I HAD the privilege last week to attend a COP26 event hosted by Scottish Canals.

Part of the Glasgow North Smart Canal Week, it brought me back to my childhood and growing up in this part of the city. I’ve so many happy memories of playing in and around the Forth and Clyde Canal with my family during the long summer months of the school holidays. Boarding the Nolly Barge and being pulled along the canal by the mighty Clydesdale horses, fishing, watching the swans and ducks, or just talking with your pals, you could spend all day there. I remember it as always such a peaceful place with amazing views of the Campsies.

But it lacked homes and an immediate community on its banks. The land around the canals had lain derelict and vacant for many years. The flooding which always followed heavy rain meant the use of the land was pretty limited.

Glasgow Times:

But all that has changed. Now technological advances like the Smart Canal means that we have a solution to this age-old problem and are able to transform the way we can use the land surrounding the Forth and Clyde Canal.

This pioneering new system (which goes by the official name of ‘North Glasgow Integrated Water Management’) creates what’s been called a ‘sponge city’ - a term used to describe how cities respond to surface water flooding.  When there is advanced warning of heavy rainfall the intelligent system is automatically triggered to lower the canal water level to create a surface water runoff. The canal water will then be moved through a network of newly-created ponds and granite channels that manage the water in a controlled way. 

READ MORE: Jacqueline McLaren: Heating our homes, reducing the bills, creating new jobs – and saving the planet

Glasgow Times:

This has already been achieved at the wonderful Claypits local Nature Reserve beside the newly-built Garscube Bridge. This area until recently was all but abandoned, a real and long-term blight on our communities in Canal Ward. Now it is a go-to destination in Glasgow, with flourishing wildlife and a great day out for kids, families, and older folk. We’ve really treasured our outdoor spaces since the outset of the Covid pandemic and our ward has some of the best of them.

The Smart Canal is a feat of engineering brilliance that will unlock 110 hectares of vacant and derelict land across Glasgow North for development and regeneration. 

Connecting five sites including Sighthill, Hamiltonhill, Ruchill Hospital, Cowlairs, and Dundashill, it will facilitate around 3,000 new homes and business opportunities for people who will live and work alongside the canal, Glasgow’s other waterfront. 

It is very exciting to see this cutting-edge technology coupled with an 18th century canal network working together in the regeneration of Canal Ward and Glasgow North. What was once the beating heart of Glasgow’s Industrial past is now the focal point for our 21st century renewal. 

Canal Ward / Glasgow North will once again take its place as the powerhouse of the city when we unlock its true potential - bringing our communities with us as we continue our regeneration programme for our 21st century city. 

It’s time for the North right enough!