Chedoke Lighting Study Diagram Credit: HANDOUT / Ontario Land Tribunal file

A group of residents near the Chedoke Tot Lot say the City of Hamilton’s plan to install lighting along a park pathway will harm their quality of life, property values, increase crime, and as one writes, “exposes our neighbourhood to fringe members of society.”

The three residents, and a half-dozen supporters, are taking the Niagara Escarpment Commission to the Ontario Land Tribunal to overturn an NEC permit allowing the City to install the lights.

The Tot Lot is located within the development control area of the NEC. The NEC granted permits in July, finding the pathway lighting is in the public interest.

The pathway is a connector used by bicyclists and pedestrians travelling between the residential areas of Kirkendall and the Hamilton-Brantford rail trail bridge which goes over Highway 403 to the Ainslie Wood neighbourhood.

NEC land use map showing the pathway as a red line.

The City has installed similar LED lighting in public parks across Hamilton following crime prevention through environmental design principles.

“Lighting of the path exposes our neighbourhood to fringe members of society in an area with a ton of children. Lighting the path allows these folks to enter into neighbouring homes. Also ‘lights’ in an environmental area are a concern too,” writes appellant Aaron Scime in his statement of appeal to the OLT.

Scime resides on Chedoke Avenue.

Appeal Statement filed to the Ontario Land Tribunal by Aaron Scime opposing pathway lighting in the Chedoke Tot Park.

Appellant Jacqueline Winters, who lives on Aberdeen Avenue, writes, “these lights will also invite people and activities that will add noise (sound carries from that area all the way to my back yard) and cause other issues (parties, drugs etc.) for the neighbors.”

Winters writes, “I believe these lights are not necessary and they will disrupt the area and pathways used many animals that cross between the golf course and the ravine (skunks, raccoons, wild turkeys, opossums, deer etc.) as they are generally out at night looking for food etc.”

The third appellant, Chedoke Avenue resident Gabe Crowder’s full statement is short and within the jurisdiction of the NEC, “the proposed use to light up the trail is not consistent with environmental policies.”

Ward 1 City Councillor Maureen Wilson, responding to questions from The Public Record, writes:

“I respect the right of residents to appeal and the process allows for this; however, I fundamentally disagree with the grounds of their appeal.  It is my responsibility to advance the broader public interest especially on matters of health and safety.  This active trail is on public property.  It is heavily used by Westdale Secondary students, essential workers, McMaster University students and staff and residents.  Conditions generated by COVID-19 have underscored the importance of safe outdoor transport routes, either by foot or cycle.  This is a matter of creating equity for users of a public space.”

Chedoke Avenue residents Michelle Torsey and Steve Barrett are seeking to be added as participants to the appeal. They jointly write, “the application for the addition of lighting to the trail is concerning as it goes against the agreement that was made with the city in 2010 following the outcome of the NEC hearing W/l/2009-2010/147.”

They state the lighting is unnecessary, “When asked, our current city councillor was not able to state whether anyone had requested lighting of this trail, rather her reason to request lighting was simply her own election commitment to add additional lighting, even, it appears, if it is deemed unnecessary.”

Chedoke Tot Lot pathway lighting plan

They close their letter, “we would like to deter teenagers and others from using this space for gatherings.”

The OLT appeal file includes correspondence between Councillor Wilson and area residents, the residents cc’d the NEC as part of their appeal filings.

In August 2021, Janis Blimkie, who lives on Chedoke Avenue, wrote on her own behalf and Cameron Blimkie, “we are surprised and dismayed that you would seek to spend taxpayer dollars adding light to a trail that was not welcome in 2010 and that we (all concerned residents who spent many hours in meetings with the city and NEC) were all assured at the time in 2010 when we tried to save the natural habitat from an asphalt trail that the trail would not have lights.”

“The objections to the development plan may seem minimal as it is only the tax paying residents backing onto the trail who will be impacted by this thoughtless decision. No one impacted uses this trail for other than leisure activity during daylight hours,” Blimkie wrote.

Wilson responded, “this trail has become a well-travelled commuter route for our city’s health care workers, students, university staff and essential workers along with many others during all four seasons … Aberdeen Avenue is a “minor arterial” road under the city’s classification system. There are no plans for bike lanes on this street for the foreseeable future and it is not felt to be a safe alternative for most who cycle.”

In response to Wilson’s email, Cameron Blimkie wrote, “I do not want my taxes on our beautiful property to subsidize occasional use by cyclists whose property values and living styles are NOT impacted by this lighting proposal. If it’s that critical a concern for the few that might use this trail in the evening then recoup the cost from them by licensing a night cycling permit or tariff of some sort to pay for it…I’d prefer along Aberdeen or some alternative route. My vote in the next municipal election will have a long memory.”

In today’s statement to The Public Record, Wilson states, “I initiated this proposal in response to concerns raised with me by many local residents. For example, a female resident described how she tripped and fell over a fallen branch on the pathway during an early morning walk.  Another resident reported feeling unsafe in the evening when using the pathway.  The lighting will provide enough illumination to allow pathway users to identify hazards and facial recognition.”

The OLT has not yet set the date for the appeal pre-hearing. The Public Record will report the date, and provide information on how to view the hearing, in our newsletter when the notice is issued.

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14 replies on “Chedoke Avenue Residents Fight Park Pathway Lighting at OLT”

  1. Fringe elements of society? You mean our fellow citizens? NIMBY is ugly – a fancy acronym for entitlement and hate.

  2. Seems like protected bike lane on aberdeen would be the best solution – maybe even a road diet to that ‘arterial’ speedway

  3. Same same, not in my neighbourhood. If it’s a pathway on City Property, then make it safe for everyone. If you’re a longtime homeowner in the district, adapt. If there’s crime, call the Police. If you don’t like decisions, vote differently next election. Everyone needs to adapt to a changing City.

