On Tuesday Dec 10th, City House Hamilton and a conglomerate of involved developers, held a public information open house at Bennetto Rec Centre regarding the upcoming Jamesville redevelopment. The large turnout of people, from both inside and outside of the neighbourhood, made it clear that many are taking a keen interest in this exciting residential development project.

For several months, we on NENA’s Environment and Climate Change committee have been advocating for the preservation of the approximately 100 mature trees that currently stand on this property that both contribute to healthier air quality and provide shade during hot summer days. Considering that the City of Hamilton has declared a climate emergency, has a goal of increasing its tree canopy coverage from the current 17%, to 35% within just 10 years (2030) and Councillor Jason Farr’s expression of strong support for keeping the trees, we hoped to hear that many of the trees would be preserved and incorporated into the development. Those hopes were quickly subdued after the developers claimed, without very much detailed explanation, that the soil was contaminated to a degree that all the trees would need to be removed.

We on the committee feel that it would have been beneficial if PML, the engineering firm that conducted the borehole soil samples, had attended the open house to provide further explanation about their findings and confirm the uniformity of the contamination. We also feel, if the City is serious about its 35% tree canopy target, that it would have been beneficial to have the City’s Forestry department in attendance to explain the degree to which these trees’ removal will affect this mission. And what steps would be taken to add additional trees of equal biomass potential. We hope that they both will attend future meetings.

In the meantime we will continue to advocate for the site’s tree canopy preservation and other resiliency and sustainable infrastructure to be integrated into the new development. Features like car share hubs, passive house design, green roofs, pollinator gardens and community vegetable gardens to name a few.

If you’d like to learn more about our committee please send an email to nena.climate@gmail.com or follow @nenaclimate on twitter. To learn more about the Jamesville redevelopment visit https://www.reimaginejamesville.ca/.