Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday January 7, 2020
Maybe Sewergate is a turning point for Cootes Paradise
On Nov. 21, Royal Botanical Gardens hosted our second open house to inform the public of progress made in our 25-year master plan and to obtain valuable feedback from the community that will help RBG develop a bold new direction through 2045 and beyond.
Our plan aims to address environmental pressures while transforming the Gardens into a world-class tourist destination and leader in conservation and environmental education. The scope of this project will effectpositive societal change for future generations and have significant economic and environmental impacts within southern Ontario and beyond. Naturally, we were very excited to spread the news of our plans at the open house.
With coffee in hand, I started that morning with great anticipation, but as I opened The Hamilton Spectator, I was dismayed to read (a now infamous story) that 24 billion litres of sewage and stormwater run-off had leaked into Chedoke Creek.
The focus in the news was on Chedoke Creek. Many people do not realize that Chedoke Creek discharges directly into the eastern corner of Cootes Paradise on its way out to Hamilton Harbour. Many people also do not realize that Cootes Paradise is part of Royal Botanical Gardens lands and that we are the stewards of this incredible area that is part of the Great Lakes System of North America.
I was both upset and optimistic with this news, as was Drew Wensley, CEO of MT Planners Ltd. I was upset that the positive news of our master plan would be overshadowed by the news of the spill, yet both of us were optimistic that perhaps now, RBG and Cootes Paradise would finally get the attention they need and, more importantly, deserve.
For almost eight decades, we have been working on improving the water quality of Cootes Paradise to enable the aquatic plants to return, creating a better ecosystem where flora and fauna will thrive. For 25 years, we have been involved in one of the largest fresh-water marsh restoration projects in North America — “Project Paradise” — and as of 2015, we had restored about 50 per cent of the marsh’s vegetation. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)