Updated August 18, 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.
Masks required in HCA Public Buildings: Buildings such as the Dundas Valley Trail Centre and our public washroom buildings are a part of this bylaw, so please bring your masks with you when visiting our conservation areas. If using disposable masks, please dispose of them in garbage cans on-site or bring them home with you, do not litter in the conservation areas.
Camping is now open at both Valens Lake and Fifty Point, both seasonal and nightly. Washrooms will be available, however shower facilities are not permitted to be open in campgrounds. Weekends will fill up quickly. Camping is by reservation only. Walk-ups are not permitted.
No. Our main office 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. People wishing to purchase or renew their pass may do so by making an appointment. Please call 905-525-2181, ext. 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hamilton Conservation Authority conservation areas are now open, with the exception of Spencer Gorge, Dundas Peak, Crooks Hollow and Webster & Tew Falls. Gatehouses are now operating for visitors to purchase passes or pay admissions. All trails are now open, except those in Spencer Gorge Conservation Area.
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
- Pets must be leashed at all times. Please clean up after your animals, dog or horse
- Pack out what you pack in. Do not leave trash outside of garbage bins should they happen to be full
- Follow all signage as to permitted activities
Trail etiquette is always important, and responsible public use will allow us to safely operate our areas for visitors and staff.
As of July 15, HCA waterfall areas, with the exception of Spencer Gorge, will reopen to the public. The areas reopening on July 15 include: Tiffany Falls, Devil’s Punchbowl, Borer’s Falls and Felker’s Falls.
Visitors are asked to consider planning their trip on off-peak times such as early in the morning or on weekdays. Access is granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are asked to limit their stay to one hour or less to ensure everyone can enjoy an experience in nature. Visitors should be prepared to turn back if the parking lot is full. Illegal parking is subject to fines.
All visitors must follow emergency measures and guidelines to allow these areas to remain open safely. Such measures will be posted onsite and include:
- Practice physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other 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 these areas. Spencer Gorge, including Dundas Peak, and Tew and Webster Falls will be reopening at a later date, planned for September. A reservation system and trail loop will be in place before the areas open to the public.
Members of the public are not permitted on any of these areas or trails and those who access these properties are trespassing. Municipal Parking Bylaw Enforcement staff will be patrolling to enforce parking restrictions and trespassers may be fined. Parking tickets in Special Enforcement Areas carry a $250 fine. Parking violations can be reported by calling 905-540-6000. Trespassers can be reported to municipal law enforcement through the Hamilton Police Services’ non-emergency line at 905-546-4925 or the City of Hamilton at 905-546-2424.
All Hamilton Conservation Authority beaches are open for swimming, although they may be posted by Public Health should they not pass testing. Our beaches are natural swimming areas and do not have lifeguards. An indicator is available on our website, or you can check the appropriate public health website for up to the minute results:
Yes, fishing is open at Valens Lake and Christie Lake, and on the shoreline at Fifty Point, within the Ontario Fishing Regulations.
Group areas and pavilions are now available for limited rental, with the exception of the Powell Pavilion at Valens Lake. There will be a maximum of 50 people permitted in pavilions and group areas. Rentals may not accepted for certain days in the conservation areas, due to capacity issues.
Yes, our campgrounds are open. You must reserve a site, no walk-ins will be permitted. Please note group campsites are NOT open. Washrooms are available, but showers are not permitted to be open by the province.
Washroom facilities will be available in the conservation areas. Masks are required in these public buildings. Some may have shorter hours than area operations, such as the Dundas Valley Trail Centre. Signage will be posted with hours in those cases. Shower facilities in campgrounds are not permitted to be open.
Yes, you may take out your own watercraft. Boat rentals will not be available in the conservation areas this summer. Please launch from the appropriate boat launch area, no boats or paddleboards are permitted on the beaches.
Yes, within the regulations of each conservation area. Barbequing is not permitted in passive areas, such as the Eramosa Karst, Dundas Valley and Fletcher Creek. Barbeques are not permitted at Confederation Beach Park unless you have booked a pavilion or group area.
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.
Yes, passes can still be purchased online. They will be mailed out to you. Gatehouses will be open at Fifty Point, Valens Lake and Christie Lake to purchase. The Dundas Valley Trail Centre will be open daily from 9 to 4. Members can also purchase or renew their pass by appointment at the HCA main office. Please call 905-525-2181, ext. 100 or email email@example.com to make your appointment.
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, if you held a membership during the closure. HCA members who require immediate renewals due to an expired pass may call 905-525-2181, ext. 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com
- 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 of the status of our review and your application. We will also keep you informed if there are any changes and when our office will re-open to the public.