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My Sustainable Day-Cation in Halton Hills Day 4 – Great, Green downtown Georgetown

After seeing the great work that’s been done on Devereaux house, I was pretty excited to see what was next on my little tour of Halton Hills.  I was eagerly anticipating our next stop, and it really delivered in a big way.

Downtown Georgetown is an absolute gem in the GTHA: historic storefronts, charming shops and bustling streets give the area a real small-town charm, but there’s a lot more to it than that.  Downtown is home of some very interesting features which make for a much greener downtown.

Our first stop on our green tour of downtown was, of all places, a parking lot.  Now you might be asking yourself “Why would you write about a parking lot?” to which I would answer “Because people need to park their vehicles somewhere, and we can do better than just having traditional pavement all over the place.”  You see, most of the surfaces that dominate the urban landscape – concrete, asphalt etc., are impermeable to water.  So when rain falls, it just runs off into storm drains or into rivers and streams.  The problem is that our urban surfaces are seldom very clean, so that water takes with it the oil, fertilizers, dirt and other contaminants that are on the surface.  When water hits a permeable surface, on the other hand, it slowly percolates through the ground, naturally filtering itself before reaching the groundwater table.  the parking lot I’m speaking of here is, in fact, made up of a permeable surface!  Much like the parking lot in Mississauga’s O’Connor park, Halton Hills’ Edith Street parking lot features permeable paving, which allows water to filter down through the soil rather than simply run off into the storm drains.  This keeps the water cleaner, maintains the natural water cycle better, and saves the municipality money because they have less water to treat before releasing it into the ecosystem.  It’s win-win-win.  In addition to having a more environmentally friendly parking surface, the lot is also equipped with high-efficiency LED lighting, and is pre-wired for Electric Vehicle charging stations, making it ready for a more sustainable mode of driving in the very near future.

Halton Hills is installing permeable parking lots around the city like this one, where water infiltrates the soil rather than become surface runoff

Here you can see the spaces in the permeable paving, which allow water to infiltrate into the ground more naturally

From the parking lot, it’s a short walk to the Dominion Gardens Park, which contains the Old Seed House Garden.  The history of the Old Seed House garden is particularly interesting, because up until 1993, Dominion Seed House was the largest supplier of garden seeds in Canada, shipping products all across the nation in massive quantities.  After the company was sold in 1993, however, the property went into decline, and it was sold for development in 1997.  However, due to the efforts of the Friends of the Old Seed House Garden and the vision demonstrated by the Town, 8 acres of the 54 acre site were designated for use as a public garden.

A serene pond in the middle of the Old Seed House Garden

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Friends of the Old Seed House Garden, residents of Halton Hills now have a beautiful public garden in the middle of their downtown.  It’s a great reminder of the heritage of the town, and provides residents with an opportunity to learn about heritage varieties of plants, many of which would have been lost had it not been for the efforts of the residents of the town, the volunteer hours courtesy of the Friends of the Old Seed House Garden and the vision displayed by the Town.

A community garden at the Old Seed House park provides residents an opportunity to grow their own food in the heart of downtown.

The really great thing about this park is that it is so close to Downtown Georgetown, making it a real destination for residents and tourists alike.  From the park, it’s a short walk to the Georgetown Farmer’s Market, which runs from June until October.  So if you have to drive, you can park on a permeable parking lot, walk to a great example of an urban park then go get some delicious local food at the farmers’ market.  Sounds like a pretty fantastic day to me!  No wonder people in Halton Hills are so happy with where they live!

Coming up tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the culture of sustainability taking hold in Halton Hills’ town hall.  It’s exciting to see such great engagement by municipal leadership, and Halton Hills is a perfect example of it!

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One Comment on “My Sustainable Day-Cation in Halton Hills Day 4 – Great, Green downtown Georgetown”

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