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Conservation Halton invests in climate resiliency through restored wetlands in Hamilton

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HAMILTON—Conservation Halton (CH) broke ground for Phase 2 of the Flamborough Centre Park restoration project on August 12, 2021. In partnership with the City of Hamilton, with support by the Province of Ontario, the Greenbelt Foundation, and Ducks Unlimited Canada, Phase 2 will see 2 hectares (4.9 acres) of the park transformed from a former underutilized sports field into marsh and swamp ecosystems.

During construction, the site will undergo a series of noticeable changes. One of the main priorities of this wetland restoration project is to increase the storage capacity and groundwater recharge, increasing climate resiliency in the area. To achieve this goal, over 700 cubic metres of soil will be removed from site while biochar will be added to the wetland’s soil to increase habitat for beneficial microbes that will improve water quality. Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that is very stable and locks carbon in the soil without decomposing.

Prior to restoration efforts that began in September 2020 during Phase 1 of the project, the field was previously not used by the public because it was always too wet. The wet conditions are the result of naturally high groundwater levels and made the area a good candidate for a wetland restoration project.

“As the City Councillor for Waterdown and Flamborough, the restoration work in this park is very welcome in our community. Prior to restoration efforts, residents weren’t able to get much use out of the park,” said Councillor Judi Partridge, Ward 15 Flamborough. “I am very pleased that with the restoration work completed in Phase 1, and the start of Phase 2, not only do residents have access to much needed public greenspace, but they have better protection against flooding in the area. This will benefit residents and families for years to come.”

“I commend Conservation Halton for initiating this project which has converted a former sports field into a restored marsh ecosystem,” said Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook. “The benefits to plants, trees, animals and the overall environment are immeasurable.”

Once the restoration works have been completed in fall 2021, over 3,200 native species of trees, shrubs and wetland plants will have been installed throughout Phase 1 and 2. These native plantings will further reduce local flooding impacts through the process of evapotranspiration (e.g. the release of water vapor by plants into the atmosphere). In addition to the native plants, the Flamborough wetland restoration project successfully diverted hundreds of hazard trees that had been removed from sites in the watershed where they would have been chipped. Instead, this woody material is now incorporated throughout both phases as 70+ habitat features which will store nutrients and hold moisture.

“As we continue to live through the pandemic, while also witnessing the catastrophic effects that climate change is having across the world, it is more important than ever to have access to protected public greenspace,” said Hassaan Basit, President and CEO, Conservation Halton. “The restoration works at Flamborough Centre Park are an excellent example of a project that provides the community with better access to nature, while leveraging natural assets to help us strengthen climate resiliency.”

Estimates suggest that the coverage of wetlands in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe has been reduced by 85%, however, the efforts being made by CH and its partners to restore these critical ecosystems continues to push the needle in the right direction one project at a time.

For more information visit www.conservationhalton.ca/flamborough

Quick Facts

  • CH will restore total of 2 hectares of wetland habitat—the equivalent of an 800-car parking lot
  • 3,000+ native wetland plants, trees and shrubs will be planted
  • 70+ wildlife habitat structures will be installed
  • The project was permitted and regulated under the Conservation Authorities Act and Fisheries Act

This project has received funding support from the Government of Ontario and the Greenbelt Foundation. Such support does not indicate endorsement by the Government of Ontario of the contents of this material.