Hamilton Conservation Authority unveils three-stage plan for new upper Stoney Creek park

News Feb 19, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

The Hamilton Conservation Authority is seeking the province’s stamp of approval on plans for a new conservation area by the Devil’s Punch Bowl in upper Stoney Creek to allow it to acquire portions of properties without a severance.

Scott Peck, director of watershed planning and engineering, said formal endorsement by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will help future grant applications and exempt the authority from the Ontario Planning Act’s severance provisions.

The latter will allow the authority to focus on portions of properties in the upper Battlefield and Stoney creek watersheds that it’s interested in, like wetlands and floodplains, he told members of the authority’s conservation advisory board.

“We just take the land that we want on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis and leave behind the lands to the landowner that we’re not interested in, say the lands used for residential or agricultural purposes,” Peck said.

“Land securement is a tricky thing when it comes to public conversations because we don’t want to let anybody really know what specific lands we want.”

A program overview to be submitted to the ministry states that the new conservation area proceed in three stages, starting with a five-year plan to acquire land for the park’s core area using $4.75 million already dedicated to the project.

The second stage will continue land acquisition while restoring wetlands, creeks and woodlands in the area, with the final stage focusing on reducing flood hazards and ensuring creeks don’t run dry during drought conditions.

“Historically, we have done work on this area as far as the floodplain management and floodplain attenuation goes, but those studies were never implemented,” Peck said.

The project is getting $2 million each from the city and Heritage Green Community Trust, the latter which draws on royalties from the Newalta Taro dump, located west of the planned conservation area.

The conservation authority has committed $500,000 of its own money, with another $250,000 coming from its charity, the Hamilton Conservation Foundation.

Chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said the new conservation area’s configuration will depend on which properties are available.

He said it may look like “a string of pearls” in some areas, with clusters of land connected by stream systems, the Dofasco Trail or a combination of the two.

“We can’t draw you a picture of the new conservation area at this time, but when you’re done acquiring the lands you will be able to,” he told the board, which endorsed the project overview to be submitted to the ministry.

“It likely will have some areas of critical mass and some areas of supporting ecological functions, natural heritage functions, things of that nature.”

Firth-Eagland said the authority will pursue grants based on the project’s overall flood-reduction potential below the escarpment, with the “big dream” of stopping a 100-year flood while allowing water to flow at the Devil’s Punch Bowl year round.

“It’s a holistic kind of approach and (there’s) no pattern, no model, for this,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time and will require every aspect of the talent pool the conservation authority and other agencies have to make it really, really successful.”

Hamilton Conservation Authority unveils three-stage plan for new upper Stoney Creek park

News Feb 19, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

The Hamilton Conservation Authority is seeking the province’s stamp of approval on plans for a new conservation area by the Devil’s Punch Bowl in upper Stoney Creek to allow it to acquire portions of properties without a severance.

Scott Peck, director of watershed planning and engineering, said formal endorsement by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will help future grant applications and exempt the authority from the Ontario Planning Act’s severance provisions.

The latter will allow the authority to focus on portions of properties in the upper Battlefield and Stoney creek watersheds that it’s interested in, like wetlands and floodplains, he told members of the authority’s conservation advisory board.

“We just take the land that we want on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis and leave behind the lands to the landowner that we’re not interested in, say the lands used for residential or agricultural purposes,” Peck said.

“Land securement is a tricky thing when it comes to public conversations because we don’t want to let anybody really know what specific lands we want.”

A program overview to be submitted to the ministry states that the new conservation area proceed in three stages, starting with a five-year plan to acquire land for the park’s core area using $4.75 million already dedicated to the project.

The second stage will continue land acquisition while restoring wetlands, creeks and woodlands in the area, with the final stage focusing on reducing flood hazards and ensuring creeks don’t run dry during drought conditions.

“Historically, we have done work on this area as far as the floodplain management and floodplain attenuation goes, but those studies were never implemented,” Peck said.

The project is getting $2 million each from the city and Heritage Green Community Trust, the latter which draws on royalties from the Newalta Taro dump, located west of the planned conservation area.

The conservation authority has committed $500,000 of its own money, with another $250,000 coming from its charity, the Hamilton Conservation Foundation.

Chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said the new conservation area’s configuration will depend on which properties are available.

He said it may look like “a string of pearls” in some areas, with clusters of land connected by stream systems, the Dofasco Trail or a combination of the two.

“We can’t draw you a picture of the new conservation area at this time, but when you’re done acquiring the lands you will be able to,” he told the board, which endorsed the project overview to be submitted to the ministry.

“It likely will have some areas of critical mass and some areas of supporting ecological functions, natural heritage functions, things of that nature.”

Firth-Eagland said the authority will pursue grants based on the project’s overall flood-reduction potential below the escarpment, with the “big dream” of stopping a 100-year flood while allowing water to flow at the Devil’s Punch Bowl year round.

“It’s a holistic kind of approach and (there’s) no pattern, no model, for this,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time and will require every aspect of the talent pool the conservation authority and other agencies have to make it really, really successful.”

Hamilton Conservation Authority unveils three-stage plan for new upper Stoney Creek park

News Feb 19, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

The Hamilton Conservation Authority is seeking the province’s stamp of approval on plans for a new conservation area by the Devil’s Punch Bowl in upper Stoney Creek to allow it to acquire portions of properties without a severance.

Scott Peck, director of watershed planning and engineering, said formal endorsement by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will help future grant applications and exempt the authority from the Ontario Planning Act’s severance provisions.

The latter will allow the authority to focus on portions of properties in the upper Battlefield and Stoney creek watersheds that it’s interested in, like wetlands and floodplains, he told members of the authority’s conservation advisory board.

“We just take the land that we want on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis and leave behind the lands to the landowner that we’re not interested in, say the lands used for residential or agricultural purposes,” Peck said.

“Land securement is a tricky thing when it comes to public conversations because we don’t want to let anybody really know what specific lands we want.”

A program overview to be submitted to the ministry states that the new conservation area proceed in three stages, starting with a five-year plan to acquire land for the park’s core area using $4.75 million already dedicated to the project.

The second stage will continue land acquisition while restoring wetlands, creeks and woodlands in the area, with the final stage focusing on reducing flood hazards and ensuring creeks don’t run dry during drought conditions.

“Historically, we have done work on this area as far as the floodplain management and floodplain attenuation goes, but those studies were never implemented,” Peck said.

The project is getting $2 million each from the city and Heritage Green Community Trust, the latter which draws on royalties from the Newalta Taro dump, located west of the planned conservation area.

The conservation authority has committed $500,000 of its own money, with another $250,000 coming from its charity, the Hamilton Conservation Foundation.

Chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said the new conservation area’s configuration will depend on which properties are available.

He said it may look like “a string of pearls” in some areas, with clusters of land connected by stream systems, the Dofasco Trail or a combination of the two.

“We can’t draw you a picture of the new conservation area at this time, but when you’re done acquiring the lands you will be able to,” he told the board, which endorsed the project overview to be submitted to the ministry.

“It likely will have some areas of critical mass and some areas of supporting ecological functions, natural heritage functions, things of that nature.”

Firth-Eagland said the authority will pursue grants based on the project’s overall flood-reduction potential below the escarpment, with the “big dream” of stopping a 100-year flood while allowing water to flow at the Devil’s Punch Bowl year round.

“It’s a holistic kind of approach and (there’s) no pattern, no model, for this,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time and will require every aspect of the talent pool the conservation authority and other agencies have to make it really, really successful.”