We shall always have naysayers, those who cannot see the future, and we must abide them and respect their opinions. However, proud cities are never built by doing nothing.
By Peter Hill
Published August 20, 2014
I was in a waiting room recently and picked up a copy of the April 2014 issue of the Canadian Geographic Society Magazine. In it I read an interesting article about commuting. Of particular interest was a map of the Greater Hamilton/Toronto area showing commuter patterns.
Top 20 municipalities commuting to Toronto (Image Credit: National Geographic)
One of the maps shows among other things that most of the commuting in Hamilton is done internally and that only about 3 percent of Hamiltonians commute to Toronto.
What does this mean for us Hamiltonians? It means that transit systems internal to Hamilton are far more important than a system connecting us to Toronto in terms of bodies moved.
I was a member of the Rapid Transit Citizen Advisory Committee (RTAC), which met monthly between September 2010 and September 2012 to review and thoroughly discuss the proposed routings of the east-west B-Line light rail transit (LRT).
The 20 or so members were chosen from among people who lived along the B-line corridor, seniors, those having mobility problems, and others with relevant backgrounds and expertise.
The final 263-page "Rapid Ready" report was presented to, and accepted by, the General Issues Committee of Hamilton City Council on February 25 2013 and is available for all to see [PDF].
The staff and guests who made presentations were asked - and adequately answered - the full range of questions subsequently being asked by others in the community. I cannot think of an objection which was not raised and resolved to our satisfaction.
Unfortunately, comments made in the public forum over the last year or two are clearly reactions of people who have not thoroughly examined all the issues and parameters involved.
Planning for the future is a complex task and requires an ability to visualize the outcome, think of all the things and actions required to make the vision come true, put the actions required in the order to be done and then convince the reluctant and less knowledgeable.
As I see it, all but the last step has been accomplished. We shall always have naysayers, those who cannot see the future, and we must abide them and respect their opinions. However, proud cities are never built by doing nothing. If nothing changes, nothing changes. (Read that twice and think about it.)
When I arrived in Hamilton in 1948, the southern boundary was Fennel Avenue! Just think if we still operated our city's transportation system according to that parameter. Planning for infrastructure looks decades out; we cannot believe that what we need now will do us well in twenty years.
I had a summer job with Hamilton's Planning Department in the late 1950s and I remember surveying Hamilton Drive in Ancaster. I was told that a bridge on this road over a future highway would be needed. That's now Highway 403 and it was built around 1990 - a time lag of some 30 years.
Well, what does all this mean? It means that money spent on the proposed LRT system will do more for Hamilton and its citizens than money spent elsewhere.
The Canadian Geographic article demonstrates the current need and activity. It will not be the same in twenty years!
The article should be required reading (with subsequent contemplation) for anyone having an interest in improving our transit infrastructure, particularly the Mayor and City Councillors!