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The Benefits of Harbour Restoration
Creating a healthy and sustainable Hamilton Harbour is about more than building a vital ecosystem, it is about developing an irreplaceable resource that meets a variety of community needs. When Hamilton Harbour is delisted as an area of concern (AOC), it will be a huge community milestone and an international certification that the harbour has become a central element of Hamilton’s ecological, social, economic and recreational future.
With the help of a number of community stakeholders – the City of Hamilton included – the ecosystem of Hamilton Harbour and its watershed is slowly healing after more than a century of neglect. That return brings with it healthier and more diverse fish and wildlife populations and more robust plant biodiversity. These qualities make our local ecosystem more resilient, more sustainable and more capable of contributing to its own recovery. As a result, vistas are more beautiful, walks along the water’s edge are more pleasant and the experience of the harbour is more natural.
The environmental recovery to date has seen the return of native wild celery to Cootes Paradise after a 50-year absence and the return of bald eagles after a similar period of extirpation. These changes are bringing Hamiltonians and visitors back to the water, making nature a fixture of the Hamilton experience.
As the Hamilton Harbour ecosystem recovers, as it provides more natural areas and vistas as well as more accessible and enjoyable natural experiences for Hamiltonians, it becomes an increasingly powerful economic engine. It enhances property values and provides the kind of easy-to-reach natural contact so valued by knowledge workers and progressive employers. The reduction of contaminants and pollution, along with the added incentive to exercise and participate in recreational activities, contribute to significant public health benefits as well.
When the harbour is delisted as an area of concern, it will represent a definitive change to Hamilton’s reputation as a city dominated by heavy industry. It will also lead to significant measurable economic benefits. Around the tenth anniversary of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, a research project led by York University's Schulich School of Business estimated that the economic benefits of restoring the harbour would be approximately $1 billion dollars.
Social & Recreation:
Anyone who has spent time in nature knows the social and psychological value of that experience. Increasingly, scientific evidence supports that feeling. Time spent in natural environments such as Cootes Paradise and the parks and trails around Hamilton Harbour can, for example, help reduce the symptoms of attention disorders and improve mental health. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the United States found that exposure to nature can significantly reduce stress and anxiety for people living in cities, while also contributing to higher academic performance and increased physical fitness in children. With free opportunities to walk, jog, bike and blade near the water’s edge and the chance to swim, boat, scull, row and paddle in and on the water, there’s a harbour-connected activity for everyone.
Hamilton Harbour’s parks, trails and ever-more-accessible shoreline also provide community gathering places and cultural venues. Just as importantly, the natural assets of the harbour are accessible to everyone. The parks and trails are free to use and all are located within the City limits. There’s no long trip to the woods, no detailed planning required. A healthy Hamilton Harbour is a place for all Hamiltonians.
 The destruction or loss of a plant or animal species within a specific geographic area
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