Hamilton's Chris Ecklund says city ignoring waterfalls

News Sep 13, 2020 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

The Mountain businessperson Chris Ecklund, who first promoted Hamilton as “The City of Waterfalls,” is throwing cold water on how city officials and councillors have maintained and developed these natural highlights for the public.

“Why is nothing being done?” said Ecklund. “Nothing has been done. Nothing.”

He laments that Hamilton hasn’t properly improved the waterfall areas, such as expanding parking to accommodate the public, which could provide a big boost to the city’s tourism economy. He says parking should be added at Devil’s Punchbowl and Albion Falls.

“Albion Falls is a ‘disaster’ on how it has been handled, and the city hasn’t properly tried to protect the erosion in the area."

He said that 15 years ago he promoted the city’s waterfalls, helping to find at least 100 of them. Ecklund estimated about “97 per cent out of 100” people came from outside Hamilton, including New York and Michigan, to see the waterfalls.

The waterfalls' Facebook page, he claims, is one of the largest in Hamilton.

“After 12 years, the success speaks for itself,” he said.

He said he invested millions of dollars to showcase Hamilton as the City of Waterfalls, and doesn’t regret doing it.

“I’m very sad that this city gets this gift, and nothing happened,” said Ecklund, who backed away from the project to focus on other projects and business. “(The falls) were always there, I just lifted up the veil.”

According to the website www.cityofwaterfalls.ca, Jerry Lawton promoted the name "City of Waterfalls" starting in 1999. He co-authored “Waterfalls: The Niagara Escarpment” with his son Mikal Lawton, a photographer. The conservation authority had a list of waterfalls on its website at the time, compiled by Stephen Head, who was encouraged by former Ward 1 Coun. and authority member Brian McHattie to keep searching and identify any falls in the area.

In 2001, Joe Hollick promoted as many waterfalls as possible through posters he created and sold, titled “Waterfalls of Hamilton Seasons.” Hollick then partnered with Ecklund to promote the waterfalls on the website.

Eventually a waterfalls group, composed of representatives from the authority, the city, Tourism Hamilton, Bruce Trail Conservancy, Hamilton Naturalists' Club and various waterfall enthusiasts, formed to oversee the development of the natural formations.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, who is also on the Hamilton Conservation Authority, applauds Ecklund for his “wonderful promotion” of the waterfalls over the years.

The advertising and social media presence that highlighted the waterfalls created what Jackson calls a “nice problem” for the city and authority. The falls attracted tourists and other visitors to Hamilton and made residents aware of what was in their backyards, he said.

“Thousands of visitors came to the city, dispelling the notion of ‘Steel Town,’” he said.

But, said Jackson, the city wasn’t prepared to handle the carloads of people that arrived in Hamilton.

“The falls were not ready for the deluge of people,” said Jackson. “It was a blessing and a bane.”

For example, over a three-year period, Hamilton’s emergency personnel had to recuse a number of people from Albion Falls, including a few “tragic" fatalities. Jackson was instrumental in getting the city to install signs and fencing around Albion Falls to prevent people from falling into the gorge.

“People didn’t realize the impact of the danger there,” he said.

In 2016, a man in his 50s slipped and fell to his death while on an outing with his family. In February, a 21-year-old man suffered serious injuries after slipping on ice and falling more than 10 metres

After struggling to address the problem, in 2017 Jackson and the city established a two-prong approach to protecting the public, including heightened enforcement and installing fencing.

Ever since, there has been only one rope rescue from the area, said Jackson.

Jackson did get the two current platforms built at Albion Falls about a decade ago to provide the public with a photogenic view of the falls, at a cost of half a million dollars from the Hamilton Future Fund. The city also installed signs and reconstructed Mountain Brow Boulevard near the falls, in addition to wider sidewalks. And the parking lot has been expanded to accommodate additional vehicles.

The veteran councillor, though, acknowledges the conservation authority has taken a “collective pause” on any further improvements at the city’s falls.

“We are pulling back,” he said, until the city and authority can manage the attractions properly.

“We want to make them as safe as possible,” he said.

Hamilton Conservation Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson agreed with Jackson’s description of the organization’s plan for the falls. He said the authority right now wants to plan for the falls’ future before doing anything else.

Ferguson, who has seen Tiffany Falls in Ancaster attract hordes of people, hasn’t had the same difficulty as Jackson or Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark have had with Albion Falls or the Devil’s Punchbowl.

The authority had installed paid parking at the lot entrance to the falls.

The city established a shuttle bus service in 2017 for the public eager to attend the Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls area, as well as charging a parking fee and admission to the area.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Hamilton imposed strict measures, including issuing tickets to prevent the public from gathering at various waterfalls, especially Devil’s Punchbowl and Mount Albion. Recently, councillors approved imposing a $250 fine for parking on the road near Devil’s Punchbowl, following a similar fine that was allowed in Dundas and Greensville in an effort to curtail the public from gathering at the popular locations.

But issuing tickets and establishing parking fees isn’t a proper plan to promote the falls, said Ecklund.

“All we are doing is reacting to problems,” he said. “Why are we not taking action?”

