Trans­formed Veld­huis tract set to be­come Canal Park

Favoured name one of seven sub­mit­ted in pub­lic con­test

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - RICHARD LEITNER

The new park on the former Veld­huis Green­houses prop­erty is set to draw its name from the water­way that makes it a pop­u­lar spot for peo­ple and wildlife.

Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity di­rec­tors are be­ing asked to ap­prove Canal Park over six other monikers sug­gested by the pub­lic in a nam­ing con­test ear­lier this year.

They in­cluded Big Chim­ney Na­ture Park, Tur­tle Run Park, Tur­tle Cross­ing The Canal, Founders’ Green and Des­jardins Gar­dens.

Grace Cor­reia, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion, said a staff com­mit­tee favoured Canal Park be­cause of the Des­jardins Canal’s his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion to Dun­das.

The park will of­fi­cially open Aug. 20 dur­ing the Cac­tus Fes­ti­val, when the con­test win­ner and donors will be rec­og­nized.

“The in­di­vid­ual that sub­mit­ted the name talked about the sig­nif­i­cance of the canal to Dun­das and cer­tainly to what’s there now,” Cor­reia told mem­bers of the con­ser­va­tion ad­vi­sory board at their July 14 meet­ing.

While staff had hoped the board would en­dorse the name, it couldn’t do so be­cause there weren’t enough mem­bers on hand to make the quo­rum re­quired for a vote.

As a re­sult, the rec­om­men­da­tion will go to the Aug. 4 di­rec­tors meet­ing for ap­proval.

“It’s a nice name,” said ad­vi­sory board chair Maria Topalovic, who is also a di­rec­tor. “It’s sad that we can’t ap­prove your rec­om­men­da­tion tonight.”

The au­thor­ity bought the one-hectare prop­erty in 2008 and de­mol­ished its 14 green­houses and build­ings in ’11, but re­tained a chim­ney that is now its most prom­i­nent fea­ture af­ter dis­cov­er­ing it was a nest­ing spot for en­dan­gered chim­ney swifts.

It then im­ported 20,000 cu­bic me­tres of clean fill from a McMaster Univer­sity build­ing site in 2013 for a one-me­tre cap to pre­vent peo­ple from be­ing ex­posed to the site’s heavy met­als and other tox­ins.

Dun­das’s two Ro­tary clubs have con­trib­uted $125,000 in work and do­na­tions to a pub­lic square by the chim­ney, now flanked by two dis­tinc­tive steel arches.

The park also in­cludes a se­ries of paths, a re­stored wet­land and gravel nest­ing ar­eas for tur­tles by the canal’s banks, a safe al­ter­na­tive to ones on the north side of King Street that re­quire them to risk be­ing killed by traf­fic.

Chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Chris FirthEagland said a shaded view­ing plat­form along the canal will be added once fund­ing is in place, but the park is oth­er­wise as planned.

He said it was over­planted be­cause some plants won’t sur­vive, but those that do will be al­lowed to grow nat­u­rally.

“It’s how it’s sup­posed to look at this stage,” Firth-Eagland said. “It’s go­ing to take years to ma­ture.”

HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

The site of the former Veld­huis Green­houses in Dun­das. A sec­tion of ar­bour was all that re­mained from the orig­i­nal build­ings in 2013.

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