Special Report: Walkable Streets

Motion to Establish a One-Way to Two-Way Implementation Team

Councillor McHattie's motion would establish a committee to plan and implement two-way conversions across Wards 1 and 2, starting with Cannon and Queen Street.

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 31, 2012

this article has been updated

Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie plans to introduce a motion [PDF] to the September 6, 2012 General Issues Committee meeting to establish a One-Way to Two-Way Implementation Team for Wards 1 and 2.

The motion would establish a committee to "systematically plan and implement one-way street conversions in the downtown area," starting with a request to fund the conversion of Cannon Street and Queen Street in the 2013 budget.

Members would include McHattie and Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr and members of the City's Public Works Department, and would undertake consultation with community stakeholders - neighbourhood associations, BIAs and other residents.

The motion notes that most of the city's 100+ one-way streets are in wards 1 and 2 but that public opinion is shifting in favour of two-way conversion to benefit local retail business, slow traffic, increase walkability and improve quality of life.

In addition, the 2008 Hamilton Transportation Master Plan recommends several two-way conversions that have not yet been implemented, though the two-way conversions that have been completed, like James, John, York/Wilson, Caroline, Hess and Park, have been successful and have not resulted in any of the predicted negative outcomes.

Following is the full text of the motion:

MOTION

Committee Date: September 6, 2012

MOVED BY COUNCILLOR B. McHATTIE

SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR

Establishment of a Ward 1 and Ward 2 - One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team

Whereas there are over 100 one-way streets remaining in Hamilton;

And Whereas increasingly, there appears to be a strong convergence of public opinion in Hamilton in favour of converting one way street conversion to benefit adjacent retail businesses, slow traffic, improve pedestrian movements, and generally increase liveability in neighbourhoods, especially in Downtown Hamilton;

And whereas the 2008 City of Hamilton Transportation Master Plan included recommendations on a number of one-way street conversions, which have not yet taken place;

And Whereas the one-way street conversions that have taken place (James/John, York/Wilson, Caroline, Hess and Park to be completed soon) have been successful;

And Whereas City staff is generally supportive of one-way conversions, but require strong and unequivocal political support to move ahead with adequate financial resources;

And Whereas, the majority of one-way streets exist in Wards 1 and 2.

Therefore be it resolved:

(a) That a Ward 1 and Ward 2 - One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team be established to systematically plan and implement one-way street conversions in the downtown area, beginning with a project submission to the 2013 budget process for conversion of Cannon Street and Queen Street to two-way streets;

(b) That membership of the Implementation Team consist of the Ward 1 and 2 Councillors and appropriate Public Works staff, and include public consultation with interested individuals and groups including neighbourhood associations, affected residents, Business Improvement Areas and other commercial users, and other interested City Councillors.


Update: If you want to express support formally for this motion, please send an email to Carolyn Biggs, City Clerk, at email Carolyn.Biggs@hamilton.ca - and please send it no later than noon on Wednesday, September 5.

In the body of the email, please direct your comments to the Chair and Members, General Issues Committee.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Ryan also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 08:49:03

and meanwhile in ward 3 the highway continues...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:59:55 in reply to Comment 80261

There may yet be a glimmer of hope. I can see Morelli supporting this motion, if not leading the charge.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:07:00 in reply to Comment 80277

Morelli seems to be coming around to the idea that walkability, transit and complete streets are good for neighbourhoods.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 23:12:47 in reply to Comment 80282

OMG, you haven't bought that have you Ryan? I knew Morelli was good, but....

My god, he talks about intensification as grown kids who have cars and still live with Mom & Dad. If you believe that's the problem with Ward 3 I have trouble believing you've spent any significant time east of Wellington.

Do a report card on January 1st, and let us know how the bike lanes in Ward 3 are coming along. There is a lot of paving going on along King Street currently without any bike lanes. A few years ago it was Wellington & Victoria without bike lanes.

Don't become one of the established media sources recording only the B.S. he spouts, please be different.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:09:55 in reply to Comment 80261

McHattie has been around long enough to know one shouldn't move into Morelli's turf.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:55:21 in reply to Comment 80264

Well I think it's high time someone did. The turf in his ward is somewhat brown. It could use some major greening.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:03:13

Of all the streets that could be converted to two-way, starting with Cannon seems like a bad idea. Queen I can understand, but Cannon?

I was on King st Wednesday where they are doing construction. It was one lane. It took me 12 minutes (yup, I timed it) to get from Barnesdale to Burris (500 meters). I imagine the buses were pretty behind schedule that day.

