Author’s Note: This is the final installment in a series of articles featuring the Dundas EcoPark Campaign. My intention is to explain what the project is, who is involved, and why the project is important for the surrounding areas.
The Dundas EcoPark can have a significant impact on the identity of Hamilton as a sustainable city. Having such an impressive piece of greenspace in a densely populated area is a rare accomplishment in an era of urban development. The EcoPark can send a message that the city of Hamilton does value natural systems. It is an opportunity to reclaim our natural settings and redefine Hamilton in different terms. Once identified as a steel city, Hamilton can be known for its sustainability efforts and undeniable natural beauty. The EcoPark project can paint Hamilton as a progressive city, akin to New York City with Central Park. With flourishing biodiversity, this sacred space is a special haven that we must support.
The EcoPark can provide a space for eco-tourism, which would generate discussion about the city and encourage visitors to explore our natural systems. Eco-tourism is the responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. Eco-tourism can seem counter-productive as we are trying to preserve the natural land and avoid harming the ecosystem. In order to achieve a successful eco-tourism program there are certainly some precautions and guidelines that must be considered. Through eco-tourism Hamilton could: build environmental and cultural awareness and respect, provide positive experiences for both guests and hosts, provide direct financial benefits for conservation, provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people, and raise awareness to the value of Hamilton. If done right eco-tourism can benefit the community and the environment in many ways. By prompting conversation about Hamilton and recognizing the value of nature, the EcoPark adds an element of ecological dignity to the city.
Greenspaces can also offer significant opportunities for environmental education and nature comprehension. We need to utilize greenspaces as valuable resources and important settings for learning. Students can both learn about the theoretical aspects of the environment and get a hands-on experience. Being in nature and physically touching, feeling, smelling, etc what you are learning can dramatically impact the learning experience. In addition, seeing the nature you are learning about can motivate students to do more to protect the area. Understanding what the EcoPark really is and its relationship to Hamilton could prompt a greater appreciation for the environment.
The EcoPark can serve as a remarkable legacy for our city and is something the next generations can enjoy. This ambitious investment will contribute to a more sustainable Hamilton overall. Not only will it bring recognition for environmental respect but it will bring economic, social, and ecological benefits to the region. The EcoPark is more than just trails, marshes, forests, and wildlife- it is an opportunity to bring even more pride to Hamilton. Having something so valuable and accessible in our backyard should not be taken for granted. Let’s make Hamilton a city that works with nature rather than a city that exploits it.