Tag Archives: Lake Ontario

A SoBi tour with Bill Curran

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Bill Curran pointing to the landscape beyond as he discusses the surrounding neighbourhood

Architect Bill Curran and I have been planning a bike ride for some time.

We often tour around Hamilton, checking out buildings and houses, discussing architecture, the neighbourhoods, and Hamilton’s deep history. Because of how large Hamilton is geographically, we either pick a neighbourhood to walk or we end up taking a car to cover the most ground possible. This weekend we were finally able to go for a bike ride. The area we picked is one of Bill’s favourites: the industrial north.

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#419 Lawanda is a personal favourite at the Locke Street hub

I grabbed a SoBi (there’s a rack conveniently close to my apartment) and was on my way to meet Bill out front of his office on James Street North. He had a route in mind, but we basically just winged it, taking alleys, bike lanes, and roads through the city to reach our destinations.

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Hidden behind it’s green shell is an old car dealership complete with a car ramp to the second floor

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The overlooked Our Lady Of Glastonburty Orthodox Church with little ornament on an expansive street of traffic

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Bill giving me a history lesson about the building that was once Mills Lighthouse

Our first notable stop was the Cannon bike lanes. There we stopped at points to discuss laneway housing, an old car dealership for sale, and a subtle little church easily missed by car.

Laneway housing is something Hamilton needs more of. They add density, character to neighbourhoods, and help increase the city’s building stock in an unobtrusive way (just to name a few of the benefits). Bill’s firm, TCA, did a study on Laneway housing in conjunction with the city and you can read it here.

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Moving day at a row of apartment buildings just West of Barton and Wenthworth

Next we made our way to Barton. We saw a street on the turn around. Although Barton faces many obstacles, we are seeing pockets of growth and investment sprinkled throughout. Many barriers are still in the way, but there are encouraging signs almost anywhere you look.

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Lawanda in front of a post and beam pavilion at Birge Park

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Rocketships of wooden wonder

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The new pool at Birge Park

We cut through some more alleys and streets before reaching Birge Park. This small park just received a makeover, which includes a new wading pool and change room building designed by Kathryn Vogel Architects. The building has a contemporary feel to it with its overhanging rooflines and stucco accents, while the pool is nothing short of functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.

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Karma Candy Factory

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The Galley Pump Tavern. A local favourite.

Continuing north, we passed Karma Candy factory, the Emerald Street Footbridge, some local watering holes, and numerous other businesses sprinkled throughout the area. The history in the North End is deep. There’s so much to discover that you can’t find it all in one bike ride. It would take many. I was curious about everything and I couldn’t keep track of it all.

Then came Burlington Street. It’s a different world. Trucks zooming by. Potholes like craters on the moon. We had to weave through areas like a downhill slalom just to get to our destinations.

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A handsomely detailed early modern office building that once housed Stelco offices.

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POV from Lawanda’s perspective

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Bill discussing the port lands

We stopped by a handsome old Stelco office and made our way down closer to some of the ports. I wanted to ask Bill what his opinion is regarding the future of our Waterfront since it’s a hot topic in this city. He had differing opinions on what Pier 7 and 8 should look like and that more port lands should be accessible like they once were. After 9/11 security concerns changed that, he said, and the ports became impossible to access. I forgot what the world before 9/11 looked like.

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The former, recently charred Hamilton Hells Angels clubhouse (and before that the Gage Tavern) at Gage and Beach.

Before we knew it we were at Gage and we decided to cut south. We passed the recently closed Hells Angels HQ and made our way past more industrial buildings scattered amongst housing on Beach road. One thing I noticed was the many simple, functional, modern buildings sowed about the area. We need to do more to reuse these diamonds in the rough, as many now sit completely or partially vacant.

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Hamilton Moderne

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A beautiful Hydro Electric Station turned office building on Sherman with classical features, detailed reliefs, and ornament

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A swiss cheese makeover at Victoria Ave

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The Repite Centre, refaced by Greg Sather in 2005.

Next was Sherman. We rode past Cotton Factory and discussed its impact, the history, architecture, and the work ecosystem inside it. We also passed some charming early modern buildings on Sherman. I was too busy keeping my eyes on the road to take too many photos, but I certainly want to go back and look at more of what we saw that day.

The tour kept going. It was a long day. 21 kilometers were travelled. Lots of liquids were consumed. I won’t keep you much longer, because pretty soon this article is going to be as tiring as our bike ride. We explored a lot of the city and much of it is hard to retrace.

You know what was one of the best things about the ride? Taking a SoBi bike. If you haven’t yet tried one, you should. They are convenient, easy to use, and offer a better way to travel about the city. Those little blue machines are one of the best investments this city ever made. Don’t believe me? Sign up and let me know what you think. I promise you won’t be let down. And you’ll probably become hooked (like me). I barely even drive my car anymore.

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The Brant Street Pier finally opens

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After a long wait, The Brant Street Pier finally opened in June during this year’s Sound of Music Festival on Fathers Day Weekend.

The Pier is the final phase of the Waterfront at Downtown Burlington project. Other phases of the project include the parking garage at 414 Locust Street, Discovery Landing, the Rotary Centennial Pond, and The Dofasco Waterjet Plaza.

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Located at the Eastern End of Spencer Smith Park, the Brant Street Pier extends 137 metres over Lake Ontario. The S-shaped pier is connected to the park’s existing promenade by a coloured concrete walkway.

