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Elm Street Naturalization Site

Left: Elm Street Naturalization Site Entrance. Right top: Elm Street Naturalization Site Pavillion. Right middle: Wildflowers at Elm Street Naturalization Site. Right bottom: Gravel path in Elm Street Naturalization Site. Photos: [Krystal McLeish].




The Niagara Region has done a wonderful job of restoring this former landfill into a natural recreational site that compliments the Port Colborne community. This site boasts many trails through grassy knolls, woodlands and around several ponds. The Leash-Free Dog Park offers a safe and fun escape for your canine companion. If you are interested in the restoration of this site, the Visitor Information Center and interpretive panels will shine some light on the details of this naturalization site.


The Elm Street Naturalization Site, located just north of the heart of Port Colborne, was the home to a municipal landfill site from the mid-1950's to 2008. Port Colborne is a community nestled on the edge of the Welland Canal and is an important transshipment center between Montreal and ports to the west. In 2009, rehabilitation of the Elm Street Naturalization Site began with the goal of returning this site to its native form. This naturalization was aided by planting native trees and shrubs in order to regenerate a new woodland ecosystem. Over time the tree canopy will regenerate and result in a woodland area typical to the Niagara Peninsula. This process is well under way; upon visiting the site it is clear that nature has begun to restore itself to its former beauty.


The naturalization process begins by removing the barriers to the growth and reproduction of native species. There are several barriers to naturalization; what to restore, is it possible to recreate the original state of the site and how it will affect the local commmunity. The Niagara Region chose to take the approach of restoring the woodland characteristics by planting trees and bushes in hopes that other native species and wildlife would repopulate this habitat on their own. One major aspect that influenced the restoration of this site was that it needed to provide a habitat for wildlife and that visitors would have an opportunity for environmental education and recreation. Naturalization is an ongoing process, as time goes by this site will grow with the Port Colborne community.


The Leash-Free Dog Park is a pilot project containing two separate leash-free areas: one for small dogs and one for large dogs. As long as your dog is healthy, friendly, and under control, Niagara Region hopes that you will use this site as an opportunity for your pup to socialize and play. Remember: residents are subject to the provincial Dog Owners Liability Act as well as the applicable municipal bylaws when using the leash-free areas. Failure to comply with the rules may result in the closure of the leash-free areas. Your cooperation and support is needed to make this pilot project a permanent element of the Elm Street Naturalization Site and to implement Leash-Free Dog Parks in other parks throughout Ontario.



Photo Gallery



TripClip Audio File

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Click to play or download Elm Street Naturalization Site TripClip (mp3 format).


This destination is also part of the TripClip tour 'Touring Niagara's Naturalization Sites.'


Hours of Operation

Dawn till dusk 



From Toronto:

1. Take the Queen Elizabeth Way West
2. Merge onto ON-403 W (20.8 km)
3. Slight left onto Queen Elizabeth Way (signs for Niagara/East Hamilton/Fort Erie) (51.5 km)
4. Take the exit onto ON-406 S toward Thorold/Welland/Port Colborne (26.2 km)
5. Turn right onto E Main St/Regional Road 27 (signs for East Main Street/Welland) (2.3 km)
6. Turn left onto King St (signs for King Street/County Road 68) (1.9 km)
7. Turn right onto Ontario Rd (300 m)
8. Take the 1st left onto Canal Bank St/Regional Road 68 (3.1 km)
9. Turn right onto Forks Rd/Forks Rd W. Continue to follow Forks Rd (600 m)
10. Turn left onto Elm St/Regional Road 80
Destination will be on the right (2.4 km)

1700 Elm St
Port Colborne, ON L3K 3Z1

From Fort Erie/Buffalo:

1. Take Queen Elizabeth Way towards Fort Erie (7.7 km)
4. Take exit 21 for Regional Road 47 toward Welland/Chippawa/Lyons Creek Road (550 m)
5. Turn right onto Biggar Rd/Regional Road 47 (450 m)
6. Take the 2nd left onto Montrose Rd/Regional Road 98 (7.7 km)
7. Turn right onto Netherby Rd/Regional Road 25 (signs for Port Colborne) (4.6 km)
8. Continue onto Townline Tunnel Rd/Regional Road 525. Continue to follow Townline Tunnel Rd (6.1 km)
9. Turn left onto Canal Bank St/Regional Road 68 (1.7 km)
10. Turn right onto Forks Rd/Forks Rd W. Continue to follow Forks Rd (600 m)
11. Turn left onto Elm St/Regional Road 80

Destination will be on the right (2.4 km)

1700 Elm St
Port Colborne, ON L3K 3Z1



In addition to walking trails, Elm Street Naturalization Site is home to a leash-free dog park. The dog park is a pilot project containing two separate leash-free areas: one for small dogs and one for large dogs.


Dog Park Usage Guidelines:

(Failure to comply with the rules may result in the closure of the leash-free areas.)


- Up-to-date rabies and license tags required
- Leash your dog while entering and exiting
- Keep your dog within sight and under verbal control
- Children under 16 years old must be supervised by an adult
- No glass containers, food or toys
- Clean up after your dog
- Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife
- No puppies under four months old, female dogs in heat, sick dogs, aggressive dogs or dogs that require muzzling
- Use the leash-free area at your own risk
- Niagara Region accepts no liability for use of the park. Parking is for day use visitors only.



Deciduous trees that have been reintroduced to the Elm Street Naturalization Site to aid in canopy cover regrowth and habitat regeneration include: Trembling Aspen, Eastern Cottonwood, Paper Birch, Black Cherry, Red Maple, Sugar Maple, Shagbark Hickory, Bitternut Hickory, Red Oak, Burr Oak and Basswood. In order to create a natural continuous tree canopy over time, this mix of deciduous species have been planted in scattered groups in a planting strategy called 'nucleation'. These stands of trees will supplement the natural regeneration of plants on the site.


Further Information


Hourdequin, M., & Havlick, D. G. (2011). Ecological Restoration in Context: Ethics and the Naturalization of Former Military Lands. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 14(1), 69-89.


Niagara Region. (2012). Elm street naturalization site and leash-free dog park. Retrieved from http://www.niagararegion.ca/living/naturalization/elmstreet/default.aspx


Port Colborne. (2011). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.


Richardson, D. M., Pysek, P., Rejmanek, M., Barbour, M., Panetta, D., & West, C. J. (2000). Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: Concepts and definitions. Diversity and Distributions, 6(2), 93-107. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1472-4642.2000.00083.x/abstract




Ownership & Management

Niagara Region


Free daytime parking


1700 Elm Street
L3K 3Z1 Municipality Port Colborne



GPS Co-ordinates

Latitude 42.925303
Longitude -79.255255
UTM easting 642385.0681119062
UTM northing 4753996.564751806


Niagara Region
2201 St. David's Rd.
Thorold, Ontario
L2V 4T7
Tel 905-685-1571
Toll free 1-800-263-7215
Website niagararegion.ca

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