Special Report: Truck Routes

East Mountain Residents Painted as NIMBYs

For reasons of health, safety, and the environment, East Mountain residents want trucks off Kenilworth Access. City staff think the residents are really motivated by property values.

By John Neary
Published May 31, 2010

Monday's Public Works Committee meeting on the Truck Route Master Plan Study was the coming out party of the new Hamilton East Mountain Community Association.

Like most neighbourhood associations, the EMC seems to have a dual mission of advocacy and community building. The proximate cause for its founding was to lobby for the removal of Kenilworth Access as a truck route in the new Master Plan.

The EMC had done its homework.

They noted that the radius of the hairpin turn at the top of the access is small enough that trucks must occupy both lanes, interfering with other forms of traffic.

They pointed out that Mountain Brow Boulevard (to which Kenilworth Access leads) is a two-lane residential street, parts of which have neither sidewalks nor bicycle paths.

They argued that truck traffic on escarpment roads may contribute to erosion and landslides, that diesel exhaust has detrimental effects on public health, and that a truck accident on Kenilworth Access could interfere with emergency services' access to the East Mountain.

Most pertinently, they reminded the committee that construction of the $250-million Red Hill Valley Parkway, just east of Kenilworth, was justified on the grounds that it would remove long-distance traffic from neighbourhood streets.

They also presented the results of their own real-world driving tests, which suggested that during low-traffic periods the Kenilworth Access would be roughly two minutes faster than the RHVP as a route from the industrial north end to the East Mountain. (During high-traffic periods, the advantage would likely lie with the RHVP.)

The city's own simulations, by contrast, estimate that travel times on the RHVP could be up to 300 percent longer than on Kenilworth.

While the initial staff report had recommended including Kenilworth as a truck route, the Truck Route Sub-Committee on April 26 instead proposed to remove it for an 18-month trial period.

Since then, the Chamber of Commerce has predictably argued that it should remain open, on the grounds that it is "the only full-time escarpment crossing between the RHVP and Claremont Access." (Is there any truck route to which that logic would not equally well apply?)

City staff warn that removal of Kenilworth Access as a truck route will "force traffic from the east end of the Concession Street BIA to drive the length of the BIA to access the truck route system."

As in so many other cases, network effects and the existence of a circumferential highway around Hamilton are simply ignored.

At the Public Works meeting, Danusia Szpak of the EMC noted that 168 residents of the East Mountain had submitted comments to the EMC regarding the suitability of Kenilworth Access as a truck route. The staff report characterized this citizen input in the following way:

Removal of the Kenilworth access was requested by residents on Mountain Brow Boulevard to reduced truck flows in front of their residences. Concerns were also expressed regarding property values, geological implications of truck traffic and roadway setbacks.

Ms. Szpak pointed out that precisely 3 of the 168 comments originated from Mountain Brow Boulevard residents who were concerned about their own residences. The other 165 came from residents of other neighbourhood streets or addressed larger issues of health, safety, and the environment.

The staff report unfairly portrays the civic activism of the EMC as a case of NIMBYism and narrow self-interest. Unless the authors of the staff report can rebut the presentation of the EMC, they should publicly apologize for their mistake.

John Neary lives in Beasley Neighbourhood and practices general internal medicine at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. He would like Hamilton to develop an urban environment that creates less gainful employment for his profession.

23 Comments

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 01:22:46

The Kenilworth access is by far one of the most dangerous accesses in Hamilton. Even when you are driving a regular car, the tight turns at the base and top of the access and the steepness of the access make me uncomfortable during the winter.

The RHVP was built to have trucks circumvent the city and get heavy traffic off of the streets. Have them use the parkway, because that access is an accident waiting to happen.

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By Rawery (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 02:37:46

Ah yes, the justification that was used to get the neighbourhood on board for the Red Hill Valley Parkway. There were many advocates for the Parkway from that neighbourhood, that got really angry and hateful towards "damned hippies" who opposed the expressway. Don't they feel stabbed in the back now...

I'm sad to see that they were betrayed. Now they have lost the creek AND kept the traffic.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted June 01, 2010 at 07:57:20

They also presented the results of their own real-world driving tests, which suggested that during low-traffic periods the Kenilworth Access would be roughly two minutes faster than the RHVP as a route from the industrial north end to the East Mountain. (During high-traffic periods, the advantage would likely lie with the RHVP.)

This is my own experience: there really isn't much difference between the two routes, unless you want to get to the Linc, in which case the RHVP is the more efficient choice. OF course, if you're a truck driver and intend to drive across the mountain on residential streets only, bypassing the Linc altogether...

Concerns were also expressed regarding property values

The irony here is that keeping Hamilton as one big alternative truck route would probably contribute to driving property values down for the whole city. That can't be good for revenues, can it?

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 07:57:44

The RHVP was built to have trucks circumvent the city and get heavy traffic off of the streets

No, that was just one of the lies used to win support from certain parts of the city. Believe me, trucks are more important than you or I, or our kids.