Edited to clarify that the construction wasn't affecting the timing of lights or otherwise stopping traffic. The only thing different from normal were pylons blocking the other lanes from being used.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2012-08-31 09:04:31

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 17:57:08 in reply to Comment 80262

comment by banned user deleted

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2012 at 09:11:38 in reply to Comment 80305

I've driven this construction zone when it's down to one lane and the congestion is NOTHING. It's barely more than one light cycle of delay. That is NOT congestion. King could easily survive as 2 lanes in each direction along that stretch. In fact it could survive as one lane in each direction plus parking and bike lanes. And not just survive but THRIVE.

Hamiltonians' concept of "traffic" is so out of whack it's turned us all into raving lunatics. Waiting one extra light cycle (or having to stop at one or two red lights while driving across the entire city) is NOT havoc.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:59:15 in reply to Comment 80262

If it were me, I'd start with a motion to convert all north/west one ways. At least then you'd be able to get around more easily. Then attack the E/W once all hell doesn't even remotely break loose.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:06:49 in reply to Comment 80276

I agree with you on your first point about starting with E/W first Sean. Good idea.

I'm going to ignore the rest of the ridiculous comments made in response to my post.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:17:06 in reply to Comment 80262

Wow, who could have guessed that closing 4 lanes of traffic for construction would lead to a slowdown. OBVIOUSLY that means we can't have two way streets, even though one has nothing to do with the other because if we had two way streets you could have taken Main instead of King and avoided the construction.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 18:02:56 in reply to Comment 80269

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 22:13:57 in reply to Comment 80306

FYI site mods, Allan Taylor is back.

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By concerned (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2012 at 06:09:33 in reply to Comment 80314

so what?

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By Layby (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:31:04 in reply to Comment 80269

Bold play. Will be interesting to see if they can win "unequiovocal political support" and resources to match. Otherwise it's a rehash of the well-intentioned amalgamation studies -- an implementation plan that can't be implemented.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:07:57 in reply to Comment 80262

No worries, with the newly paved road you'll be able to get those 12 minutes back through increased speed in no time at all.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:14:51

And Whereas increasingly, there appears to be a strong convergence of public opinion in Hamilton in favour of converting one way street conversion to benefit adjacent retail businesses, slow traffic, improve pedestrian movements, and generally increase liveability in neighbourhoods, especially in Downtown Hamilton;

Wow. Very exciting that (at least two) councillors acknowledge this. It marks the turning point where the opinions of the people who actually live around these streets trump the whining of suburbanites who just like using them as highways.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:15:06

He's a brave man. Cannon and Queen are two of the one-way streets with the strongest utility in one-way form, so he's going to face intense resistance on this. At the same time, they're also two of the one-way streets that really are unfair to the people living around them (Wellington and Victoria are another big two, but those are in ward 3).

Good luck to him.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted September 01, 2012 at 14:25:58 in reply to Comment 80268

Cannon is already 2 way east of Sherman, and there are no traffic issues there. For weeks on and off they were tearing up Cannon street where I work and every day I saw traffic moving. The trucks were still using it, although a tad slower. No traffic was backed up ever. This was with 2 lanes instead of 4.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2012 at 18:31:53 in reply to Comment 80328

East of Sherman doesn't matter since Cannon is mainly a connection from Victoria/Wellington (and thus Burlington St and the Clairmont) to Queen st (to King's fastest region) and York Blvd (to Burlington).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:04:03 in reply to Comment 80268

Cannon is possibly the least essential one-way street in the city. When it was cut down to two lanes east of James, the impact on traffic was negligible.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2012 at 18:29:45 in reply to Comment 80278

Burlington => Wellington => Cannon => Queen => King is the fastest westbound route across the city (not counting expressways, obviously), since King is so slow through the International Village.

This would be doubly significant if King's traffic lanes were cut in half with LRT.

Kudos to the councilor, but there are going to be a lot of people defending Cannon.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 14:12:11 in reply to Comment 80278

I think that you are referring to Wilson St. Ryan.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 14:19:37 in reply to Comment 80297

I meant temporarily for road work - earlier this summer.

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By biscut (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 09:49:06

Bernie is a dinosaur time to have the fossil leave the Hall, along with other long toothed Councillors.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:04:42

Does anybody know the thinking behind Victoria Street being one way between Young and Stinson? I can't wrap my head around this one.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:46:25 in reply to Comment 80280

That whole area needs a revamp. Young should be two way its entire length - what's with that lame one way stretch by the park? victoria should be 2 way there as well. The entire thing is a mess and only works for people who have trained themselves to understand it over time. Newcomers beware!

