Ontario’s transit authority, GO Transit, was expanding its commuter rail lines, necessitating track improvements between Toronto and Hamilton. The owner of that section of track, CP Rail, constructed a twin track beside an existing track including a new railway bridge over the DesJardins Canal. The canal connects Lake Ontario’s Burlington Bay and Cootes Paradise, a designated conservation area owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens. Cootes Paradise is a shallow lake of roughly 650 acres and is part of the Spencer Creek Watershed. Royal Botanical Gardens has slowly been winning the battle to restore the area as a cattail marsh.
“Most of it is less than a meter deep,” Royal Botanical Gardens Plant Biologist Justice Benkhysen said. “Perhaps 10 or 15 percent is covered with emergent plants. That percentage was almost 100 percent circa 1920.”
Several hundred thousand canoeists, skiers, ice skaters and hikers enjoy the area free of charge each year, and festivals are held on adjacent grounds.