Wood also argued the move caters to a NIMBY attitude and will ultimately create more emissions from trucks.

Wood, being a rep from the Ontario trucking association.
I had to laugh at this quote from him. It's like these people think we are all brain-dead. This was the same argument they used to repeat over and over in order to win support for Red Hill - highways will allow us to release less emissions instead of driving through the city. Now, he's telling us that residents demanding trucks use Red Hill and our ring highway system will create 'more emissions'.
We're not morons Mr Wood. Sure, the spec allowed his quote to be printed without calling him on this double-speak, so I thought I'd do their job for them and print it here.

The city's own simulations, by contrast, estimate that travel times on the RHVP could be up to 300 percent longer than on Kenilworth.

And then there's this beauty from the city. So, all the talk of how more quickly and efficiently trucks and traffic will be able to move through the city by using Red Hill instead of mountain accesses and Centennial Pkwy was also just a lie??

Kind of makes you wonder why we built the highway if it's so useless and serves no purpose for anyone.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-06-01 07:01:09

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 08:24:07

Most pertinently, they reminded the committee that construction of the $250-million Red Hill Valley Parkway, just east of Kenilworth, was justified on the grounds that it would remove long-distance traffic from neighbourhood streets.

What is wrong with city council? Wanting the trucks to use the RHVP that was built for them is selfish? Uhm, some things justify NIMBY; some things don't belong in backyards. Toxic waste, diesel exhaust, smokestacks, landfill, etc ... are some examples of things that a psychologically healthy human would not wish in anyone's backyard including their own. Trucks just passing through should not spew black smelly smoke onto lawns and patios and backyards. I would call that elementary sanity, but that's me.

They hack up a beautiful strand of wilderness, install a highway, and still encourage trucks to fly through the mountain brow which is now the only remaining green space?

Is there not even a residue of giving a crap about neighborhoods left in this city?

Downtown, mountain, Dundurn, Kenilworth ... we're all in this together ... trying to convince a selfish pack of cyborgs that humans live here too.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 08:41:35

They didn't go far enough in my opinion. The whole of concession street should not be on the truck route. Go to concession - it's two lanes, one in each direction, with on street parking. It is wholly unsuitable for large trucks to travel on.

"City staff warn that removal of Kenilworth Access as a truck route will 'force traffic from the east end of the Concession Street BIA to drive the length of the BIA to access the truck route system.'"

This makes me laugh. They don't have to drive the length of the BIA, all they have to do is head up Upper Sherman or Upper Gage and they'll be back on a truck route - where they should be! These streets are much larger and more suited to truck traffic than driving the length of the BIA.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 08:57:25

You know why they don't really want the trucks on RedHill...right? If the trucks actually use the highway instead of shortcutting through the city, the highway gets congested and good suburban voters trying to commute on the highway start complaining about how RedHill is always jammed with trucks and it didn't really solve our traffic problems after all, now did it?

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 09:00:38

One more thing ... even if some residents are motivated by property values, I'm confident most residents are primarily motivated by public health and quality of life. Seriously, who is more selfish ... the trucker that shortcuts through neighborhoods and (maybe sometimes) saves 2 minutes, or the residents who want to breathe clean air when they are at home?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/en...

The following excerpt is relevant to truck routes regarding pollution impact:

Diesel vehicles emit far higher levels of pollutant nanoparticles than petrol engines.

researchers at Imperial College London asked 60 people with mild or moderate asthma to walk along the western end of the busy Oxford Street in central London, where only diesel-powered taxis and buses, plus cyclists, are permitted. The volunteers suffered asthma symptoms such as reduced breathing capacity and lung inflammation.

I hope they care about the health and well being of their residents (and neighbors) and will make wise decisions accordingly.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2010-06-01 08:05:24

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By another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 09:17:51

I actually saw an 18 wheeler drive on Caroline South, a very residential street.

All trucks off of city streets. Use the RHVE, that's what it is there for. No Main Street, No King Street, No Victoria. Children live on those streets.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 10:35:06

Crazy idea-- property values FOLLOW quality of life.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 11:21:55

The only thing worse than actual NIMBY's is interest groups changing the fight by accusing citizens of being NIMBY's when there cause is just.

Fighting the city is like arguing with a 12 year old, they sidetrack you by challenging a detail and while you're fighting over the detail they sidetrack you again by challenging a detail of the detail and before you know it you've forgotten all about bedtime and you're fighting over what the charter of rights and freedoms says parents forcing kids to make there beds and bedtime passed an hour ago.

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By Following the Race (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 11:28:12

Yes Race To The Bottom, you have it right. Property values reflect quality of life in residential communities, and our various municipal political representatives and bureaucrats were gaga just a few short months ago over the advice of experts such as Richard Florida who said enhancing the quality of life in our urban communities would attract the best and brightest who will drive local economies in the future.

East Mountain residents seem to get the point while our reps and bureaucrats seem to have reverted to old political styles intended to mask past failures, specifically that the Red Hill Valley has not delivered the promised industrial growth on the East Mountain. But resurecting the old RHV debate only leads to a political dead end. The thing is built, and the EMC should be congratulated for constructively embracing NIMBYism.

