the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to manage both of those,” Ferguson said, estimating the 100 parking spots will bring about 400 people at any one time.

“It’s too bad we can’t use the shuttle, but we wouldn’t be able to keep social distancing on the bus, we’d have to sanitize the bus after every trip, and that’s just not practical. Plus, a lot of people simply wouldn’t get on it.”

But Greensville resident Mark Osborne, a member of Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls, said his group continues to favour a shuttle service, cap on visitors and no walk-in policy to prevent overcrowding on weekends and holidays.

He said area residents support a reservation system for the shuttle service and want Spencer Gorge to stay closed until it and the other measures are in pace.

“The reason for the shuttle was to create a single point of entry to the waterfalls to reduce the amount of traffic coming into Greensville,” Osborne said.

“Their ‘driveway to driveway’ solution brings back all the vehicles into our area. There are serious concerns about their plan, and just one of them is that the residents will undergo more testing and congestion yet again.”

This story has been updated from a previous version to include reaction from citizen's group Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls.

Spencer Gorge to test visitor reservation system

Greensville citizen’s group objects to plan to scrap shuttle buses

News Jun 05, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

People wishing to visit the Spencer Gorge once coronavirus restrictions are lifted will need to reserve a spot in advance, but be able to park there rather than take a shuttle bus from Christie Lake Conservation Area.

Hamilton Conservation Authority directors have unanimously backed a staff plan to test a reservation system beginning Sept. 1 if the tourist hot spot get a provincial OK to reopen — a plan opposed by a Greensville citizen’s group.

Chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said similar systems are successful elsewhere, including at some Halton conservation areas, and the new approach hopes to resolve ongoing issues in Greensville with overcrowding, traffic jams and illegal parking.

The reservation system will operate seven days a week until Nov. 15, replacing the shuttle buses that have run from Christie Lake on weekends and holidays for the past two years.

Related Content

Burnside said unless public health rules are more restrictive, vehicular entry will be limited to the 50 spots at each of the Webster and Tew falls gravel parking lots, allowing visitors to drive there and bring dogs not allowed on shuttle buses.

“Consistently, we’ve heard from the community that we have to do more to control the numbers, to stop the walk-ins and to bring visitors in, in a more controlled way,” she said.

“I think COVID has accelerated this, as we have concerns with safety and public confidence, and how we get people on and off the shuttle for multiple stops.”

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, the authority’s chair, said reservations will see “a radical reduction” in visitors to Spencer Gorge but may be a way to address overcrowding elsewhere if successful, including at Tiffany and Sherman falls.

While the plan is still being finalized, staff suggested reservations may be for two-hour time slots.

“I think it’s the best thing that we can do right now based on the congestion around the waterfalls and the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to manage both of those,” Ferguson said, estimating the 100 parking spots will bring about 400 people at any one time.

“It’s too bad we can’t use the shuttle, but we wouldn’t be able to keep social distancing on the bus, we’d have to sanitize the bus after every trip, and that’s just not practical. Plus, a lot of people simply wouldn’t get on it.”

But Greensville resident Mark Osborne, a member of Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls, said his group continues to favour a shuttle service, cap on visitors and no walk-in policy to prevent overcrowding on weekends and holidays.

He said area residents support a reservation system for the shuttle service and want Spencer Gorge to stay closed until it and the other measures are in pace.

“The reason for the shuttle was to create a single point of entry to the waterfalls to reduce the amount of traffic coming into Greensville,” Osborne said.

“Their ‘driveway to driveway’ solution brings back all the vehicles into our area. There are serious concerns about their plan, and just one of them is that the residents will undergo more testing and congestion yet again.”

This story has been updated from a previous version to include reaction from citizen's group Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls.