Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy
The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) has, over the past 50 years, advanced the protection of significant ecosystems, natural lands and the Escarpment in the Dundas Valley area. Now, to ensure this legacy is protected in perpetuity, HCA is taking a proactive approach to the preservation and stewardship of the natural "gem" in Hamilton's Crown by implementing the Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy.
The setting for this natural area in Hamilton is subject to increasing development pressures. Because of the efforts of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the HCA, the City of Hamilton, and numerous other stakeholders, a large part of the area remains protected. The Vision for the Valley encompasses 5,400 hectares of land. These lands are home to a myriad of beautiful vistas, stunning waterfalls, fascinating wetlands, and undisturbed expanses of forests, fields, remnant prairie, rivers, and streams. The history of the area is characterized within main streets, the Hermitage Ruins and Gatehouse, the Griffin House, and the Woodend house.
With the help of LURA Consulting, the Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy was created in 2009 through the collaborative efforts of the local community. Through this process the following mission statement was crafted:
"In 2058, Dundas Valley continues as a diverse, sustainable, and essential Niagara Escarpment ecosystem. The Area's forests, streams, meadows, farmlands and neighbourhoods connect people living in vibrant urban and rural Hamilton communities with their natural and cultural heritage."
The Dundas Valley Area
The setting for this natural "gem' in Hamilton's crown is subject to increasing development pressures Because of the efforts of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the HCA, the City of Hamilton, and numerous other stakeholders, a large part of this natural area remains protected. The Vision for the Valley encompasses 5,400 hectares of land (1,464 owned by HCA). The area extends beyond the HCA's lands into the rural countryside. Beautiful vistas, stunning waterfalls, fascinating wetlands, and undisturbed expanses of forest (including Carolinian forest), fields, remnant prairie, rivers and streams characterize the natural attributes of the Valley lands. Indigenous and First Nation peoples used the land centuries before European settlement. Ancient Trails lie under many of the roads that now span the area between Hamilton Harbour/Cootes Paradise and the Grand River. In the late 1700's pioneers began to settle in the area forming communities that are now known as Ancaster, Flamborough, Greensville, and Dundas with their legacy being reflected on main streets, the Hermitage Ruins & Gatehouse, the Griffin House and Woodend.
With pressures on Hamilton for growth and given the Valley's strategic location, the natural lands may become vulnerable to impacts from the development of roads and residences. Care must be taken to ensure that this growth does not result in the loss of ecologically important natural systems, the agricultural economy and the erosion of the rural lifestyle. The Conservation Areas are also under threat from the impacts of conflicting trail uses . Without public and user education, signage, and controls, some of the area may become degraded over time.
Overarching Themes and Goals of the Vision
Through joint stakeholder and community engagement, discussion, and collaboration, the Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy was created. Based on an analysis of the current conditions in the Valley, a number of challenges were identified and from these 4 themes, 11 goals, and 43 strategic directions were born (See Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy document).
The Dundas Valley community identified these goals for the Valley to help direct efforts to accomplish the Vision's mandate. The comprehensive goals, span over a range of land use protection, economic, education and stewardship, and financial sustainability priorities identified by stakeholders and residents. The resulting strategic directions is hoped to guide the local community towards reaching these goals. The Vision focused around 4 common themes-each founded on the priority of protecting and enhancing Dundas Valley lands. Each theme is interdependent on, and intricately connected to, the others:
Not all of the goals fall within the jurisdiction of the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA). In these cases, partner organizations are identified who will be approached to support these elements of the strategy's implementation. It will be a unique opportunity for exceptional organizational and individual leadership. The HCA will continue to take a leadership role, while carefully evaluating and developing a durable organization and financial model within the 18- month early stage implementation phase of the Vision. The Vision strives to be a long-term legacy and strategy that recognizes and protects the inherent value of the Valley in addition to the user needs and aspirations between residents and landowners to provide a balance between science-based and community based goals.
18-month Early Stage Implementation Phase
To initiate this 50-Year Vision, an 18-month early implementation phase is currently being undertaken from the period of 2012-2013. The core objectives of this phase surround project planning, policy development, and community engagement and participation with key priorities being to ensure that the Dundas Valley is increasingly linked with the Cootes to the Escarpment Park System, and to cultivate an integrated management model that takes into consideration diverse stakeholder values. This project phase has been graciously funded by the Friends of the Greenbelt foundation and will contribute directly to achieving the goals of the Greenbelt, by ensuring the permanency of the Greenbelt in the Dundas Valley and strengthening public and municipal support for it. It is hoped that by the end of this phase, there will be:
- An established steering committee of local stakeholders, partners, and community opinion
- A 5-Year Implementation Plan and Methodology with costing
- Firmly committed partners who have endorsed the Vision at the board/council level
- A strong community, web, and social media presence
- A Dundas Valley that is increasingly linked with the Cootes the Escarpment Park System
- An integrated management model for use with Vision implementation partners
- Executive summaries of key aspects of the Vision for internal, public, and academic use
TOP 10 ACTION AREAS
With the help of the community, we have identified the following 10 action areas for implementation:
- Preserve and enhance connectivity of ecosystems in the Valley/Explore the co-benefits of connecting with the Cootes to the Escarpment Park natural areas strategy
Preserve the escarpment and rural countryside, including selected vistas
Protect rare, endangered, and species at risk within the Valley area
Combat the impact of invasive species and nuisance species in the Valley
Maintain and Protect local architectural and natural heritage
Promote green business practices within the community
Develop farmer-generated mechanisms to develop public support for agriculture/ Increase awareness of the importance of local agriculture as both an activity and a lifestyle/Support the promotion of locally grown and processed crops in close proximity to residents
Support the implementation of the City of Hamilton's 'special character roads' through the Valley
Develop a valley-wide sustainable tourism business plan and marketing strategy to promote eco, cultural, and culinary and recreational tourism
Protect and enhance the health of streams, watercourses, and waterfalls
How you can help:
- Spread the word about the Vision by telling your friends, family and neighbours!
- Check our project website for updates about public open houses and other events
- Join our community blog and give us your feedback: http://dundasvalley.blogspot.ca/
- Contact the Project Coordinator (contact information below) to get more information or to find out how you can participate.
Resources and Links
- Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy Document
- Dundas Valley 50-Year Vision and Strategy Appendices
- Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
- Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation - Food and Farming
- Dundas Valley Conservation Area
- Dundas Valley photo gallery on Flickr
- Cootes to the Escarpment Park System
For more information about the project please contact:
Dundas Valley Project Coordinator
P.O. Box 81067, 838 Mineral Springs Road,
Ancaster, Ontario L9G4X1
Phone: 905-525-2181 ext. 157