Response mixed to Spencer Gorge reservation plan

News Sep 11, 2020 by Richard Leitner Dundas Star News

Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is finally set to reopen to the public on Sept. 19, with a pilot reservation system that already has some of the tourist hot spot’s neighbours fearing a resurgence of the traffic chaos experienced last October.

Whether arriving on foot or by car, all visitors must now book an advance $10 online reservation for a two-hour stay, with those parking at designated lots at Greensville Optimist Park and Tew Falls paying $10 per vehicle and $5 per passenger.

Entry on foot will be $5, and the registration fee will apply to those with season passes.

Running seven days a week until mid-November, the reservation system replaces the shuttle buses that ferried visitors from Christie Lake Conservation Area on weekends and holidays for the past two years during the peak tourist season.

Hamilton Conservation Authority directors agreed to test the system in June, but road construction in the area delayed an initial Sept. 1 startup.

Spencer Gorge is the last local conservation area to reopen after being closed in late March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gord Costie, the authority’s director of conservation services, said visitors will have to choose either Webster’s Falls or Tew Falls and the Dundas Peak when registering for two-hour blocks, with staggered arrival times starting at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are 20 parking spots for Webster’s visitors at Optimist Park and 50 at the Tew Falls lot, with some additional spaces for staff, security and emergency vehicles, he said.

Costie said a 50-car parking lot at Webster’s Falls will remain closed to lessen the traffic impacts on residents along Short and Fallsview roads.

The pilot system hopes to avoid last fall’s traffic inundation that prompted the city to close Harvest Road on the final weekend of October, and he said staff will “analyze all the different particulars” of the results once it ends on Nov. 15.

“We’re trying to keep that minimalist approach in radically reducing the number of visitors to the area from what we experienced last October,” Costie said.

“No one wants to go back to that type of congestion, long delays and general disruptions that was really fuelled on the heels last year of extreme social media that was combined with spectacular fall weather.”

Greensville resident Mark Osborne, a member of Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls, said more than 1,000 people have signed a petition against the plan.

He said his group supports a reservation system, but believes it should run from Christie Lake via shuttle buses – an approach the authority rejected as unworkable amid the need for social distancing and constant cleaning of vehicles due to COVID-19.

“For the HCA to now say that we couldn’t use the buses because of cleaning issues and stuff, well, kids are on school buses this week, so we don’t see that as a valid argument at all,” he said.

Osborne said his group is also concerned the authority took too long to formally announce the reservation system and wanted its startup delayed until next year to allow more advance marketing.

He said he’s personally witnessed people sneak into Spencer Gorge while it’s been closed, even after he’s warned them they could be charged with trespassing.

“We’ve got another situation here where the potential again is for chaos. Especially during COVID, people want to get out; they’re getting stir-crazy. Once they hear these are opened, they’re going to start to flock here, reservations or not,” Osborne said.

“We hope it’s going to go well, but you never know. We don’t think it will.”

Dundas-area Coun. Arlene VanderBeek, who represents the area, said she fully understands residents’ frustration, but supports the pilot as “a step in the right direction” to manage the number of visitors given the authority’s intent to reopen the gorge.

The city has done what it can outside the park, she said, including more bylaw enforcement, cracking down on speeding on access roads, towaway zones and $250 fines for illegal parking.

VanderBeek said people without reservations will inevitably show up, only to be turned away, but she hopes word of mouth will spread quickly.

Similar reservation systems are used elsewhere – including Halton conservation areas and provincial parks – so the authority isn’t “inventing the wheel,” even if tweaks will likely be necessary following the pilot, she said.

“There’s no doubt the volume of visitors has to be managed environmentally, community-wise and for the visitors’ quality of an experience,” VanderBeek said.

“It’s pretty hard to have a nice experience when there’s a hundred people sitting all over the (Dundas) Peak and you can’t get close to even take a proper picture without somebody’s head in your shot.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Hamilton Conservation Authority announced the launch of a new reservation system for Spencer Gorge, and we wanted to gauge reaction to the plan.