  4. As someone who drank and did drugs in the tot lot in the 90s, lights would have probably made me do it somewhere else

  5. Before I bought a headlamp, it was always interesting running from Glenside into the pitch dark of this path at 6am. The path also gets slick with ice right at the little hill as you enter from Glenside, which seems like a slip hazard especially in the dark. As someone who runs this way daily in the dark it is well-used even at 6am and lighting is a needed change. Great coverage!

  6. I am surprised by the objections to trail lighting. As someone who has lived in this immediate area for over 58 years I offer a different take on it. Some of you may not know that this area was illuminated back when there was a large shed for the golf course lawn cutting equipment – just past the first bend of the trail as you enter from Chedoke Avenue. There was no “official” trail at that time but there was always access and people still hiked across the golf course to get to Westdale HS, Mac, walk dogs, etc.. There was a road (see Ontario Land Tribunal air photo in the article – the road is clearly visible) across the golf course before the trail. This road carried the lawn equipment from the gate at Studholme Drive across the course to the old shed. Pedestrian and cycle traffic across this road was deemed a liability and posed a safety risk (think golf season) therefore the current trail was routed closer to Aberdeen. A “T” box abutting Aberdeen was also moved further into the golf course as a result of the new trail – for public safety. As teenagers we would often go to the golf course to hang out at night. We rarely ran into anyone else and there was never any trouble. We weren’t interested in the adjoining real estate. There was also a kid’s playground there (The Tot Lot) – behind the equipment shed. I used it when my kids were young. Never a problem that I’m aware of. The shed had exterior lighting and there were also a couple of other light standards. You can still see them in the trees on the trail. Both are not working at the moment and haven’t for years. I don’t recall this area ever being a haven for undesirables. And please consider, for those worried about the security of their homes, that lighting is a recommended deterrent to criminal activity, not an invitation. Cover of darkness would be the preferred environment. I, personally, do not feel totally comfortable walking that trail in the dark (6’2 male) but I have done so, for the record. Cycling that trail in the dark presents a safety issue – collisions with pedestrians or other cyclists. Not every cyclist uses lights. Few to no pedestrians carry lights Slipping on unseen ice patches or tripping over branches are also reasonable concerns for trail users. Unfortunately, Aberdeen Avenue has become a high-speed roadway and doesn’t present itself as the preferred alternative. LED lighting that can be specifically directed and dimmed would likely produce very little or maybe no light intrusion into the abutting yards, especially given the elevation difference. Wouldn’t it be best to hear from a lighting consultant first? Lastly, I don’t think the animals living in the woods have any problems with light. I have seen raccoons, skunks and even a coyote walking across area streets at night. And deer have no problem crossing the lit trail at the south end of the golf course – day or night. I was at least one area ratepayer who contacted Councillor Wilson about this matter. I had no idea it would be viewed as a negative thing. Clearly, I thought it would be an improvement. We have different opinions on this issue. We should, however, all be able to express those opinions in a respectful and open way. Let’s hope that happens.

  7. I understand the fact that people may want their privacy – and they may see the lights as a invitation for the ‘undesirables’ into the area- but we need to be realistic. As many have pointed out- these ‘fringe’ members of the community have every right to use the path. Reality is lighting will make it safer for everyone – not only kids but also middle age men (cough cough) who may not see a skunk until it’s a little to late when going for a early morning walk.

  8. deja vu. i remember in late 80’s several council members from the Mountain objected to the city repairing and upgrading the escarpment stairways. the escarpment stairways had fallen into disrepair due to neglect. probably intentional. they were dark, slippery, broken and very unsafe. they started to be used for drug deals, solvent sniffing parties, sex trade, and sadly many suicides. citizens worked with the city to get funds allocated to repair and add lighting so that people could start using them again. this did not sit well at all with several council members and a untold number of but very vocal and well connected mountain residents fighting the repairs and safety upgrades. one council member from the mountain painted a vivid picture of “undesirables” from “downtown” using the stairs to go up the hill and steal everyones tv sets and vcrs. flash forward a few decades and the escarpment stairs are used by tens of thousands of people from all over Hamilton.

  9. The reasons that the residents are taking this to the OLT are absurd. What a waist of everyone’s time.

  10. Honestly, I see their point. The current LED lighting the city puts up is awful and blinding (at least to me). There should be a middle ground, for instance well-shielded amber lights that light the pathway, but don’t shine into peoples homes.

    There is mixed evidence as to whether lighting decreases or increases crime. There is also evidence that light pollution is environmentally harmful and harmful to human health. I think we do need to consider both sides of these issues, particularly since Hamilton has voted for population intensification and lighting technology keeps advancing with cheaper and brighter lights.

    However, it’s unrealistic to expect people won’t use these trails at night. I mean it’s dark by 5pm this time of year. People commute and exercise on these trails in the dark and they deserve safer and appropriate lighting.

  11. I think lighting for this path are a great idea. Mary K has offered a great suggestion to consider the type of lighting used. If it is shielded and a softer light, maybe the 3 residents and 6 supporters that are taking this to the tribunal would reconsider.

    If you take a walk on the escarpment trail, which is illuminated, between the Dundurn bus loop and the Golf Course after dark, you don’t often see teens and fringe members doing nefarious things. In my 8 years in the neighbourhood, walking that trail regularly at night (dog walking, kids tobogganing, etc) I’ve only had one encounter with some shady characters. As opposed to the Big Bear parking lot, where I’ve seen a lot worse a lot more often.

    My point is that lighting, if done tastefully, will improve the safety and quality of life in the neighbourhood and impact the directly surrounding homes minimally. In my personal experience, lighting a secluded trail does not attract questionable activities.

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