My interest in urban shorelines and its ownership started after taking a walk in Toronto’s southwest region of Etobicoke, and experiencing significantly fractured access. What followed was a metre-by-metre breakdown of the ownership, history, and use of Toronto’s shoreline, which I am now working towards expanding in other lakeshore cities, including Hamilton.
Hamilton’s shoreline stretches from Grindstone Creek in the west to the Fifty Creek in the east. As the crow flies, that’s 23 kilometres from border to border. But the total length of Hamilton’s shoreline is perverted by peninsulas, inlets and a sand bar to twice that length: 52 kilometres.
While a good chunk of Hamilton’s shoreline is locked behind the gates of an industrial port, there are many other opportunities to enjoy the waterfront. So it’s important to take stock of the ownership and access to the shoreline. In an ideal world, a city’s shoreline is 100% open public access, regardless of use. It is an asset and a treasure to be shared. Admittedly, it may nearly be impossible to achieve, but it is a worthy goal to work towards.
- These numbers were obtained by drawing low-resolution lines along Hamilton’s shoreline using Google Maps, and may be subject to negligible fluctuations due to lake elevation, shoreline erosion / shifting due to other natural phenomena, human modifications (private developments, public infrastructure work, etc.), or the accuracy of the map imagery itself. It’s not precise, but accurate enough to portray the broad picture.
- Some shoreline length is accounted for by inlets and other channels that extend inland, and peninsulas hat extend out into the lake. While this may mean there is ‘1 kilometre of shoreline’, it may be only a few dozen metres as the crow flies between connecting points on the mainland.