Hamil­to­ni­ans al­ready know fight­ing grav­ity is an up­hill bat­tle.

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL -

THEY’RE USED TO the unique chal­lenges of host­ing a Moun­tain in the mid­dle of their city — chal­lenges like pay­ing more for snow-clear­ing, re­plac­ing brake pads more of­ten and watch­ing more closely for fall­ing rocks than your av­er­age city slicker.

Many res­i­dents will ar­gue it’s a small price to pay for fan­tas­tic vis­tas, trails, parks and wa­ter­falls.

But the cost of that beloved ge­og­ra­phy is now on the rise — for all tax­pay­ers, whether you live on the edge or not — thanks to a mix of his­tor­i­cally-bad plan­ning, sur­pris­ingly-good mar­ket­ing and an in­ex­orably-chang­ing cli­mate.

The city is be­ing asked to save or buy homes his­tor­i­cally built too close to the edge. Es­carp­ment rocks — and the walls meant to keep them in place — are fall­ing more of­ten on our Moun­tain-climb­ing roads. Even our vis­i­tors are lit­er­ally fall­ing for our wa­ter­falls with alarm­ing fre­quency.

The pro­posed so­lu­tions to those problems come with big dol­lar signs and tough ques­tions.

Do we have a moral or le­gal obli­ga­tion to buy homes tee­ter­ing on the brink? Do we spend tens of mil­lions of dol­lars pro­tect­ing mo­torists on es­carp­ment roads but put off Moun­tain­climb­ing bike lanes? Should we fence off na­ture to save care­less vis­i­tors from them­selves?

Spec­ta­tor re­porter Matthew Van Dongen explores the price of liv­ing on the edge in a se­ries of sto­ries start­ing Fri­day.

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