Special Report: Walkable Streets

Vancouver's Extraordinary Transportation Statistics

Vancouver's traffic outcome is the predictable result of a deliberate policy to change the context in which people make transportation choices.

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 30, 2015

While Hamilton struggles and agonizes over the most minimal, fragmentary changes to its transportation system, Vancouver continues to roar ahead. A January 28, 2015 presentation [PPTX] by Gordon Price, Director of the Simon Fraser University City Program, puts some hard numbers on Vancouver's progress.

Here are a few of those numbers.

Automobile Traffic

Between 1996 and 2011, the population of Central Vancouver has increased by 75 percent and number of jobs has increased by 26 percent, but the number of automobiles entering Central Vancouver has dropped by 20 percent.

Automobile traffic in and out of downtown Vancouver is as low as it was in 1965.

In the 1970s, traffic was growing in Vancouver the same as it was growing in other cities, but Vancouver decided to do something about it instead of just assuming (and accepting) endless growth in traffic.

Traffic in and out of Central Vancouver, 1960, 1976 and 2010
Traffic in and out of Central Vancouver, 1960, 1976 and 2010

Vancouver's traffic outcome is the predictable result of a deliberate policy to change the context in which people make transportation choices.

By reducing the number of automobiles on the street, Central Vancouver has been able to make cleaner, healthier and more convivial use of its scarce roadway: wider sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, new protected two-way cycle tracks, and more high-speed transit.

And the improvement isn't just in the downtown core, either. Between 1996 and 2011, the citywide population has gone up 18 percent, the number of jobs has gone up 16 percent and the number of cars entering the city has gone down five percent.

In Vancouver, achieving a healhier, cleaner, safer and more financially viable balance of transportation modes is a goal for the entire city.

Hamilton by Contrast

Like Vancouver, Hamilton also has a goal of shifting the modal split among driving, transit, cycling and walking trips. It was formalized in our Transportation Master Plan, which Council approved in 2001 and reviewed in 2007.

The Transportation Master Plan called for Hamilton to increase the transit mode share from 6 percent of trips in 2001 to 10 percent of trips in 2011 and 15 percent of trips in 2021.

Unlike Vancouver, Hamilton has generally failed to act on the changes Council approved in its strategic plan, or indeed to make any effort to make day-to-day policy decisions conform with the plan.

As a result, Hamilton has essentially the same modal split in 2014 as it had in 2001 when Council approved its transportation plan. We had a 6 percent transit share in 2001, and we have a 6 percnt transit share today.

The City has just embarked on yet another review of its Transportation Master Plan, a process that should bring an updated document to Council by 2016.

Several Councillors are now saying we shouldn't even bother trying to implement any transportation initiatives until we have a strategic plan to do it - notwithstanding the strategic plan Council approved in 2001 and renewed in 2007 but didn't bother to implement.

Maybe we'll finally start doing some of the things Council approved in 2001 after the plan is reviewed yet again in 2016.

Leaders Lead

Here are a few more tidbits from the presentation:

Since 2004, the rate of active driver's licences among Metro Vancouver residents has been falling steeply for 16-19-year-olds, for 20-24-year-olds, for 25-29-year-olds and even, albeit less steeply, for 30-34-year-olds.

More people move through the SkyTrain station at Commercial and Broadway than Vancouver Airport. The SkyTrain, you will recall, is the elevated light rail transit system that Hamilton turned down in 1981 after the Province offered to build it for us.

The Broadway transit corridor - ironically for us, called the B-Line - is the busiest bus route in the US and Canada with around 100,000 transit riders. The Central Business District wants to increase ridership further.

These are the sorts of things that happen when a city's leaders lead. In Hamilton, our leaders are content to tread water year after year, and the predictable outcome is that the city fails, year after year, to achieve meaningful gains.

(h/t to Hugh McLeod for sending along the presentation)

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. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 30, 2015 at 17:14:49

Incidentally, Vancouver does not have a ward system and does have municipal political parties. It has also had a strong planning department that operates with minimal day-to-day interference from Council for over 40 years.

I think the important thing about Vancouver is that they made a decision to not build or widen roads back in the 1970s, realized what this implied, and has stuck on a consistent course of mixed use densification and promoting transit, walking and cycling through many different mayors and councils ever since. The adopted a "transportation hierarchy" that puts walking first and private cars last many years ago and, unlike Hamilton with its goal of doubling per capita transit use, has consistently made changes to promote this hierarchy ever since.

Another interesting point is that Vancouver and Hamilton had similar populations, and Hamilton real estate was actually worth more in the 1960s.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-01-30 17:35:44

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By fencesitter (anonymous) | Posted January 30, 2015 at 19:57:36

No doubt, in terms of investment in transit and livable streets, Vancouver certainly leaves Hamilton the dust.
I do not want to turn this into a urban vs suburban issue......But
What would have happened in Vancouver if all of the surrounding regions had a vote on Vancouver's changes to its roads and transit? That is Richmond, Delta, Surry, Burnaby, Coquitlam and North Van and New West.
Unless I am wrong, Vancouver is not constrained by suburban votes in the same way Hamilton is. Plus they also benefit from transit improvements to GVRD as a whole, which allows them to draw on funding from outside the city coffers.
Still, no excuse for Hamilton not acting on strategic plans approved since 2001.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 09:57:01 in reply to Comment 108609

Transit is actually run regionally by TransLink http://www.translink.ca/ over a much larger region than Hamilton (more akin to GO, but running all transit, not just inter-urban). And transit has been run regionally in Vancouver for many decades.

So, that's one less excuse for Hamilton!

But it is true that the outlying municipalities didn't make the same choices Vancouver did regarding density and roads.