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:10:30 in reply to Comment 80280

I'm guessing it allows for a left turn lane into the Hunter/downtown area as the rest of the downtown Sherman access traffic continues north to King or Cannon and farther

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By GO GO (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:12:31

No one ever seems to mention Wentworth St and Sanford ave when two way conversion comes up. Both these streets run smack dab past two schools! The transport trucks coming down from Burlington street think they are driving the Indy 500! Both these streets should be two way. There are a lot of kids walking and crossing these two streets.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 12:15:21 in reply to Comment 80284

Just wait for the trucking lobby to put forward the argument that having students crossing two-way streets is more dangerous as pedestrians have to get used to looking both ways.

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By Catherine (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:18:20

How can individuals show support for this?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 11:49:22 in reply to Comment 80285

Thanks for asking. I wrote to the City Clerks office to ask about this, and received the following reply from Carolyn Biggs:

Clr. McHattie's motion is Item 9.1 on the September 6 GIC agenda. If you wish to submit written comments in respect of this matter, please forward the same to me by no later than noon on Wednesday, September 5.

I will then introduce your correspondence under "Changes to the Agenda" and have them distributed to the Committee. Your correspondence should be directed to the Chair and Members, General Issues Committee.

Ms. Biggs' email address is: Carolyn.Biggs@hamilton.ca.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 21:02:42 in reply to Comment 80290

Thanks for that information. I'd already emailed McHattie, and I just sent my note off to Carolyn.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 12:53:53

Top 5 Speed Trap spots in Hamilton

The NMA (National Motorists Association) has listed the following as the top five “vote getting speed trap” locations for Hamilton.

1. The entire central corridor, King Street and Main Street from the downtown over to Queenston Road.

2. King Street West, near highway 403.

3. The corner of Victoria Avenue South and Hunter Street East.

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/2012/08/31/hamilton-speed-trap-ranking.html

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2012 at 20:35:27 in reply to Comment 80292

... really? I've never seen a speed trap at any of those spots. The place I most often see speed traps are Cootes Drive and Burlington Street.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2012 at 13:11:07 in reply to Comment 80292

Of course, the police wouldn't have to set up speed traps on Main/King if it wasn't designed like a 10-lane divided highway.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 23:15:28 in reply to Comment 80293

I've never seen one on King or Main, but I've had lots of speeding cars pass me.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted August 31, 2012 at 14:58:42

Dear Chair and Members of the General Issues Committee,

I write as a homeowner and resident in Beasley Neighbourhood to express my support for Councilor McHattie's motion regarding the Establishment of a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

One-way streets serve the interest of a single group: long-distance motorists. They are detrimental to all other users of our roads, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and short-distance motorists. They make our neighbourhoods less appealing places in which to live, work, and play. They encourage high-volume, high-speed traffic with its attendant risks of air pollution and traffic collisions.

There are hardly any one-way streets in wards 4-15, and the residents of those wards do not want one-way streets in their neighbourhoods. It is time to recognize that the residents of wards 1 and 2 do not want them in ours either. I urge you to support Councilor McHattie's motion to establish a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

Sincerely yours,

John Neary

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By Catherine@WestHarbour (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 11:22:16 in reply to Comment 80299

Thanks for this! If you don't mind, I'll adopt it to create my own message of support.

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By DollHouse (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2012 at 01:22:15

Again, I must instruct people to give credit to Bernie Morelli. He is the real driving force behind Farr and MacHattie. He will make this happen.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2012 at 02:24:54 in reply to Comment 80317

Too humble to effect positive change in his own ward? I suppose it's possible. And maybe the whole multi-term incumbent thing is a form of ascetic self-flagellation.

I kid, but is Clr Morelli so enmeshed in "obligations" to oppositionally aligned interests that he must use a courtier's subterfuge? Was he secretly prosthelytizing for the elimination of radius clauses as well? Where does the intrigue end?

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By GO GO (anonymous) | Posted September 02, 2012 at 13:57:41

"There are hardly any one-way streets in wards 4-15, and the residents of those wards do not want one-way streets in their neighbourhoods. It is time to recognize that the residents of wards 1 and 2 do not want them in ours either."

Just for the record.... Ward 3 doesn't want them here either.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 02, 2012 at 21:17:27 in reply to Comment 80356

It was not an accident that I left out Ward 3. I hope that Councilor Morelli will move an amendment extending the scope of the resolution to Ward 3.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 09:12:59 in reply to Comment 80363

Sorry, but I think that's wishful (naive) thinking John...

