Friday, June 23, 2017

Tragic Falls in 'City of Waterfalls'

The City of Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada
is home to more than 100 waterfalls and cascades...most of which are on or near
The Bruce Trail as it winds through the Niagara Escarpment.
Ontario's internationally recognized Niagara Escarpment provides
perfect geological conditions for waterfalls to occur from Tobermory to Niagara Falls.

The most scenic waterfall in Hamilton is Webster's Falls. With its 30 metre (98 ft.) crest it is the largest waterfall within the city. Tew's Falls is a 41 metre (135 ft.) ribbon waterfall...and is the tallest waterfall found in the Hamilton region. Today, Hamilton is literally captioned as:
The City of Waterfalls”...or sometimes “Waterfall Capital of the World”

Last summer, (2016) bus excursions were available to the public and tourists to visit a number of these waterfalls. The most popular are Webster's Falls, The Devil's Punchbowl, Chedoke Falls, Albion Falls, Tiffany Falls and Tew's Falls. Already, the 2017 season has begun.

More Visitors ~ More Tragic Falls
A large colour photo shows a man peering over the edge of Albion Falls...a day after a visitor to the east mountain park died. Two others were rescued after falling down. Risky behaviour is highly discouraged by public officials Another photo shows a young woman who has climbed ledge by ledge and standing in the waters tumbling over the rocks. The following are possible solutions the city is considering: More signs warning visitors of steep drops...use stairways at your own councilor suggested multi-lingual signs and possibly hand-out pamphlets...$35 fines for illegal roadside parking...possibly more fencing...rescue fees.

Firefighters Save Woman at Albion Falls Rope Rescue
Emergency crews were called to their first 'rope rescue' of the spring on a Saturday afternoon...another woman fell at Albion Falls...falling about 3 to 4 metres just before 2 pm. Crews transported her out on a backboard and then transported her to hospital.
Rope Rescues spiked at Hamilton's waterfalls last year.
Emergency crews performed 25 'rope rescues' at city waterfalls in 2016
(the largest number in 7 years...and it appears this problem will appear again in 2017).”

Despite signs of Danger at all Hamilton's waterfalls, there are risk-takers who ignore the signage at these falls and of nearby trails...or create their own paths which land them in difficulties and need HELP! Will this year be a replica of what occurred last year such as: Man killed at Albion Falls while taking photograph. (he was a Toronto-based photographer)? 16th rope-rescue came from Tew's Falls, Saturday. (Officials are struggling to keep the escarpment pristine and safe for hikers.)
Rope Rescues conducted at Tew's Falls and Webster's Falls
are the most common...followed by The Devil's Punchbowl and Albion Falls.
Tree branch saves man who fell at Tew's Falls...Crews rescue woman who tumbled 25 metres at Tew's Falls...Man dead after falling over waterfall, Sunday, July 17, June, a 25-year-old man from Toronto. Ontario died falling into The Devil's Punchbowl...In February, 21-year-old Corey Dixon was with friends at the falls when he slipped on ice and fell 12 metres breaking his back and several bones. Shortly after the accident, Dixon urged city official to consider 'better fencing' around the falls.
(So, his statement implies there was fencing...and he ignored it!

Woman Who Died at Mount Nemo Was Hiking Unmarked Trail
(Although not in Hamilton, this occurred only a few weeks ago in North Burlington.)
A Toronto-area woman who died at Mount Nemo after plunging off a cliff had been hiking on an unmarked trail on private property. Administration Officer, Ken Phillips said, “It highlights the dangers of going off trails marked by Conservation Halton ~ which manages the Mount Nemo and other conservation areas such as Rattlesnake Point and Kelso. There's clear signage as you enter all our parks to always stay on a marked trail.” Mount Nemo is a 169 hectare park near Guelph Line. The 42-year-old North York woman was out hiking with some friends late Sunday afternoon in the park, long after closing time. This area is also Escarpment Country!


Tragic Falls ~ Risky Behaviour!
When reading media captions: Fire Forces Evacuation...Crash Forces Evacuation...Gun Violence in School Forces Evacuation...we become alarmed; however, a recent local caption is becoming habitual...and creates a severe problem. As suggested in The Spectator's recent article by Matt Vandongen, he states, re Signs about 'steep drops' (referring to Albion Falls and other waterfall sites) that perhaps 'shock signs' should be installed listing the number of falling deaths.

I comment that MORE SIGNAGE IS NOT THE SOLUTION! Like sending an unruly child to his room or to stand in the corner, time and time and time again, which does not produce the needed effect...thus, a different game-change to the rope-rescue dilemma, is additional signage will also be ignored! It is obvious that present danger signs have no impact whatsoever on risk-takers because they consider themselves to be invincible! Petty crimes such as road work signs, stop signs at intersections, speed limits, thefts, underwater currents, distracted driving devices, roads closed...any kind of risky behaviour presents ideal opportunity to challenge themselves...regardless of 'notices'. The photos posted in The Spec of the recent 3-person incident at Albion Falls (where 1 died and 2 injured requiring 'rope rescue' ) will not deter these risk-takers. Their concept is, “It'll never happen to me!” And the opportunity to challenge themselves and where success is absolutely foremost in their minds ~ they are totally unconcerned about the dangers at risk.

Re Proposed Fencing: One time when taking visitors to Tew's Falls in Greensville, although there was obvious danger signage and a spacious viewing platform, I noticed an adult male stepping over the fencing to stand at the precipice of the highest 'ribbon waterfall' in the region; at 41 metres high, it falls into the deep gorge of Dundas Valley. So, fencing is not much of a deterrent!

Re: Rescue Fees: I believe these are mandatory for those who determinedly bypass the signs attempting to climb-up or climb-down to rocky them it's an enticement risk! And no one will deter them! Yes, I believe that rescue personnel are needed for hikers who are lost...for injuries incurred, etc.
But, persons who ignore and willfully place themselves in danger, should PAY for the necessary rescues by our skilled firemen, our skilled police, for medical attention...and ambulance if needed.

Re Towing: A good move for those drivers who park in unsolicited areas, thus blocking emergency vehicles and personnel to aid a fallen victim. Said vehicles to be ticketed and possibly towed away and the driver must pay to redeem his vehicle. Parking fees on weekend visits do control vehicular traffic to a couple of these waterfall sites.

I do have a viable positive solution to this dilemma!
Kindly read the next posting of Tragic Falls in Hamilton's “City of Waterfalls” ~ Part 2

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...June 14, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Tom writes: "What an excellent write-up, Merle. They should print it...although the right people don't see it!"