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Newest link in Cootes to Escarpment chain makes Hamilton “naturally connected” — Hamilton Community Foundation 
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I have found in my work with landscape painting a very interesting phenomena. I find that a location, while the image seems like it could be anywhere, is so recognizable to the people of the area. Our landscape is precious to us. Cootes Paradise is a refuge and a resource that I am honoured to have translated into my language of colour, shape and light. I ‘own’ it now. Just like Hamiltonians do too. Julia Veenstra, Artist

Buying property, they say, is all about location—especially when it comes to the purchase of two critical pieces of land in the Dundas Valley, made possible by Hamilton Community Foundation.

The properties sit in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System, an ongoing initiative to protect, connect and restore more than 9,600 acres of some of Canada’s most biologically diverse land. The two properties, both located in the Pleasant View area, now create a protected wildlife corridor stretching from marsh to Mountain.

“These two properties were the key to everything,” says Jen Baker, land securement coordinator for the EcoPark System. “We wanted them for years. Now there’s a permanent dark green link between Cootes and the escarpment.”

Both properties are nesting sites for endangered birds and home to wild plants. “They are significant both in terms of the role they play in the landscape and the habitat they provide,” Jen says.

The EcoPark System’s partner organizations had enough funds to buy one property and had been told the second would have a year-long closing, giving them time to raise the extra money. Suddenly the game changed: they would have to purchase both properties at once. That’s where HCF came in.

The Foundation stepped up with support on a number of fronts. A grant from the Frank Charles Miller Fund helped buy the first property, and the Heather and Ross Hamlin Fund not only provided a grant to help with the land purchase but is also offering another $150,000 to match funds raised from individuals in the community. The Foundation also provided a loan through its Hamilton Community Investment Fund.

“The whole deal would have fallen through without HCF,” Jen says. “We might have been able to go back to the table at some point, but it would have put the whole project in jeopardy for an indefinite period of time.”

“This project is not only exciting because of the land it protects,” says Annette Aquin, HCF’s Executive Vice-President of Finance and Operations. “It also uses HCF’s full complement of resources to drive positive change. When the loan is repaid the money will be directed to other important projects and the interest will be used for future granting. It’s really a win-win for Hamilton.”

 

Excerpt from 2016 Annual Report