The Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls Conservation Area is experiencing record numbers of visitors, and has come to the point the conservation area is simply over its capacity on weekends through the summer and into the fall colours season. HCA is implementing many steps to deal with the overcapacity issues at this conservation area. HCA is taking these steps to manage a situation that has become overwhelming for the conservation area and its neighbours. Traffic conditions caused by visitors to the area is affecting the safety of the neighbours, and visitors. Emergency vehicles are unable to quickly get through the area in emergency situations.
The number of visitors is also affecting the ecological health of the area. Off-trail use and overcrowding is damaging to the plants and animals that live in the area, and poses a risk to the visitors as well. The area isn't able to safely accommodate the number of visitors during these peak periods. HCA has made these changes in consultation with the community, Bruce Trail Conservancy, and City of Hamilton staff, councillors and emergency services.
HCA asks for your patience as we transition and work to manage the conservation area in a way that protects its natural features and to reduce the issues that arise from overcrowding.
Beginning May 21, admission fee changes will take place at Spencer Gorge/ Webster Falls Conservation Area reflecting the premium nature of this location. Visitors will be required to pay a $10.00 parking fee and $5.00 admission per person. Children 5 and under are free. In addition to the updated fees, HCA Membership Passes will no longer be valid for use at Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls on weekends and holidays from May 21 to October 31. Passholders will be able to access the area for admittance on weekdays during this period as well as weekdays and weekends outside of this time period. If passholders still wish to visit the area during these peak periods of visitation, weekends and holidays, the updated fees will apply. HCA membership passes will still be valid on weekends in all other HCA conservation areas, including Christie Lake, Dundas Valley, Eramosa Karst, Fifty Point, Valens Lake and Westfield Heritage Village.
HCA is a non-profit organization, and is legislated by the Conservation Authorities Act (1946). The mandate is to ensure conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario's water, land and natural habitats through programs that balance human, environmental and economic needs. Fees generated by HCA directly contribute to important conservation work throughout our watershed and preserve heritage sites on HCA lands. The costs to operate a conservation area are self-funded, through user and membership fees.