Look at Wilson, as botched as it may be just inside of Ward 3 (at Victoria) it was never converted to 2-way. Others have complained about lack of westbound traffic on Wilson. One reason is the last 1.5 km's which is 1-way eastbound. For no reason, other than it's in Ward 3.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 00:13:46 in reply to Comment 80374

No argument from me re: Wilson. I'd love to see it two-way all the way to Sherman. And I'd write to the GIC supporting an amendment to add Ward 3 to the mix, if one were proposed. I think a lot of other people would too.

Has anyone from Ward 3 emailed Bernie Morelli to push him on this issue?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 03, 2012 at 18:56:34

Latest Spec article on the subject refreshingly free of faux 'balance'.

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By Salome (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 10:36:32

If the first DTMP covered 2001-2006, whatever happened to the second five-year instalment? And where are we now?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 04, 2012 at 10:40:43 in reply to Comment 80379

Some background here.

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By Salome (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 12:26:56 in reply to Comment 80380

Wowzers. Kind of a mottled track record on these Implementation Teams, yeah?

At this rate, we should conclude conversion of those 100 remaining one-way streets just before the planet becomes uninhabitable. (OK, I exaggerate: 5 streets converted in a span of 10 years puts us on a path to total conversion by, um, 2212.)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 04, 2012 at 12:30:07 in reply to Comment 80389

The implementation team would be new - a driving force to move the agenda forward. The idea is that the conversions are not moving fast enough on their own.

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By SAlome (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 12:37:19 in reply to Comment 80390

Characteristically Hamilton to develop a five year plan with no implementation team. We've turned the corner!

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By Haruspex (anonymous) | Posted September 08, 2012 at 09:07:53

In hindsight, I would contend that two aspects of this motion made it more problematic than it needed to be.

1. Expanded Parameters

AFAIK, Queen and Cannon were evaluated as possibilities but never identified as two-way conversion priorities in 2001 or 2008, merely streetscaping opportunities -- "Pedestrian Improvements," quite literally. (For sake of reference, the York Boulevard improvements unveiled in 2011 were identified as a priority in 2001.) Whatever your take on the merits of converting those streets, they dd not appear to be earmarked on the city's to-do list (as noted in the June 12, 2012 RTH article linked to above).

It might have been one thing to win consensus on finishing the two-way conversion work the City committed to 4 or 11 years ago, but to position the two-way conversion of Queen and Cannon as the starting point for the coming fiscal year seems optimistic to say the least. Councillor McHattie has been on Council for almost a decade. He watched the two-way conversion begin in his first term, and he watched it stall in his second. And he appears to have misjudged his colleagues' progressive voting reflexes.

2. Contracted Timelines

My sense is that this motion was meant to dovetail with September's Tax Budget Guidelines & Outlook, part of the larger budgetary process. That's all well and good. The trouble is in the narrow window for advocacy and engagement around the motion. The original single-street motion (two-way conversion of four blocks of Mary) surfaced mid-August and was quickly withdrawn, but it was scant days from the time that this revised motion appeared to the fateful vote.

Contrast that strategy with the mixed success that we have seen in recent years even from protracted campaigns like Our City, Our Future (~3,500 supporters for the West Harbour stadium), HEARD aka Heritage, Escarpment and Responsible Development (~900 petitioners from people objecting to an six-storey condo development below Dundas Peak) and All Voters Are Equal (~600 petitioners to review ward boundaries). OCOF was, I believe, a month-long campaign that tapped a debate that had been ongoing for months. AVAE was a 10-week campaign. HEARD's community activism was sustained over approximately seven months.

If the councillors were banking on citizen back-up in this case ("there appears to be a strong convergence of public opinion in Hamilton in favour of converting one way street conversion"), they seemingly did little to catalyze that opinion to make their case hard to dismiss. The option to write letters of support came to light only after it was raised in one of the above comments, and the window for responding at that point was 120 hours, during the time of year when people are most likely to be cramming in the last of their summer escapes. Even though the motion itself acknowledges the need for a home run ("require strong and unequivocal political support to move ahead with adequate financial resources"), this aspect aslo seems to have been misjudged.



This was one of a number of disappointing turns in recent months, but as others have suggested, it was also an instructive episode. There is always augury in entrails.


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By Haruspex (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2012 at 16:15:36 in reply to Comment 80777

"...it’s important to note that everyone agreed — including McHattie and Farr — that it’s premature to talk about converting King and Main streets while the issue of a light rail system is still unresolved.

It’s also important to know that several councillors happily voiced support for converting one-way residential side streets and secondary roads to two-way traffic in McHattie’s and Farr’s wards.

The only real bone of contention was their attempt to precipitously change Cannon and Queen."

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/article/795800--council-corrects-giant-misstep-by-mchattie-and-farr

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