Response mixed to Spencer Gorge reservation plan

Greensville citizens group fears return of last fall’s traffic ‘chaos’

News Sep 11, 2020 by Richard Leitner Dundas Star News

Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is finally set to reopen to the public on Sept. 19, with a pilot reservation system that already has some of the tourist hot spot’s neighbours fearing a resurgence of the traffic chaos experienced last October.

Whether arriving on foot or by car, all visitors must now book an advance $10 online reservation for a two-hour stay, with those parking at designated lots at Greensville Optimist Park and Tew Falls paying $10 per vehicle and $5 per passenger.

Entry on foot will be $5, and the registration fee will apply to those with season passes.

Running seven days a week until mid-November, the reservation system replaces the shuttle buses that ferried visitors from Christie Lake Conservation Area on weekends and holidays for the past two years during the peak tourist season.

Related Content

Hamilton Conservation Authority directors agreed to test the system in June, but road construction in the area delayed an initial Sept. 1 startup.

Spencer Gorge is the last local conservation area to reopen after being closed in late March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gord Costie, the authority’s director of conservation services, said visitors will have to choose either Webster’s Falls or Tew Falls and the Dundas Peak when registering for two-hour blocks, with staggered arrival times starting at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are 20 parking spots for Webster’s visitors at Optimist Park and 50 at the Tew Falls lot, with some additional spaces for staff, security and emergency vehicles, he said.

Costie said a 50-car parking lot at Webster’s Falls will remain closed to lessen the traffic impacts on residents along Short and Fallsview roads.

The pilot system hopes to avoid last fall’s traffic inundation that prompted the city to close Harvest Road on the final weekend of October, and he said staff will “analyze all the different particulars” of the results once it ends on Nov. 15.

“We’re trying to keep that minimalist approach in radically reducing the number of visitors to the area from what we experienced last October,” Costie said.

“No one wants to go back to that type of congestion, long delays and general disruptions that was really fuelled on the heels last year of extreme social media that was combined with spectacular fall weather.”

Greensville resident Mark Osborne, a member of Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls, said more than 1,000 people have signed a petition against the plan.

He said his group supports a reservation system, but believes it should run from Christie Lake via shuttle buses – an approach the authority rejected as unworkable amid the need for social distancing and constant cleaning of vehicles due to COVID-19.

“For the HCA to now say that we couldn’t use the buses because of cleaning issues and stuff, well, kids are on school buses this week, so we don’t see that as a valid argument at all,” he said.

Osborne said his group is also concerned the authority took too long to formally announce the reservation system and wanted its startup delayed until next year to allow more advance marketing.

He said he’s personally witnessed people sneak into Spencer Gorge while it’s been closed, even after he’s warned them they could be charged with trespassing.

“We’ve got another situation here where the potential again is for chaos. Especially during COVID, people want to get out; they’re getting stir-crazy. Once they hear these are opened, they’re going to start to flock here, reservations or not,” Osborne said.

“We hope it’s going to go well, but you never know. We don’t think it will.”

Dundas-area Coun. Arlene VanderBeek, who represents the area, said she fully understands residents’ frustration, but supports the pilot as “a step in the right direction” to manage the number of visitors given the authority’s intent to reopen the gorge.

The city has done what it can outside the park, she said, including more bylaw enforcement, cracking down on speeding on access roads, towaway zones and $250 fines for illegal parking.

VanderBeek said people without reservations will inevitably show up, only to be turned away, but she hopes word of mouth will spread quickly.

Similar reservation systems are used elsewhere – including Halton conservation areas and provincial parks – so the authority isn’t “inventing the wheel,” even if tweaks will likely be necessary following the pilot, she said.

“There’s no doubt the volume of visitors has to be managed environmentally, community-wise and for the visitors’ quality of an experience,” VanderBeek said.

“It’s pretty hard to have a nice experience when there’s a hundred people sitting all over the (Dundas) Peak and you can’t get close to even take a proper picture without somebody’s head in your shot.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Hamilton Conservation Authority announced the launch of a new reservation system for Spencer Gorge, and we wanted to gauge reaction to the plan.

