Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leash or Leash Free Decision Held Back

As someone who uses the trail through Warren park as part of the hiking trail system in this valley, having a leash-free area creates a great deal of fear and potential danger for people.
We don't know that your dog, barreling toward us and our young children, is friendly or attacking.

I have seen dogs disobey orders, I have heard "he's never done THAT before" after the dog has growled at us, or started aggressively barking at us; there are just so many potential conflicts that the owners are unable to address that having the two uses i.e. hiking and leash-free, are incompatible.
After years of reading meters for Hydro, I know very well that dogs can be unpredictable, yes, even yours. The owner's verbal assurances aren't worth the paper they are written on when it comes to our safety and comfort.
Of course I will never forget the shock and horror of the time a free-running dog attacked and killed our dog (in Burlington): the dog's owner was unable to first control, then unable to get his dog off ours until it was too late: he ended up chasing after his dog into the dark, while we were left to pick up the remains of our family pet.
I see leash free areas in neighbouring Burlington, fenced in, and not in Environmentally Sensitive Areas, so I certainly hope the staff report reflects concerns above and beyond convenience or a sense of "right" of dog owners.
Dundas decision on dog leashes will have to wait

The Hamilton Spectator

(Apr 20, 2010)

A decision on the freedom of dogs in Dundas's Warren Park won't come until late summer.

The city's public works committee heard from many passionate delegates on both sides of the leash-free debate yesterday before Dundas Councillor Russ Powers moved that the matter go to staff for a report due back in August. He asked staff to come up with alternative locations for a leash-free area in Dundas.

Dog lovers said the park has been leash-free for 23 years and Hamilton already has a shortage of areas to legally walk dogs off-leash. Brian Hinkley, representing the Friends of Warren Park, said users ensure the area is clean and safe and that a volunteer committee can address the concerns of the park's neighbours.

But nearby residents say the use of the park has skyrocketed in the past few years and neighbours are subjected to noise, clogged streets and unruly dogs.

The park abuts the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Dogs must be leashed in those areas and the Hamilton Conservation Authority has said it's going to step up enforcement after receiving complaints.

A group called Warren Park for Everyone urged the city to make it leash-only because it is within a designated environmentally sensitive area and is near walking trails.



Saturday, April 17, 2010

so many reasons

Spring is making her presence felt in so many magical ways. If you were needing a prompt to lace up your boots and hit the trails, just the chorus of frogs singing could be enough to justify a trip to the woods in search of the small ponds and marshes.

Or perhaps the lure of the early spring flowers will drag you away from your busy life: one of my favourites - trout lilies - are colouring the forest floor with subtle intensity. And of course the Mayapple, pictured, finding room to spread out beneath the hickory, oaks and the black cherry trees.

Love is in the air, so get out and enjoy it! (Remember, leave the plants and the wildlife alone i.e no picking flowers, if for no other reason than that others may also enjoy)
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Friday, April 9, 2010

human powered trails please!

I go to the woods to get away from the 'hustle and bustle', which for me is an euphemism for 'motor vehicles.' The trails offer quiet and safe surroundings to relax and enjoy nature.
But it seems recreation for some people means simply changing what and where they drive. The two uses (passive human powered locomotion: fast loud ATVs etc) in one area are incompatible. I hope they catch and fine some of the ATV, motorcycle riders, etc. for trespassing on Conservation Area trails and can find ways to keep them out. The damage they cause to sensitive natural areas is too great to ignore.

Motorized vehicles not permitted on trails

Published on Apr 08, 2010, Dundas Star News

The Hamilton Conservation Authority has developed more than 140 kilometres of trails throughout the City of Hamilton in conservation areas and on regional trails, like the Dofasco Trail, Chippawa Trail, Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail and the Lafarge Trail.

The popular trails provide areas for passive enjoyment by hikers and bicyclists throughout the region. HCA also provides Hamilton with first-class hiking and outdoor recreation facilities.

The high value of these trails to the physical and mental well-being of citizens in the community is well recognized, said HCA operations manager Bruce Mackenzie.

“The Conservation Authority asks all members of the community to enjoy the trails for their intended uses,” he said. “However, we request that no one uses these trails with motorized vehicles.”

Mackenzie said the use of these trails by all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and motorcycles seriously erodes the value of these trails for the community.

“Plus HCA is spending thousands of dollars trying to keep motorized vehicles off of the trails,” he said, pointing out gates are being destroyed and barriers removed, while legitimate users of these trails are intimidated by fast-moving motorized vehicles.

HCA hopes thousands will enjoy its trails in the way they were intended to be used. To help ensure public safety and decrease property damage, HCA staff will be assigned to patrol areas frequented by ATVs and other motorized vehicles.

Mackenzie said violators could face charges and fines under the Trespass to Property Act and/or the Conservation Authority Act of Ontario.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hike a "Draining" Experience

I have been a fan of www.vanishingpoint.ca for years, not only for the fact that these urban explorers go where most dare not (sewers), but as much for the ethereal photos of this often stunning underground world of architecture they produce.

For a local perspective, you must view the Drains of the Hammer

In the preamble to the Hamilton page, the author supports Hamilton's latest tourism wonder:
Hamilton has more waterfalls within its urban limits than any other city in the world, and this has coloured our experience of its drains, offering a particularly majestic, if no less conflicted, intersection of nature and cement.
Unfortunately, the author/explorer - Michael Cook (Kowalski) - has been arrested for pursuing his pastime in Toronto, along another sewer that replaced a creek (the majority of Hamilton's original creeks are buried and now serve as combined sewer overflows) .

In a way, they are explorers of natural history, taking a former natural waterway, and tracing its path, now reformed in concrete and buried. Should they be punished for their work? Check out their web site and then decide.

