Stop blocking access to Hamilton's popular waterfalls!

Stop blocking access to Hamilton's popular waterfalls!

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Alex Bonenfant started this petition to Mayor Fred Eisenberger and

Waterfall adventurers wanting to get to the bottom are being viewed as criminals in the City of Hamilton.

Hamilton is blessed to have more than 100 waterfalls within the city limits, and gets the well-deserved nickname "Waterfall Capital of the World."

Unfortunately, the natural wonders have recently received more visitors than the areas could handle, and rope rescues, especially at Albion Falls and Spencer Gorge became more frequent, and sadly, there were more deaths.

The city had a perfect opportunity to adapt to the new conditions, such as adding trails, safe viewing platforms to the top/bottom, and implementing reservation/paid systems to control the crowds, which would raise funds to improve the parks.

Instead of doing this, Council restricted access, added “no trespassing” and “keep out” signs, and bylaw waiting to fine you if you’re in a “restricted” area.

Just recently, Waterdown falls got littered with “no trespassing” signs where you could once get to the bottom, threatening $10K fines and not even being allowed to take pictures. Will a first-time tourist to the city want to come back after seeing all of this? No matter how many signs or fines you add, people are still going to ignore them. You can’t fix stupid.

It’s understandable the city wants to make the attractions safer. But punishing responsible hikers by fining them in places that were once legal to access isn’t the way to go.

Restricting access brought down the rope rescues, but came at the cost of the overall experience hiking the areas. Many want to go to the bottom to get more intimate with nature, to feel the mist as the water tumbles to the bottom. This is no longer possible without risking a hefty fine.

While this all may seem bad, it’s not too late for Council to improve the falls’ accessibility for future generations.

Other cities had similar issues to Hamilton, but solved the problem without fines and restricted access.

-St. Catherines is giving free parking passes to locals, and out-of-towners pay for parking.

-Alberta is giving both $15 day passes, as well as a $90 annual fee for Kananaskis County, after a surge in vehicles and people. Rather than restricting access, the fees will be reinvested back into the park.

Both options would work in Hamilton, and the second option is a no-brainer, as it kills three birds with one stone. The money made from fees will help install viewing platforms and trails faster, it encourages residents to walk/cycle to the falls, and in the event of a rescue, the viewing platforms/stairs will make it safer for firefighters to go to the base.

A flash flood alarm should also be installed at waterfalls such as Albion and Chedoke. A waterfall in Quebec City, called "Chutes de la Chaudiere" has one, and there's a staircase that goes to the lower level. 

Viewers will also be less likely to put themselves in danger, as the viewing platforms/trails give them safer access to the best views of the falls.

Hamilton, as well as the surrounding GTA, is expected to hit 10 million people by 2050, so it's safe to assume the crowds will only rise in the future, especially with social media promoting the attractions. The city has the perfect opportunity right now to find ways to generate revenue to improve the parks, and investing in them so viewers walk away with a positive experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown these natural areas need more attention, as many people relied on them since there was nothing else to do.

If we don't demand the city to consider alternative solutions to what they're doing right now, then it's only a matter of time before all the falls have some form of restricted access or bylaw enforcement. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!