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Five metres above the water, the pier’s platform is built on 14 caissons drilled into a bedrock foundation.

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Located along the sides of the deck are LED lamps extending over the walkway and benches without backs, offering different views of the lake.

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Further out (85 meters), the deck widens for a circular node. In the centre of the node is a raised platform that is nine metres in diameter and can be accessed via circular staircase.

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Atop the platform is a 12-metre beacon with an oblong nautical-style structure complemented by rings clad with a perforated metal sheet.

The beacon is made of a tubular structural steel framing. The stiffness of structural steel framing will ensure the structure can withstand the high winds of Lake Ontario.

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The platform not only supports the beacon, but also offers a different vantage point from the pier.

According to the City of Burlington, the construction of the pier was also attentive to the environment. The height of the pier allows the free flow of the water under the platform. Along the eastern edge of the promenade, the beach has been preserved and the project includes providing fish habitat compensation and enhancements for Sheldon Creek.

The total cost of the pier construction is an estimated $14.4 million.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – July 13th

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Modjeska Dock – Pier 5, Hamilton

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July 13, 2013 · 8:48 pm

The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Veldhuis Project is moving forward

In partnership with the City of Hamilton, The Hamilton Conservation Authority is redeveloping a brownfield site along the Desjardins Canal into public green space.

The site is located at the old Veldhuis Greenhouse property that runs along the Desjardins Canal on King Street East in Dundas, just north of Cootes Drive. The area was once home to a greenhouse made famous for it’s variety and quantity of cacti.

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The Veldhuis Project will cost an estimated $3 million, with the funds going towards the redevelopment of the one-hectare property, as well as remediation of the canal.

The project is part of the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s plan to create the Dundas Eco-park, which will be a part of the Cootes to Escarpment Park System. The 1300-hectare urban park will provide the only continuous habitat connection from Lake Ontario to the Escarpment.

Designed by landscape architects G. O’Connor Consultants, the redeveloped brownfield site will consist of a meadow, both an asphalt and limestone pathway, boardwalk lookouts, a pavilion, restored woodlands, and public art.

The only remaining piece of the old greenhouse still intact is the two-storey red brick chimney.

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Due to Chimney Swifts, a protected at-risk species actively nesting in the chimney, it has been resolved that the chimney will remain as a site element. An eight-by-eight meter shaded structure that will resemble a greenhouse – a tribute to Veldhuis – will be situated along the asphalt walkway and within view of the chimney.

Development concept courtesy of The Hamilton Conservation Authority

Concept courtesy of The Hamilton Conservation Authority

The green space will also feature a pedestrian boardwalk against the edge of the canal, complete with a fabric sail-style shade structure, interpretive signage, and ‘industrial’ bench seating. The boardwalk’s design is an attempt to bring the canal’s rich history back to the site for those who walk the pathways and canoe the canal.

Concept courtesy of The Hamilton Conservation Authority

Concept courtesy of The Hamilton Conservation Authority

Along with the remediation of the Desjardins Canal, floating islands for nesting waterfowl will be implemented, as well as restored riparian edges and an enhanced riparian outlet.

On King Street, the two-meter wide municipal sidewalk will be extended and a new crosswalk with painted markings will be added to connect the Veldhuis green space with Martino Park to the north.

One of the remaining challenges facing this redevelopment is the proposal to close King Street at Olympic Drive. The plan is to remove the existing road to create a turtle nesting area, extend the pathway, and add an additional boardwalk.

Work on the Veldhuis Project is set to begin later this summer.

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Province agrees on funding for the remediation of Randle Reef

The province has finally agreed on its contribution to help clean up Hamilton’s polluted harbour.

The Ministry of the Environment made the announcement on Monday that the province will contribute $46.3 million to the remediation of Randle Reef.

Randle Reef is a part of Hamilton Harbour and one of the most toxic sites in any of the Great Lakes. The area is 12-hectares of shale reef which has been polluted by toxic sediment – coal tar – from the conversion of coal into coke (which is a form of fuel).

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Mixed Use Plan for Randle Reef (Photo Courtesy: Environment Canada)

The province’s contribution to the cleanup tops off the funding needed for the remediation of the site. With its contribution, the $140 million capping plan can move forward.

Along with the province, Hamilton will contribute $14 million over a 10-year period; Burlington and the Halton Region will contribute over $4.3 million; the Hamilton Port Authority will chip in $14 million, and US Steel is investing $12 million in a containment facility, as well as a $2 million contribution.

Mark Johnson, a spokesperson for Environment Canada, says once everything is in place, clean up will begin in 2014.

“A key next step will involve the negotiation of legal project implementation agreements among all funders to confirm the details of contributions, roles and responsibilities in the management of the project, followed by the tendering of the project,” said Johnson.

A clean Randle Reef will not only mean reduced contaminant levels, but also some possible economic returns for the city of Hamilton.

“[The remediation] will also remove current restrictions on navigation and generate economic returns benefits during the construction phase and through the creation of valuable port lands,” said Johnson.

John Hall, co-coordinator of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, says some of the things seen since the remedial action plan started (back in 1985) is the exponential growth of the west end of the harbour in the last 10 years, with new parks and new trails.

“We’re going to see a […] continuation of the various improvements that have been made in the way of public amenities for people to visit the harbor, to recreate in the harbour. That will be the major thing, I think, that people will see,” said Hall.

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