Here's my question: Why should the Clairmont be a truck route, squeezing 18 wheelers through the narrow blocks between the mountain brow and Fennell Ave, past school crossings and a struggling commercial district? Why haven't truck routes been re-designated to go to and from the expressway system that now rings our city? Why any "through" city truck routes other than the expressways?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 12:06:47

"Why should the Clairmont be a truck route, squeezing 18 wheelers through the narrow blocks between the mountain brow and Fennell Ave, past school crossings and a struggling commercial district? Why haven't truck routes been re-designated to go to and from the expressway system that now rings our city? Why any "through" city truck routes other than the expressways?"

Following the Race, while I agree with you for the most part (especially regarding "through" routes. However, you have to remember that truck routes are not only "through" routes, but they're also the routes that the trucks are supposed to stick on FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE when picking up and dropping off in areas of the city not on the truck route. If we remove too many roads from the routes, then trucks essentially have free reign to say "well, I have to get to Mohawk and Upper Gage, but neither street is on the truck route, so I can take either to get to where I need to go." This is no more ideal than the situation we have now, where both streets are on the list.

What we really need is to strike a balance, restrict the truck route sufficiently that residential neighbourhours are minimally impacted, but have a truck route that is expansive enough that it serves it's purpose: Giving large trucks a list of roads that they must stick to for as long as possible.

I agree that our truck route right now is overly expansive, we have to be concerned about what happens if we go the other way and become overly restrictive. Mind you I think we could easily get rid of a quarter of the streets and not be overly restrictive, but that's my personal view.

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By frank (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 16:21:21

RobertD... alternatively, something like a distribution point can be set up using the much touted airport lands with deliveries from there into the city via smaller trucks. There is no real reason for 18 wheeler delivery trucks on any street in the city other than a highway

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 18:28:46

by the way, congrats to the EMC! I hope they are successful in engaging their community for the betterment of Hamilton as a whole. Kudos to all involved.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 01, 2010 at 20:01:41

Every time I hear the term "NIMBY" it makes a little less sense. It seems, ultimately, that a NIMBY is someone who:

a) Has any type of interest in local politics b) Cares about where they live c) Makes any kind of public statement to that effect.

These days all it does is cause my ears to perk up, since nine times out of ten, people only use terms like "NIMBY" if they have some sort of agenda they want to push through which obviously doesn't have the kind of democratic support they think it should. And yes, some people are bigoted, overly sensetive about their property values (and nothing else), and or just plain old think they own their neighbourhood. Tough. That's politics. And I'd much rather argue with people who have concerns about what goes up in "their back yard" than those who have slick PR and lobbying teams like those representing the Trucking Industry.

If nobody wants trucks in their neighbourhoods, what should this be telling us about trucks?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 20:16:34

Amen. I'm only sorry I can't upvote your comment twice. The nice thing is, the NIMBY accusation is being thrown around so copiously these days, and has been co-opted by corporate lobbyists as you note, that it is starting to lose its power. While your ears may still perk up when you hear the 'N' word, my eyes tend to glaze over, as I know that it's probably being used by someone who is annoyed that caring, knowledgeable citizens are thwarting their big plans. They'll have to coin a new term soon.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 01, 2010 at 21:48:34

NIMBY is the new 'anti-business'.

same hot air from the same bunch of windbags.

It's like talk radio. I chuckled today listening to about 7 minutes of Bill Kelly and hearing him and the callers talk about how "THEY are making it impossible for US to drive our cars these days". I'm not sure who 'they' are. Seemed like some poor strawman that was just getting the crap kicked out of him. Ya, It's reeeeal tough to drive around in Hamilton. I find it more and more amazing talk radio still exists.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted June 02, 2010 at 04:02:25

The Kenellworth access may be a truck route but it is rarely used by trucks. It's just too hard to negotiate the tight turns.

I used to drive that access twice daily and it was very rare I would see an 18 wheeler trying to negotiate those two hairpin turns. The one about halfway up the hill is very tight and the one at the top isn't much better. Losing it as a truck route would be no big deal. Most trucks stick to the Clairmont unless they are lost. The Clairmont was built for truck traffic.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 02, 2010 at 08:33:33

now that we're into the 21st Century, let's rebuild the Claremont for LRT or bus lanes with nice wide bike lanes.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 02, 2010 at 08:55:41

The Kenellworth access may be a truck route but it is rarely used by trucks.

All the more reason to take it off the truck route.

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By frank (registered) | Posted June 04, 2010 at 10:34:06

http://www.thespec.ca/News/Local/article...

Seriously??? Why exactly is there need for an 18 wheeler on New Mountain Road???? Anyone else sick of this?

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By Walter (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 15:31:00

It is very interesting that councillor Jackson vetoed bike lanes through Queensdale, stating that it represents the desire of his constituents.
So the residents live by the car and truck culture. Change this thinking, if not then the residents should accept the "progress" that it brings. That will be more trucks and more cars.

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