Here's an article from the Toronto Star:

Two men arrested for late-night foray into sewers

April 05, 2010, Katie Daubs, Toronto Star


While many urban explorers publish under aliases, Cook and Emond have always revealed their identities.MICHAEL COOK/VANISHINGPOINT.CA

When two men were arrested for taking a stroll in the sewers on Sunday, police were flummoxed.

“That’s not normal, people going down into the sewers,” said Det. Dan Murphy at 14 Division. “Why are they going down into the sewers?”

Well, it really doesn’t smell that bad, according to one of the men arrested.

“For the most part it isn’t toilet waste, which makes up a small part of the stream,” Andrew Emond told the Daily Commercial News and Construction Record last month. “It’s mostly water from showers, baths and dishwashers, which gives off a kind of soapy, organic smell, which isn’t unpleasant.”

Michael Cook, 27, of Toronto, and Andrew Emond, 35, of Montreal were arrested Sunday after a perplexed citizen saw them enter the sewer near Ossington Ave. and Dundas St. W. Both face charges of mischief to interfere with property.

“I don’t feel comfortable commenting on this event just yet until it’s been resolved in court,” Emond wrote in an email on Monday. Emails to Cook were not returned.

Both men are urban explorers and photographers. Cook runs www.vanishingpoint.ca, and Emond runs www.undermontreal.com. Both have explored drains for several years and most recently, the men were exploring the sewers that replaced Garrison Creek, in the western section of downtown.

Urban exploration is a hobby and subculture where people venture into drains, abandoned buildings and infrastructure to photograph the forgotten past and unseen workings of a city. Some ask permission, some don’t.

“It’s illegal what we do unfortunately” said a Toronto photographer acquaintance of Cook and Emond, who’s accompanied them twice to the sewers that don’t smell as bad as you’d think.

“We don’t do this to break the law,” said the fellow explorer who did not want his name used. “It’s about urban cartography, viewing the city that isn’t visualized through streets and other landmarks.”

He said they are usually outfitted with hip waders and goggles, and always listen to the weather forecast to make sure there’s no rain.

Urban exploration can be deadly. In 2009, a man lost his life after he was swept into the Mississippi River when the tunnel he was exploring in Minneapolis-St. Paul filled with rainwater. Another urban explorer on the same venture survived.

“We take every precaution necessary to keep ourselves safe,” the photographer said. “Every time it rains obviously those pipes are going to fill up and are potentially dangerous.”

In a 2007 interview with a U.S. blog, Cook said he once ran into trouble while navigating the “surge spillways” that “spiral downwards” at the Ontario Generating Station in the Niagara Region. Cook said he lost his footing and slid 60 metres to the bottom.

“I was very lucky to come away from that with just a few friction burns and a sprained thumb,” he told BLDGBLOG.

Although many urban explorers publish their photos under aliases, Cook and Emond have always been up front about their identities on their respective websites.

Emond has said he’s explored Montreal’s sewer and waste water system for three years without any repercussions.

“In fact, I’ve received positive responses from a wide range of people, including historians, engineers, architects, community planners, the media, artists and even local politicians,” he said.

Cook has said most urban explorers aren’t interested in “undergrounding” because it can be kilometres on end of “featureless pipe.”

Troy Paiva, a San Francisco photographer who wrote Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration, has other reasons to stay above ground.

“I don’t do functioning infrastructure. I find it’s too easy to get thrown in jail,” he said.

Paiva has run into police, property owners and people with shotguns, all telling him to scram. He’s never been charged.

“You have to learn how to talk to people and say you’re just a weirdo artist, not a vandal or a thief. I think most people think you’re in there to do drugs, break the place up or to tag it,” he said.

In his interview with BLDGBLOG, Cook acknowledged legal issues around sewer exploration are “pretty grey.”

“It’s not something that I’ve ever had a problem with — and definitely not something that requires me to go in the middle of the night,” he said. “The only thing that really dictates what time you can go is traffic conditions. If you have to use a streetside manhole, you generally don’t want to be doing that doing the day.”

Stanley Greenberg, who has photographed the infrastructure beneath New York City since the early ’90s, says urban explorers are like well-intentioned computer hackers.

“Part of the challenge is finding your way in. They’re not there to do any harm, these aren’t people who do graffiti,” he said. “Granted it’s occasionally dangerous, it can cause problems, but most of the time it’s pretty harmless.”

Greenberg, who published Invisible New York, has pestered officials for permission for most of his explorations, but there have been a few places he had to sneak into.

“So many places I’ve been to, I thought, ‘I almost don’t care if I make a good picture, I’m getting to see this incredible place, to be on the edge of the unrestored part of Ellis Island, it’s like you’re in a different century.’ ”

Cook and Emond’s acquaintance said he felt obliged to speak about urban exploration to dispel myths.

“A city like Toronto desperately needs more urban mythology. Instead of having crap like the CN Tower, the SkyDome represent the city, we present things that have been around much longer that most people aren’t even aware of.”

With files from John Goddard

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tuesday Trail Torched


RBG plans burn Tuesday

The Royal Botanical Gardens plans to burn off unwanted invasive plants at three locations around Cootes Paradise Tuesday morning.

Weather permitting, prescribed burns will take place at 11 a.m. along York Boulevard between Old Guelph Road and the Rock Garden, at noon at Princess Point in Westdale and at 12:30 p.m. on nearby Sassafras Point. RBG officials say the times are approximate.

The idea is to burn off invasive species that sprout in early spring to make room for native grasses that emerge later, with the aim of restoring tallgrass prairie and oak savannah plant communities.


sun rock and water

Sherman Falls in all it's springlike glory (even with low rainfall amounts to date). May April showers bring more glorious tumbling H20 over the escarpment in Dundas and surrounding area.
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