Coronavirus closes all Hamilton conservation areas

News Mar 24, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Confederation Beach Park and all other Hamilton conservation areas will be closed to the public as of March 25 as part of efforts to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Hamilton Conservation Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson said the “painful” but unanimous decision was made during a March 24 conference call with public health officials, the city’s Emergency Operations Centre and bylaw enforcement staff.

But the Ancaster councillor said the authority also had little choice because the province didn’t exclude it from mandatory business closures and people at the Spencer Gorge and other conservation areas were ignoring calls to maintain physical distancing.

Ferguson said trails, including the one to the popular Dundas Peak, are also often too narrow for people to keep the recommended two-metre separation.

As a result, all conservation areas will be closed until further notice and anyone who enters them will be trespassing, he said.

“The way we interpret it we had no choice, plus our lawyers told us if you know people are clustering — and we knew that — then you have to close. Once the province didn’t exempt us, it was an easier decision,” Ferguson said.

“Because it was a tough decision. I think people need a place to go to clear the air, to get some fresh air and get back to nature, but the province did not accept us (as an essential business) so we had to close.”

Authority chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said the move is in line with federal and provincial calls for people stay at home and only venture out for essentials.

She noted Halton, Grand River, Niagara and Credit Valley conservation areas have also closed, as have provincial and national parks.

“As public health noted to us, it is understood people need to get out for fresh air, but that can be done in their neighbourhood,” Burnside said.

“Over the past week, staff have observed visitation numbers at many of our conservation areas that we would expect to see in summer or fall, not in March, and appropriate physical distancing is not consistently being observed on the trails,” she said.

“Staff have also noted similar issues on viewing areas and platforms in our escarpment and waterfall areas which have limited space and large groups of people have resulted.”

Ferguson said he drove to several conservation areas over the past weekend and one parking lot by the Spencer Gorge was full while the other was about three-quarters full.

He said city bylaw staff will be enforcing parking prohibitions on roads there and by other popular areas, especially to maintain emergency access.

“We are not enforcing parking like we have in the past. People are home and they have to park on the street overnight, we get that,” he said.

“But when they start blocking emergency vehicles and access for other vehicles to get on the road then we will start to ticket vehicles.”

 

Coronavirus closes all Hamilton conservation areas

People clustering at popular spots, authority chair Lloyd Ferguson says

News Mar 24, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Confederation Beach Park and all other Hamilton conservation areas will be closed to the public as of March 25 as part of efforts to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Hamilton Conservation Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson said the “painful” but unanimous decision was made during a March 24 conference call with public health officials, the city’s Emergency Operations Centre and bylaw enforcement staff.

But the Ancaster councillor said the authority also had little choice because the province didn’t exclude it from mandatory business closures and people at the Spencer Gorge and other conservation areas were ignoring calls to maintain physical distancing.

Ferguson said trails, including the one to the popular Dundas Peak, are also often too narrow for people to keep the recommended two-metre separation.

As a result, all conservation areas will be closed until further notice and anyone who enters them will be trespassing, he said.

“The way we interpret it we had no choice, plus our lawyers told us if you know people are clustering — and we knew that — then you have to close. Once the province didn’t exempt us, it was an easier decision,” Ferguson said.

“Because it was a tough decision. I think people need a place to go to clear the air, to get some fresh air and get back to nature, but the province did not accept us (as an essential business) so we had to close.”

Authority chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said the move is in line with federal and provincial calls for people stay at home and only venture out for essentials.

She noted Halton, Grand River, Niagara and Credit Valley conservation areas have also closed, as have provincial and national parks.

“As public health noted to us, it is understood people need to get out for fresh air, but that can be done in their neighbourhood,” Burnside said.

“Over the past week, staff have observed visitation numbers at many of our conservation areas that we would expect to see in summer or fall, not in March, and appropriate physical distancing is not consistently being observed on the trails,” she said.

“Staff have also noted similar issues on viewing areas and platforms in our escarpment and waterfall areas which have limited space and large groups of people have resulted.”

Ferguson said he drove to several conservation areas over the past weekend and one parking lot by the Spencer Gorge was full while the other was about three-quarters full.

He said city bylaw staff will be enforcing parking prohibitions on roads there and by other popular areas, especially to maintain emergency access.

“We are not enforcing parking like we have in the past. People are home and they have to park on the street overnight, we get that,” he said.

“But when they start blocking emergency vehicles and access for other vehicles to get on the road then we will start to ticket vehicles.”

 

Coronavirus closes all Hamilton conservation areas

People clustering at popular spots, authority chair Lloyd Ferguson says

News Mar 24, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Confederation Beach Park and all other Hamilton conservation areas will be closed to the public as of March 25 as part of efforts to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Hamilton Conservation Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson said the “painful” but unanimous decision was made during a March 24 conference call with public health officials, the city’s Emergency Operations Centre and bylaw enforcement staff.

But the Ancaster councillor said the authority also had little choice because the province didn’t exclude it from mandatory business closures and people at the Spencer Gorge and other conservation areas were ignoring calls to maintain physical distancing.

Ferguson said trails, including the one to the popular Dundas Peak, are also often too narrow for people to keep the recommended two-metre separation.

As a result, all conservation areas will be closed until further notice and anyone who enters them will be trespassing, he said.

“The way we interpret it we had no choice, plus our lawyers told us if you know people are clustering — and we knew that — then you have to close. Once the province didn’t exempt us, it was an easier decision,” Ferguson said.

“Because it was a tough decision. I think people need a place to go to clear the air, to get some fresh air and get back to nature, but the province did not accept us (as an essential business) so we had to close.”

Authority chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said the move is in line with federal and provincial calls for people stay at home and only venture out for essentials.

She noted Halton, Grand River, Niagara and Credit Valley conservation areas have also closed, as have provincial and national parks.

“As public health noted to us, it is understood people need to get out for fresh air, but that can be done in their neighbourhood,” Burnside said.

“Over the past week, staff have observed visitation numbers at many of our conservation areas that we would expect to see in summer or fall, not in March, and appropriate physical distancing is not consistently being observed on the trails,” she said.

“Staff have also noted similar issues on viewing areas and platforms in our escarpment and waterfall areas which have limited space and large groups of people have resulted.”

Ferguson said he drove to several conservation areas over the past weekend and one parking lot by the Spencer Gorge was full while the other was about three-quarters full.

He said city bylaw staff will be enforcing parking prohibitions on roads there and by other popular areas, especially to maintain emergency access.

“We are not enforcing parking like we have in the past. People are home and they have to park on the street overnight, we get that,” he said.

“But when they start blocking emergency vehicles and access for other vehicles to get on the road then we will start to ticket vehicles.”