Dec 16, 2015
New land acquisitions (in red) creates wildlife corridor from Cootes Paradise to the Niagara Escarpment
Burlington, ON, December 15, 2015 – Nearly 100 acres of natural lands situated in the Greenbelt in Hamilton have been safeguarded from development forever thanks to the partners in the Cootes to Escarpment Ecopark System.
The land, in Dundas’ Pleasant View (York and Valley Roads and York and Old Guelph Roads), falls within one of Canada’s biodiversity hotspots. It is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals, including nearly one- quarter of Canada’s wild plants and more than 50 at-risk species. It provides the last intact ecological connection between Lake Ontario wetlands and the Niagara escarpment. The area is also situated in one of the country’s most rapidly developing urban and economic regions, where growth has resulted in the fragmentation of natural areas into a disconnected patchwork of smaller protected sections. The newly acquired lands are two separate tracts which provide the connection between protected properties, creating a safeguarded wildlife corridor stretching from Cootes Paradise to the Niagara Escarpment.
The new Pleasant View properties are now owned by Conservation Halton, Hamilton Conservation Authority, and Royal Botanical Gardens. Funds for this purchase have come from the Hamilton Community Foundation, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Conservation Halton Foundation, the City of Hamilton, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. Financial support of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation was crucial in helping make arrangements for this project.
“The protection of these natural lands is an example of what can be achieved when so many great organizations can work together towards a common goal,” said Dr. David Galbraith, RBG’s head of science and chair of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System management committee. “We are delighted at the progress made so far in permanently protecting natural lands between Hamilton Harbour and the Escarpment and look forward to continuing this momentum.”
“Royal Botanical Gardens is honoured to have a leading role in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System partnership,” said Mr. Mark Runciman, CEO of Royal Botanical Gardens and Chair of the EcoPark System governing council. “The purchase of these lands in Pleasant View is a tangible demonstration of the power of working together toward the vision of the EcoPark System. There is now a continuous corridor of protected land from the Niagara Escarpment to Cootes Paradise. This has been a major goal for us all along.”
Hamilton Community Foundation also played a critical role in the acquisition, bringing donors with a deep environmental interest, and stepping forward with a loan which enabled the simultaneous purchase of both pieces of land.
“We are thrilled to have been able to play the part of catalyst in securing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Terry Cooke, president & CEO of the foundation. “Our spectacular natural surroundings are one of the area’s most defining features. We are proud that the foundation’s long history of commitment to the environment impact will include protecting and preserving these critical lands and the wildlife that inhabit them.”
Long-time owners of the properties are pleased to see the properties sold to EcoPark System partners, ensuring the lands remain in a natural state as part of an important wildlife corridor.
While half of the land acquisition funds have been secured, approximately $850,000 will still need to be raised. EcoPark System partners will be looking for community support to help complete this important land purchase.
Partners in the Ecopark System have now permanently protected more than 220 acres of ecologically significant land in the past two years, through purchase, donation and conservation easement.
“We have made incredible progress,” says Jen Baker, land securement coordinator for the group, “but we still have a way to go as we look both for landowners who are interested in contributing properties in the EcoPark System, and contributions to help make land purchase possible.” She adds that landowners who are interested in contributing lands to the EcoPark System can receive help from the partners with the land securement process and provide advice on the best options that meet their needs.
Landowners who are interested in contributing lands to the EcoPark System can receive help from the partners with the land securement process, including advice on the best options that meet their needs. Please contact Jen Baker, Land Securement Coordinator, for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org, 905-524-3339).
The Parties to the Memorandum of Understanding Establishing the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System are:
• Bruce Trail Conservancy
• Conservation Halton
• Hamilton Conservation Authority
• Hamilton Naturalists’ Club
• City of Burlington
• Halton Region
• City of Hamilton
• McMaster University
• Royal Botanical Gardens
with support from the Office of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan.