URBAN (Urban-Rural Biomonitoring and Assessment Network) was developed as a citizen science monitoring program for the City of Hamilton and surrounding areas.  Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser from McMaster University, the Director of URBAN, created this program with funds from the RBC Foundation (Bluewater program).  During the spring of 2010 to 2014, the URBAN team (consisting of Dr. Lyndsay Cartwright (2010-2011), Maja Cvetkovic (2011-2012), Amanda Fracz (2013) and Julia Rutledge (2014)) collaborated with Bird Studies Canada to recruit citizens within the Hamilton region to participate in the Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP).  The MMP uses the presence of indicator bird and amphibian species to assess the overall health of wetland ecosystems. During the same time period, we also created a stream monitoring program based on presence of benthic invertebrates and stream water quality measurements during May of each year (see Stream Monitoring for more information).

URBAN volunteers have tracked the health of more than 23 wetlands and 8 streams in the Hamilton region. Volunteers included local high school and university students as well aboriginal youth in the Saugeen Ojibway Nations (Bruce Peninsula) (see final report for 2010-2015).  In 2016, URBAN initiated a new program of stream monitoring based on amount of periphytic algae that grows in stream (see URBAN 2.0 report).


The overall goal of URBAN is to allow citizens, especially youth in the local communities and in First Nations to experience nature, and to contribute to preservation of wildlife and natural areas within urban and rural landscapes.