You can walk and bike some trails starting Saturday but still have to keep physical distance

Hamilton Conservation Authority is re-opening the Hamilton-to-Brantford Rail Trail, while the city announced the reopening of the Hamilton Waterfront Trail, between Confederation Park and the Burlington Lift Bridge.

Hamilton-to-Branford Rail Trail, Beach Strip waterfront trail among several opening up

Individuals and families out enjoying city parks and green spaces will still have to comply with public health guidance and provincial emergency orders. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Recreational walking and biking trails are beginning to open up in and around the city after weeks of COVID-19 restrictions prevented people from accessing them.

The Saturday re-openings of some trails, most notably the Beach Strip waterfront trail and the Hamilton-to Brantford Rail Trail — along with Monday's opening of street-level retail shops  — are tangible signs the city has begun the long, cautious road back from the COVID shutdown.

Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) announced Friday residents can expect a phased re-opening of conservation areas and trails starting Saturday, while Mayor Fred Eisenberger also announced that the Waterfront Trail, between Confederation Park and the Burlington Lift Bridge, would open Saturday.

But both the city and Conservation Authority caution that using them still comes with the requirement to follow established social distancing rules and limits to group sizes.

The following will also reopen on Saturday:

  • Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail (Dundas).
  • Lafarge 2000 Trail (Flamborough).
  • Canal Park Trails (Dundas).
  • Dofasco 2000 Trail (Stoney Creek).
  • Chippewa Trail (Hamilton)

In a press release Friday morning, Eisenberger also said that beginning Saturday, parking lots adjacent to parks will be reopened,giving people easier access to city greenspaces and outdoor activities.

"I encourage individuals and families to enjoy city parks and green spaces while also complying with public health guidance and provincial emergency orders," Eisenberger said in the press release.

"Playground equipment, picnic benches, sports fields/courts and any other amenities remain closed at this time."

Examples of activities that are permitted in Hamilton's parks in groups of up to five people or members from the same household include:

  • Playing catch, kicking a ball.
  • Letting young kids run around.
  • Walking or running on a track within a park.
  • Having a picnic or playing on the grass, your own lawn chair or a blanket
  • Personal yoga practice — not a group class.
  • Kite flying.
  • Personal fitness — push ups, sprinting, lunges, etc.

Meanwhile, all escarpment stairs remain closed, the release states.

It notes that Albion Falls is closed to visitors and the parking lots at Albion Falls will also remain closed.

According to the news release, Hamilton Public Health Services continues to recommend limiting activities to members of individual households to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and maintaining a physical distance of two metres from those outside of your household.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Avoid contact with people who are ill and their items.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Wash hands after coughing and sneezing.

Exercising and maintaining an active lifestyle is an important part of keeping both physically and mentally healthy during this pandemic, the news release added.

"I am thrilled residents will now be able to enjoy our waterfront trail while continuing to practise physical distancing," Eisenberger said.

"I appreciate the community's efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and their patience as we continue to look at safely reopening additional amenities."

The Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail. Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) says residents can expect a phased reopening of conservation areas and trails starting Saturday. (Jason Young)

Phased reopening of conservation areas and trails

Meanwhile, in light of recent directions from the province for a gradual and staged re-opening of services, HCA says it has consulted with the City of Hamilton Emergency Operations to begin the process.

HCA says all visitors must follow emergency measures and guidelines to allow these trails to remain open safely. 

Such measures will be posted onsite and include: 

  • Practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other trail users.
  • Step off the trail to allow others to pass.
  • Do not gather or arrange to meet friends or other groups.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times.
  • Pack out what you pack in.