Canada — that blissful, forward-looking, do-gooding land to the north — has some problems of its own. In Hamilton, Ontario, a battle is raging over the construction of a multi-lane expressway through Red Hill Valley. The 1,600-acre urban park, which accounts for a third of the city’s green space, extends from the Niagara Escarpment (a U.N. Biosphere Reserve) to the shores of Lake Ontario. A native burial site, it was protected in 1929, and is now home to the city’s last remaining creek — and critters including the rare southern flying squirrel.
So hey, why not build a road through it? Uproot 44,000 trees and reroute Red Hill Creek? The massive project, first proposed in the 1950s, is finally underway. But defenders of the valley are not going down without a fight. They are occupying the land, organizing petitions, and funding studies. Meanwhile, the city isn’t pulling any punches; in December, it sued several federal environmental officials, accusing them of standing in the way.
But even with all the nastiness, it’s still Canada, eh:
The Red Hill Valley Treesit ended on September 11, 2004 when the remaining treesitter, Clarence, decided it was time to come down … The day was Clarence’s 19th birthday and 105th day in a tree. Clarence descended to the cheer of supporters who had gathered to celebrate his birthday. He was then arrested by Hamilton Police and taken to the East Hamilton station. Over a dozen supporters overtook the station’s waiting room while Clarence sat in a holding cell waiting for the police to complete his trespassing papers. About an hour after arrival, he was released. Most of the group then proceeded to take Clarence out for his first “legal” beer.