The proposed Shaver Estates Park is a 1.68 hectare parcel of land located at 33 Brooking Court in Ancaster.
OFFICIAL PLAN DESIGNATION
The park parcel is identified for "Neighbourhood Park" purposes in the City's new Council-adopoted Official Plan (currently under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board), and in the Shaver Neighbourhood Secondary Plan. (Urban Hamilton Official Plan, App A, Parks Classification Map).
In the Shaver Neighbourhood Secondary Plan, there are provisions for a variety of park and open space designations, including Neighbourhood Parks, Natural Open Space, and pedestrian walkways, and the text in 126.96.36.199 b) states "…the City shall encourage the development of a linked open space system in the Shaver Neighbourhood incorporating the Community Park, Neighbourhood Park, schools, Big Creek valleylands, wooded areas and pedestrian walkways…" and in c) states "…the westerly Neighbourhood Park, the Community Park/schools complex and the publicly owned Natural Open Space lands shall be linked by a pedestrian/bikeway system utilizing a combination of open space walkways and sidewalks…" (Shaver Neighbourhood Secondary Plan text, Shaver Neighbourhood Secondary Plan Mapping)
On the Official Plan mapping, the wetland in the Shaver Estates Park area is shown as "core", but not as an "Environmentally Significant Area". The entire City property at Shaver Estates Park is under the jurisdiction of the Grand River Conservation Authority, who has permitting authority over the alteration of wetland habitat. (Urban Hamilton Official Plan, Sch B, Natural Heritage System, Urban Hamilton Official Plan, Schedule B-6 Detailed Natural Heritage Features).
In the Official Plan, section C 2.5.1, generally, permitted uses in a core area include "…passive recreation uses and small scale structure for recreation uses (such as boardwalks, footbridges, fences, docks, and picnic facilities) where permitted by the Conservation Authority policies; however the negative impacts on these features should be minimized…" The City has completed an Integrated Environmental Impact Statement to study and document the expected impacts of the proposed park and trail development, and discusses how those impacts may be mitigated through avoidance, sensitive design, and compensation.
The development proposals for the Shaver Neighbourhood were developed during the 1990's, and the entire area was studied in 1993 through a Master Drainage Study. In this study, the parkland on Brooking Court was identified as "peripheral wetland", meaning not significantly contributing to the adjacent core area wetland to the east. The drainage on site remains separated - the parkland actually drains to the Stormwater Management Facility across Brooking Court, rather than to the larger wetland adjacent. The "peripheral" nature of the water flow through the lands were part of the reasoning to allow parkland on the site at the time. The larger wetland on the park site developed after the construction of Brooking Court left a perched culvert which impeded this natural drainage and retained the water on the site, facilitating the creation of the wetland there now.
Since the Secondary Planning and studies in the 1990's, several developments have been constructed around the parkland, including Marz Homes shown in this site plan, as well as developments to the north of the park.
CURRENT ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
Studies completed on site include Ecological Land Classification, Breeding Bird Survey, Nocturnal Amphibian Call Survey (all found in the Integrated EIS), and Archaeological Stage 1 and 2 studies. (Shaver Estates Park & Trail Integrated EIS & Conceptual Plan).
The thorough site investigation shows that human use of the core areas and Shaver Estates Park are degrading the quality of the habitat. Unchecked continued use of the properties in this manner will further reduce the habitat quality and quantity in the area. There are precedent studies to suggest that controlled access to areas such as these can help to reduce the undesirable uses of natural areas, by allowing people "easy" access and encouraging them to stay on the path created, thereby focussing the impacts in one place, as well as improving the "natural surveillance" by users of the path to discourage those who would use these areas for paintball and other destructive activities, as is currently happening. To mitigate the impact of the path through the wetland areas, a boardwalk is proposed to allow for free water and wildlife movement under the walking surface. Where possible, an upland path is proposed outside of the staked wetland boundary. A clear span bridge is proposed over the existing stream, to avoid impacts to the stream banks and fisheries.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
Below, you will find information regarding the public consultation process followed for park and open space development. The path followed for the Shaver Estates Park and Trail is highlighted. At the public meeting in April 2011, the comments received were positive and in favour of the park and trail project. Throughout the summer of 2011, the city has proceeded to refine the development plans in preparation for construction in 2012.
In September 2011, city staff and the consulting team met with ESAIEG (Environmentally Sensitive Areas Impact Evaluation Group), an advisory body to the City of Hamilton. While ESAIEG does not normally support the loss of core area, in this case they are prepared to support the development proposal because:
- ESAIEG recognizes that the park is needed and has been promised in this location (as shown in the Secondary Plan)
- The Core Area is degraded from existing uses and the construction of a trail may reduce the existing residential impacts; and
the City has committed to rehabilitating the Core Area, to increase the quality of the remaining habitat.
The project Integrated EIS has been reviewed by the Grand River Conservation Authority, who have accepted the EIS pending a permit application.
The City is working on finalizing the detailed design drawings in order to apply for a permit from the Grand River Conservation Authority, in preparation for construction in 2012.