Hamilton businessperson Chris Ecklund says city is 'doing nothing' to improve waterfalls for public

News Sep 13, 2020 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

The Mountain businessperson Chris Ecklund, who first promoted Hamilton as “The City of Waterfalls,” is throwing cold water on how city officials and councillors have maintained and developed these natural highlights for the public.

“Why is nothing being done?” said Ecklund. “Nothing has been done. Nothing.”

He laments that Hamilton hasn’t properly improved the waterfall areas, such as expanding parking to accommodate the public, which could provide a big boost to the city’s tourism economy. He says parking should be added at Devil’s Punchbowl and Albion Falls.

“Albion Falls is a ‘disaster’ on how it has been handled, and the city hasn’t properly tried to protect the erosion in the area."

Related Content

He said that 15 years ago he promoted the city’s waterfalls, helping to find at least 100 of them. Ecklund estimated about “97 per cent out of 100” people came from outside Hamilton, including New York and Michigan, to see the waterfalls.

The waterfalls' Facebook page, he claims, is one of the largest in Hamilton.

“After 12 years, the success speaks for itself,” he said.

He said he invested millions of dollars to showcase Hamilton as the City of Waterfalls, and doesn’t regret doing it.

“I’m very sad that this city gets this gift, and nothing happened,” said Ecklund, who backed away from the project to focus on other projects and business. “(The falls) were always there, I just lifted up the veil.”

According to the website www.cityofwaterfalls.ca, Jerry Lawton promoted the name "City of Waterfalls" starting in 1999. He co-authored “Waterfalls: The Niagara Escarpment” with his son Mikal Lawton, a photographer. The conservation authority had a list of waterfalls on its website at the time, compiled by Stephen Head, who was encouraged by former Ward 1 Coun. and authority member Brian McHattie to keep searching and identify any falls in the area.

In 2001, Joe Hollick promoted as many waterfalls as possible through posters he created and sold, titled “Waterfalls of Hamilton Seasons.” Hollick then partnered with Ecklund to promote the waterfalls on the website.

Eventually a waterfalls group, composed of representatives from the authority, the city, Tourism Hamilton, Bruce Trail Conservancy, Hamilton Naturalists' Club and various waterfall enthusiasts, formed to oversee the development of the natural formations.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, who is also on the Hamilton Conservation Authority, applauds Ecklund for his “wonderful promotion” of the waterfalls over the years.

The advertising and social media presence that highlighted the waterfalls created what Jackson calls a “nice problem” for the city and authority. The falls attracted tourists and other visitors to Hamilton and made residents aware of what was in their backyards, he said.

“Thousands of visitors came to the city, dispelling the notion of ‘Steel Town,’” he said.

But, said Jackson, the city wasn’t prepared to handle the carloads of people that arrived in Hamilton.

“The falls were not ready for the deluge of people,” said Jackson. “It was a blessing and a bane.”

For example, over a three-year period, Hamilton’s emergency personnel had to recuse a number of people from Albion Falls, including a few “tragic" fatalities. Jackson was instrumental in getting the city to install signs and fencing around Albion Falls to prevent people from falling into the gorge.

“People didn’t realize the impact of the danger there,” he said.

In 2016, a man in his 50s slipped and fell to his death while on an outing with his family. In February, a 21-year-old man suffered serious injuries after slipping on ice and falling more than 10 metres

After struggling to address the problem, in 2017 Jackson and the city established a two-prong approach to protecting the public, including heightened enforcement and installing fencing.

Ever since, there has been only one rope rescue from the area, said Jackson.

Jackson did get the two current platforms built at Albion Falls about a decade ago to provide the public with a photogenic view of the falls, at a cost of half a million dollars from the Hamilton Future Fund. The city also installed signs and reconstructed Mountain Brow Boulevard near the falls, in addition to wider sidewalks. And the parking lot has been expanded to accommodate additional vehicles.

The veteran councillor, though, acknowledges the conservation authority has taken a “collective pause” on any further improvements at the city’s falls.

“We are pulling back,” he said, until the city and authority can manage the attractions properly.

“We want to make them as safe as possible,” he said.

Hamilton Conservation Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson agreed with Jackson’s description of the organization’s plan for the falls. He said the authority right now wants to plan for the falls’ future before doing anything else.

Ferguson, who has seen Tiffany Falls in Ancaster attract hordes of people, hasn’t had the same difficulty as Jackson or Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark have had with Albion Falls or the Devil’s Punchbowl.

The authority had installed paid parking at the lot entrance to the falls.

The city established a shuttle bus service in 2017 for the public eager to attend the Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls area, as well as charging a parking fee and admission to the area.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Hamilton imposed strict measures, including issuing tickets to prevent the public from gathering at various waterfalls, especially Devil’s Punchbowl and Mount Albion. Recently, councillors approved imposing a $250 fine for parking on the road near Devil’s Punchbowl, following a similar fine that was allowed in Dundas and Greensville in an effort to curtail the public from gathering at the popular locations.

But issuing tickets and establishing parking fees isn’t a proper plan to promote the falls, said Ecklund.

“All we are doing is reacting to problems,” he said. “Why are we not taking action?”

