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Historian Matthew Gandy argues that our concept of nature is both a “biophysical fabric” and a cultural construct. The biophysical fabric is the ecosystem. Cultures construct worldviews based upon common beliefs, and those worldviews allow, or disallow, certain actions in harmony with, or against, nature. Gandy states that nature and natural processes played a role in shaping the development of cities, but they also were impacted by human conceptions of nature. On these trails we have seen how two different cultures looked at, and interacted with, nature. Noulan Cauchon, a pre-eminent Canadian urban planner, represents one of these conceptions when he produced a grandiose city plan that featured garden suburbs, high-speed electric commuter railway, and a boulevard from the escarpment to the bay below. Cauchon conceived of “wilder and freer” parks as an area that “allowed access to the unsullied realm of nature for citizens bound up in the urban realm of culture.” His bias was that he thought that culture only existed in the city. The Indigenous peoples of this area have an earth-centered culture that respects the biophysical fabric as the sacred web of life.(Source: Noulan Cauchon Papers. National Archives of Canada, Ottawa (NAC). MG 30 v.1 f.38 Reconnaissance Report on Development of Hamilton, October 1917, 68; “How Hamilton Might Become Beautiful,” Herald, 4 August 1917; Brian Henley, “Cauchon Had Unique Vision for Hamilton,” Spectator, 26 April 1997.)

City Planning

“In 1947, with apparent concern about the environmental hazards associated with a wartime industrial boom, town planner E. G. Faludi created a master plan for the port city of Hamilton, Ontario, a place affectionately known as “Steeltown.” Faludi’s plan was to undergird Hamilton’s first comprehensive zoning regulations. It aimed to isolate residential districts from industry by designating existing neighborhood areas as “declining,” “blighted,” and “slum,” while identifying appropriate locations for the placement of “light,” “heavy,” and “obnoxious” industries.” (E. G. Faludi, A Master Plan for the Development of the City of Hamilton (Hamilton: City Planning Committee, 1947)

Faludi concluded that 26% of Hamilton’s neighborhoods were sound, 49% were declining, and 26% were blighted. In all, 352 acres of blighted residential areas and more than 1,000 acres of nearby vacant land would become zoned for industrial use. In his plan, the “natural” zones were pushed to the outer edges of the city or would be artificially-crafted parks.

“From the first years of Hamilton’s rise as a major industrial port city, both private and public decision-making had created environmental inequalities for the city’s residents. Throughout the twentieth century, town planners like Faludi had repeatedly promised to make the city’s growth more orderly and attractive, yet their initiatives did not solve the environmental and social problems caused by the city’s urban growth and industrial development. . . The environmental costs and benefits of urban and industrial growth were not equally shared or agreed upon by all who lived there.” (Ken Cruikshank Nancy B. Bouchier. “Blighted Areas And Obnoxious Industries: Constructing Environmental Inequality On An Industrial Waterfront, Hamilton, Ontario, 1890–1960”)

This meant that some areas were sacrificed to industry. The landfills can be seen as such areas. Once an area where ancient Indigenous cultures thrived, the Valley became an industrial waste land. The Red Hill Valley project has attempted to restore the cultural viability of this area.