Response mixed to Spencer Gorge reservation plan

Greensville citizens group fears return of last fall’s traffic ‘chaos’

News Sep 11, 2020 by Richard Leitner Dundas Star News

Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is finally set to reopen to the public on Sept. 19, with a pilot reservation system that already has some of the tourist hot spot’s neighbours fearing a resurgence of the traffic chaos experienced last October.

Whether arriving on foot or by car, all visitors must now book an advance $10 online reservation for a two-hour stay, with those parking at designated lots at Greensville Optimist Park and Tew Falls paying $10 per vehicle and $5 per passenger.

Entry on foot will be $5, and the registration fee will apply to those with season passes.

Running seven days a week until mid-November, the reservation system replaces the shuttle buses that ferried visitors from Christie Lake Conservation Area on weekends and holidays for the past two years during the peak tourist season.

Related Content

Hamilton Conservation Authority directors agreed to test the system in June, but road construction in the area delayed an initial Sept. 1 startup.

Spencer Gorge is the last local conservation area to reopen after being closed in late March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gord Costie, the authority’s director of conservation services, said visitors will have to choose either Webster’s Falls or Tew Falls and the Dundas Peak when registering for two-hour blocks, with staggered arrival times starting at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are 20 parking spots for Webster’s visitors at Optimist Park and 50 at the Tew Falls lot, with some additional spaces for staff, security and emergency vehicles, he said.

Costie said a 50-car parking lot at Webster’s Falls will remain closed to lessen the traffic impacts on residents along Short and Fallsview roads.

The pilot system hopes to avoid last fall’s traffic inundation that prompted the city to close Harvest Road on the final weekend of October, and he said staff will “analyze all the different particulars” of the results once it ends on Nov. 15.

“We’re trying to keep that minimalist approach in radically reducing the number of visitors to the area from what we experienced last October,” Costie said.

“No one wants to go back to that type of congestion, long delays and general disruptions that was really fuelled on the heels last year of extreme social media that was combined with spectacular fall weather.”

Greensville resident Mark Osborne, a member of Protect and Preserve Webster’s and Tew’s Falls, said more than 1,000 people have signed a petition against the plan.

He said his group supports a reservation system, but believes it should run from Christie Lake via shuttle buses – an approach the authority rejected as unworkable amid the need for social distancing and constant cleaning of vehicles due to COVID-19.

“For the HCA to now say that we couldn’t use the buses because of cleaning issues and stuff, well, kids are on school buses this week, so we don’t see that as a valid argument at all,” he said.

Osborne said his group is also concerned the authority took too long to formally announce the reservation system and wanted its startup delayed until next year to allow more advance marketing.

He said he’s personally witnessed people sneak into Spencer Gorge while it’s been closed, even after he’s warned them they could be charged with trespassing.

“We’ve got another situation here where the potential again is for chaos. Especially during COVID, people want to get out; they’re getting stir-crazy. Once they hear these are opened, they’re going to start to flock here, reservations or not,” Osborne said.

“We hope it’s going to go well, but you never know. We don’t think it will.”

Dundas-area Coun. Arlene VanderBeek, who represents the area, said she fully understands residents’ frustration, but supports the pilot as “a step in the right direction” to manage the number of visitors given the authority’s intent to reopen the gorge.

The city has done what it can outside the park, she said, including more bylaw enforcement, cracking down on speeding on access roads, towaway zones and $250 fines for illegal parking.

VanderBeek said people without reservations will inevitably show up, only to be turned away, but she hopes word of mouth will spread quickly.

Similar reservation systems are used elsewhere – including Halton conservation areas and provincial parks – so the authority isn’t “inventing the wheel,” even if tweaks will likely be necessary following the pilot, she said.

“There’s no doubt the volume of visitors has to be managed environmentally, community-wise and for the visitors’ quality of an experience,” VanderBeek said.

“It’s pretty hard to have a nice experience when there’s a hundred people sitting all over the (Dundas) Peak and you can’t get close to even take a proper picture without somebody’s head in your shot.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Hamilton Conservation Authority announced the launch of a new reservation system for Spencer Gorge, and we wanted to gauge reaction to the plan.