Hamilton businessperson Chris Ecklund says city is 'doing nothing' to improve waterfalls for public

News Sep 13, 2020 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

The Mountain businessperson Chris Ecklund, who first promoted Hamilton as “The City of Waterfalls,” is throwing cold water on how city officials and councillors have maintained and developed these natural highlights for the public.

“Why is nothing being done?” said Ecklund. “Nothing has been done. Nothing.”

He laments that Hamilton hasn’t properly improved the waterfall areas, such as expanding parking to accommodate the public, which could provide a big boost to the city’s tourism economy. He says parking should be added at Devil’s Punchbowl and Albion Falls.

“Albion Falls is a ‘disaster’ on how it has been handled, and the city hasn’t properly tried to protect the erosion in the area."

Related Content

He said that 15 years ago he promoted the city’s waterfalls, helping to find at least 100 of them. Ecklund estimated about “97 per cent out of 100” people came from outside Hamilton, including New York and Michigan, to see the waterfalls.

The waterfalls' Facebook page, he claims, is one of the largest in Hamilton.

“After 12 years, the success speaks for itself,” he said.

He said he invested millions of dollars to showcase Hamilton as the City of Waterfalls, and doesn’t regret doing it.

“I’m very sad that this city gets this gift, and nothing happened,” said Ecklund, who backed away from the project to focus on other projects and business. “(The falls) were always there, I just lifted up the veil.”

According to the website www.cityofwaterfalls.ca, Jerry Lawton promoted the name "City of Waterfalls" starting in 1999. He co-authored “Waterfalls: The Niagara Escarpment” with his son Mikal Lawton, a photographer. The conservation authority had a list of waterfalls on its website at the time, compiled by Stephen Head, who was encouraged by former Ward 1 Coun. and authority member Brian McHattie to keep searching and identify any falls in the area.

In 2001, Joe Hollick promoted as many waterfalls as possible through posters he created and sold, titled “Waterfalls of Hamilton Seasons.” Hollick then partnered with Ecklund to promote the waterfalls on the website.

Eventually a waterfalls group, composed of representatives from the authority, the city, Tourism Hamilton, Bruce Trail Conservancy, Hamilton Naturalists' Club and various waterfall enthusiasts, formed to oversee the development of the natural formations.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, who is also on the Hamilton Conservation Authority, applauds Ecklund for his “wonderful promotion” of the waterfalls over the years.

The advertising and social media presence that highlighted the waterfalls created what Jackson calls a “nice problem” for the city and authority. The falls attracted tourists and other visitors to Hamilton and made residents aware of what was in their backyards, he said.

“Thousands of visitors came to the city, dispelling the notion of ‘Steel Town,’” he said.

But, said Jackson, the city wasn’t prepared to handle the carloads of people that arrived in Hamilton.

“The falls were not ready for the deluge of people,” said Jackson. “It was a blessing and a bane.”

For example, over a three-year period, Hamilton’s emergency personnel had to recuse a number of people from Albion Falls, including a few “tragic" fatalities. Jackson was instrumental in getting the city to install signs and fencing around Albion Falls to prevent people from falling into the gorge.

“People didn’t realize the impact of the danger there,” he said.

In 2016, a man in his 50s slipped and fell to his death while on an outing with his family. In February, a 21-year-old man suffered serious injuries after slipping on ice and falling more than 10 metres

After struggling to address the problem, in 2017 Jackson and the city established a two-prong approach to protecting the public, including heightened enforcement and installing fencing.

Ever since, there has been only one rope rescue from the area, said Jackson.

Jackson did get the two current platforms built at Albion Falls about a decade ago to provide the public with a photogenic view of the falls, at a cost of half a million dollars from the Hamilton Future Fund. The city also installed signs and reconstructed Mountain Brow Boulevard near the falls, in addition to wider sidewalks. And the parking lot has been expanded to accommodate additional vehicles.

The veteran councillor, though, acknowledges the conservation authority has taken a “collective pause” on any further improvements at the city’s falls.

“We are pulling back,” he said, until the city and authority can manage the attractions properly.

“We want to make them as safe as possible,” he said.

Hamilton Conservation Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson agreed with Jackson’s description of the organization’s plan for the falls. He said the authority right now wants to plan for the falls’ future before doing anything else.

Ferguson, who has seen Tiffany Falls in Ancaster attract hordes of people, hasn’t had the same difficulty as Jackson or Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark have had with Albion Falls or the Devil’s Punchbowl.

The authority had installed paid parking at the lot entrance to the falls.

The city established a shuttle bus service in 2017 for the public eager to attend the Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls area, as well as charging a parking fee and admission to the area.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Hamilton imposed strict measures, including issuing tickets to prevent the public from gathering at various waterfalls, especially Devil’s Punchbowl and Mount Albion. Recently, councillors approved imposing a $250 fine for parking on the road near Devil’s Punchbowl, following a similar fine that was allowed in Dundas and Greensville in an effort to curtail the public from gathering at the popular locations.

But issuing tickets and establishing parking fees isn’t a proper plan to promote the falls, said Ecklund.

“All we are doing is reacting to problems,” he said. “Why are we not taking action?”