COVID-19 FAQ

Updated June 5, 2020 - Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Ontario and taking steps as apply to our operations and services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. You may have questions as to how these steps affect you, so we have created this FAQ to address the questions we are receiving through email and social media.

The health and safety of our community and staff is a top priority.  HCA staff will continue to monitor developments as well as provincial and local public health recommendations and reassess on an on-going basis. This page will be updated with new or changing information, as it becomes available. If you have questions that we haven't answered below, please contact us through email or our social media accounts (Facebook or Twitter) and we will do our best to respond promptly.  Contact information for our staff, both office and conservation areas are available on our website.


Hamilton Conservation Authority Areas and Facilities

The provincial government recently announced that as a part of Phase One of the province reopening, marinas would now be permitted to operate for recreational use.

Fifty Point Marina has not yet been in operation for 2020. There is a large number of boats in winter storage, and until those boats are put into the water or removed from storage, daily operation of the marina, including the use of the boat launch, is not yet possible. Winter storage takes over all of the parking, so there would be no places for cars and trailers to park.

it will take a few weeks for staff to get the facilities up to regular operating conditions. This will also include preparing common areas and touch points, including washrooms, to comply with the current social distancing guidelines.

At this time, we are estimating an opening date of June 1, 2020 for our marina facilities, including the boat launch.

The provincial government recently announced that as a part of Phase One of the province reopening, campgrounds could begin to prepare to open, as of May 16, 2020. This would include our seasonal and nightly camping at Fifty Point, and nightly camping at Valens Lake.

Both campgrounds have been out of operation for some time, and it will take a few weeks for staff to get the facilities up to regular operating conditions. This will also include preparing common areas and touchpoints, including washrooms, to comply with the current social distancing guidelines.

SEASONAL CAMPING WILL BEGIN AT FIFTY POINT JUNE 1
NIGHTLY CAMPING WILL BEGIN AT VALENS LAKE JUNE 15

If you have booked for a time period during the campground closure, your booking will be refunded onto the same payment method it was booked on, automatically.

We will be following Provincial directions as we gradually work to reopen all of our areas and facilities to be compliant with those guidelines and public health requirements to ensure the safety of HCA staff and our visitors. There are 4 phases of reopening in our plan, and the campgrounds are in Phase 3 of the plan.

No. Our main office and other buildings and facilities will remain closed to the public until further notice. Most HCA staff are working remotely, but still available to contact through email. We continue to carry out our mandated work, including planning and regulations work, flood control and water testing. If you need to make a delivery to our office, please make arrangements with your staff contact.

On Wednesday, May 13, Hamilton Conservation Authority conservation areas will be accessible for passive recreation only, such as hiking, biking and bird-watching. All on-site facilities (including washroom buildings, pavilions, Trail Centre and gatehouses, etc.) will remain closed.

Waterfall and escarpment areas, including Dundas Peak, Spencer Gorge, Devil’s Punchbowl and Tiffany Falls are not included in this opening due to their limited size and capacity to physical distance. Camping and marina operations will resume at a later date following provincial directions and waterfall and escarpment areas will reopen last.

The areas opening on May 13 include:

• Christie Lake
• Dundas Valley
• Eramosa Karst
• Fifty Point
• Fletcher Creek
• Valens Lake
• Westfield Heritage Village (buildings remain closed)

No. Waterfall and escarpment areas are not included in this opening due to their limited size and capacity to physical distance. They include:

• Dundas Peak
• Spencer Gorge
• Devil’s Punchbowl
• Tews Falls
• Borer's Falls
• Tiffany Falls
• Webster Falls

Please respect the closures for the safety of our staff and the community. City of Hamilton bylaw staff will be patrolling these areas and cars parked illegally may be subject to tickets of up to $250 in the special enforcement areas.

As of May 13, all of our trails will be open, with the exception of those in the waterfall areas, which will remain closed along with the areas until further notice.

All visitors must follow emergency measures and guidelines to allow these trails to remain open safely. Such measures will be posted onsite and include:
• Practice physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other trail users.
• Do not gather or arrange to meet friends or other groups.
• Pets must be leashed at all times.
• Pack out what you pack in.

Trail etiquette is always important, and responsible public use will allow us to safely operate our areas for visitors and staff.

No. The provincial government has not yet lifted the restrictions on beaches. They remain closed at this time.
Shoreline fishing is available at Fifty Point Conservation Area only. Valens Lake is a bass sanctuary until the season opens.

Limited washroom facilities will be available in the conservation areas. Some may have shorter hours than area operations, such as the Dundas Valley Trail Centre. Signage will be posted with hours in those cases.

Yes, you can use your canoe or kayak on our reservoirs. Please launch from the boat launches as the beaches are not permitted to be open by the provincial government's mandated closures. Our boat rentals are not open.

Yes, please contact the conservation area directly by phone or email. Limited access will be made available for trailer or boat owners to either access or remove their property. Conservation area contact information is available on our website.

Municipal partners are aware of the areas that remain closed. Those who choose to ignore the closures and park outside of these areas on municipal roadways may be subject to fines.

If you see people gathering or not observing physical distancing, the City of Hamilton has set up a reporting line at 905-546-2489. To report people trespassing, please call the Hamilton Police Service non-emergency line at 905-546-4925. The bylaw number for reporting illegal parking is 905-540-6000.


HCA Membership Passes

Yes, passes can still be purchased online. They will be mailed out to you. At this time, we are dating new passes for one or two years (depending on the pass purchased) from May 31, 2020.
HCA will extend valid passholder’s expiry dates for the length of our closure. If you renew online, we will automatically add the additional days to your membership. New passes will have the expiry date of May 31, 2021.

HCA members who require immediate renewals due to an expired pass may call 905-525-2181 or email nature@conservationhamilton.ca to make an appointment for curbside pick-up at the reception area of the main office at 838 Mineral Springs Road, Ancaster. No access to the building will be permitted. Appointments will be available Monday through Wednesday, 9 AM until noon, and Thursday and Friday from 1 PM to 4 PM


Planning and Permits

Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Administration Office is closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we will not be accepting walk-in inquiries, meetings or hosting or attending external meetings. Our staff will be available to assist you by email and phone. Staff will also be available to assist with electronic planning and permit submissions.
Please see what you can expect from our Watershed Planning & Engineering team below.
• Staff is available via email or phone. Click here for information regarding staff contacts and HCA Permits and Regulations.. Please email us with any questions. General inquiries can be sent to nature@conservationhamilton.ca
• All submissions can be made digitally, as well as payments. Please consult with your contact at the Hamilton Conservation Authority. If paper files are to be dropped off, please make arrangements with us beforehand.
• Permits and correspondence will be issued electronically via email.
• You can help us by prioritizing your critical needs and providing digital submissions where possible
• Staff will keep the lines of communication open and will inform you on the status of our review and your application. We will also keep you informed if there are any changes on when our office will re-open to the public.