Not realizing the danger is the real danger of trespassing at Albion Falls

Opinion Jul 20, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Hamilton Mountain News

I’ve really been enjoying the debate over the new fencing at Albion Falls. Based on the letters and social media comments we’ve received, it seems that two-thirds of respondents are in favour of fences and fines in order to keep people from getting themselves into predicaments that could cause them serious injuries or death.

I love the woods and the outdoors. I understand the pull of wanting to just be surrounded by nature. I’m also a naturally curious person, so I can empathise with the desire to explore the world around you. I get why people would want to ignore the warnings and hop the fence to experience the falls up close, yet I’m all for fining those who do.

There is risk and danger in every aspect of life, and while I’m not one who thinks we should all be walking around swaddled in bubble wrap, we shouldn’t be stupidly putting ourselves in peril either.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a geologist for a father. He explained to me the fact that while rocks look stable and eternal, they are constantly changing. They weather, they crack, they break and they fall. Every cliff edge and every rock face could collapse at any moment so you need to treat them with care.

However, you shouldn’t need to have a geologist in the family to understand the danger. How many times a year is one of the Mountain accesses closed due to a rock slide? Why should the area around a waterfall (which in and of itself helps to destabilize the surrounding rock) be any safer?

What makes it worse is that there is often no warning before a rock fall occurs. You can have a 100 different people stand in the same spot on the cliff face and have nothing happen, but the moment person 101 takes their place it will collapse. Anywhere you stand could kill you before you even realized what’s happened.

And that’s doesn’t even account for those who might slip in the water or trip on a root.

Last month Mountain News editor Gord Bowes wrote a story how relatively few accidents there are around Niagara Falls, in spite of the fact that it gets more visitors than all the falls in Hamilton combined. Once upon a time, many people were injured and killed before authorities did something about it. In the last six years there have only been two non-suicide related deaths at the Niagara Falls — the same number suffered at Albion Falls last year.

I’m glad to see that the city is finally taking this issue seriously. Signs and plastic fencing were poor deterrents to those who wanted a closer look. The addition of stronger barriers and police and bylaw patrols should force would-be trespassers to give their actions a second thought.

In a way it’s a shame that these actions are necessary, but visitors to Albion Falls have shown time and time again that they are.

The next step is to follow Niagara’s lead and find ways to allow people to experience the natural beauty and power of Hamilton’s many waterfalls in a safe manner. This won’t be cheap, but will allow locals and tourists alike to get a good — and safe — look at our city’s hidden gems.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

Not realizing the danger is the real danger of trespassing at Albion Falls

Opinion Jul 20, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Hamilton Mountain News

I’ve really been enjoying the debate over the new fencing at Albion Falls. Based on the letters and social media comments we’ve received, it seems that two-thirds of respondents are in favour of fences and fines in order to keep people from getting themselves into predicaments that could cause them serious injuries or death.

I love the woods and the outdoors. I understand the pull of wanting to just be surrounded by nature. I’m also a naturally curious person, so I can empathise with the desire to explore the world around you. I get why people would want to ignore the warnings and hop the fence to experience the falls up close, yet I’m all for fining those who do.

There is risk and danger in every aspect of life, and while I’m not one who thinks we should all be walking around swaddled in bubble wrap, we shouldn’t be stupidly putting ourselves in peril either.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a geologist for a father. He explained to me the fact that while rocks look stable and eternal, they are constantly changing. They weather, they crack, they break and they fall. Every cliff edge and every rock face could collapse at any moment so you need to treat them with care.

Related Content

However, you shouldn’t need to have a geologist in the family to understand the danger. How many times a year is one of the Mountain accesses closed due to a rock slide? Why should the area around a waterfall (which in and of itself helps to destabilize the surrounding rock) be any safer?

What makes it worse is that there is often no warning before a rock fall occurs. You can have a 100 different people stand in the same spot on the cliff face and have nothing happen, but the moment person 101 takes their place it will collapse. Anywhere you stand could kill you before you even realized what’s happened.

And that’s doesn’t even account for those who might slip in the water or trip on a root.

Last month Mountain News editor Gord Bowes wrote a story how relatively few accidents there are around Niagara Falls, in spite of the fact that it gets more visitors than all the falls in Hamilton combined. Once upon a time, many people were injured and killed before authorities did something about it. In the last six years there have only been two non-suicide related deaths at the Niagara Falls — the same number suffered at Albion Falls last year.

I’m glad to see that the city is finally taking this issue seriously. Signs and plastic fencing were poor deterrents to those who wanted a closer look. The addition of stronger barriers and police and bylaw patrols should force would-be trespassers to give their actions a second thought.

In a way it’s a shame that these actions are necessary, but visitors to Albion Falls have shown time and time again that they are.

The next step is to follow Niagara’s lead and find ways to allow people to experience the natural beauty and power of Hamilton’s many waterfalls in a safe manner. This won’t be cheap, but will allow locals and tourists alike to get a good — and safe — look at our city’s hidden gems.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

Not realizing the danger is the real danger of trespassing at Albion Falls

Opinion Jul 20, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Hamilton Mountain News

I’ve really been enjoying the debate over the new fencing at Albion Falls. Based on the letters and social media comments we’ve received, it seems that two-thirds of respondents are in favour of fences and fines in order to keep people from getting themselves into predicaments that could cause them serious injuries or death.

I love the woods and the outdoors. I understand the pull of wanting to just be surrounded by nature. I’m also a naturally curious person, so I can empathise with the desire to explore the world around you. I get why people would want to ignore the warnings and hop the fence to experience the falls up close, yet I’m all for fining those who do.

There is risk and danger in every aspect of life, and while I’m not one who thinks we should all be walking around swaddled in bubble wrap, we shouldn’t be stupidly putting ourselves in peril either.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a geologist for a father. He explained to me the fact that while rocks look stable and eternal, they are constantly changing. They weather, they crack, they break and they fall. Every cliff edge and every rock face could collapse at any moment so you need to treat them with care.

Related Content

However, you shouldn’t need to have a geologist in the family to understand the danger. How many times a year is one of the Mountain accesses closed due to a rock slide? Why should the area around a waterfall (which in and of itself helps to destabilize the surrounding rock) be any safer?

What makes it worse is that there is often no warning before a rock fall occurs. You can have a 100 different people stand in the same spot on the cliff face and have nothing happen, but the moment person 101 takes their place it will collapse. Anywhere you stand could kill you before you even realized what’s happened.

And that’s doesn’t even account for those who might slip in the water or trip on a root.

Last month Mountain News editor Gord Bowes wrote a story how relatively few accidents there are around Niagara Falls, in spite of the fact that it gets more visitors than all the falls in Hamilton combined. Once upon a time, many people were injured and killed before authorities did something about it. In the last six years there have only been two non-suicide related deaths at the Niagara Falls — the same number suffered at Albion Falls last year.

I’m glad to see that the city is finally taking this issue seriously. Signs and plastic fencing were poor deterrents to those who wanted a closer look. The addition of stronger barriers and police and bylaw patrols should force would-be trespassers to give their actions a second thought.

In a way it’s a shame that these actions are necessary, but visitors to Albion Falls have shown time and time again that they are.

The next step is to follow Niagara’s lead and find ways to allow people to experience the natural beauty and power of Hamilton’s many waterfalls in a safe manner. This won’t be cheap, but will allow locals and tourists alike to get a good — and safe — look at our city’s hidden gems.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.