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By Moron (anonymous) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 09:44:24 in reply to Comment 108609

Plus, Vancouver is clearly not run by a bunch of morons.
Funny how great cities can become with actual leaders at the helm.

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By mike (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 18:53:19 in reply to Comment 108620

Vancouver is completely run by morons, fortunately prior to them there were good people. Today there is no consultation unless you want a bike lane through the middle of a park.

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By MissingPartOfTheStory (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 11:23:57

In the 1971 suburban Vancouver had a population of about 1 million, and downtown Vancouver had a population of about 400k. By 2001 suburban Vancouver had a population of about 2 million, and downtown Vancouver had a population of about 550k. That's 2x growth vs. 1.375x growth, and another million in suburban sprawl. I wouldn't characterize that as a victory for urbanism.

And yet there's simply no way Vancouver's downtown could be what it is without a couple million people living outside of it, commuting in, and shopping there too.

When you have big suburbs, you have more people moving on the feeder transit lines leading into your downtown, which helps to justify higher order infrastructure costs. Even people that commute by car to downtown will use transit during the day. Toronto couldn't be what it is either without being surrounded by sprawling suburbs feeding into its subway system.

In many large cities, if you look at one particular suburban line of transit leading into downtown transit, and compare it to a main downtown line, you can play funny with math, and claim that the suburban line isn't justified or that it's being subsidized by the downtown line. The downtown line is where the profit is made, and it subsidies the suburan lines, right? Only without the suburban lines leading into the downtown line, it wouldn't have those numbers at all.

If we want to have a growing, dense downtown in Hamilton, we're going to need continued suburban growth and prosperity to support that downtown growth.

Downtowns don't support suburbs, and suburbs don't support downtowns. They support each other. You simply can't look at one part of the city at a time, and that goes for more than Terry Whitehead.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 12:01:29 in reply to Comment 108627

That's a good point. But the kind of suburban development we should be encouraging should be less car dependent and denser and mixed use. That's not happening in Hamilton now where new suburban development is driven by road building, not transit, is low density and is not mixed use, but it actually is happening in Vancouver.

I was very impressed driving along Marine Drive in North Vancouver to notice that what once looked like Upper James is now beginning to look quite urban and pedestrian friendly with lots of mixed use condo buildings lining the street. Similar things are happening along Lonsdale. Metrotown in Burnaby is another example of a dense suburban town centre planned for and stimulated by rapid transit (the skytrain). It also a good example of forward looking transit oriented developed planned by the GVRD over many years.

Vancouver has also been careful to extend rapid transit to the suburbs and to have a cohesive transit strategy for the entire region. This is very different from Hamilton's "beggar thy neighbour" approach to transit as burden to taxpayers.

But the key lesson from Vancouver is that excellent transit and walkability means you can have lots of people living downtown and lots of people commuting downtown without building new roads or widening new roads. Road capacity is not a limiting factor and is actually pretty irrelevant for most people going downtown since most don't drive. And, of course, Vancouver has had bus/hov lanes, notably along Georgia St, for many years.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-01-31 12:04:58

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By MissingPartOfTheStory (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 12:25:55 in reply to Comment 108633

I agree, we want suburbs that embrace transit and take transit to work downtown.

Here's the kicker though. If you want to convince mountain, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Dundas and Waterdown residents to support policies like the LRT, you can't just talk about downtown, downtown, downtown. You need to pitch the savings and capacity building benefits of the LRT as a way to strengthen the transit system as a whole. If it were more viable to commute from the Meadowlands to downtown, or even from the mountain to downtown via the HSR, then suburban voters could save massive dollars by ditching a car altogether. And by viability I mean service hours, bus frequency, and cost relative to driving (parking, gas, etc.).

It also means allowing for more suburban population growth, without insulting all of it as being sprawl. Every person living in the suburbs is another person who can commute to downtown, shop downtown, etc. And there's a time in people's lives when they want a big house because they've got 2-3 kids.

You've already won the downtown support with your agenda. There is no sense preaching to the converted over and over and over again, dropping the same buzzwords and making the exact same arguments. They've done you nothing to win over the suburbs. People in the suburbs don't sit around talking about the evils of downtown, and yet entire channels (RTH, Facebook groups, Twitterverse, etc.) are filled with angry language that subrbanites are only going to interpret as hostile. And then the suburbs are accused of having some sort of agenda against downtown. It boggles the mind, it's why guys like Brian McHattie don't get elected, and it's how guys like Rob Ford get elected.

What you guys need to do now is talk about how the cost savings of the LRT will enable vast improvements to suburban transit, both for the benefit of downtown and the city as a whole. There's nothing that could further your cause better than dropping the daily vitriol against the suburbs, almost concerning in its negativity and obsession, and exchanging it for a more cohesive view of the city and transit policies.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 12:49:10 in reply to Comment 108636

I'm sorry, but I have to remind you that I spent a huge amount of my time travelling around the suburbs giving presentations about LRT that made precisely the points you would like LRT supporters to make. It just isn't fair to complain without first checking what has been done. Maybe you just missed all the parts about the economic and social benefits to the entire city. People also keep make the point that LRT would allow the HSR to be reconfigured to better serve the whole city ... and the long term BLAST plan is for LRT all across all parts of the city.

And the City's rapid transit team put "City as a Whole" economic benefits at the forefront of their arguments and again engaged with all of the city. This approach is part of the reason Council kept voting unanimously to support LRT from 2008 to 2013. These argument were made and continue to be made.

The "angry language" is, unfortunately a natural result of suburban councillors going against the will of residents and local councillors on issues that really primarily concern a few lower city wards. The anger is directed against the councillors who keep thwarting lower city projects, not against the residents themselves (many of whom don't actually support their decisions). I'm sure Ancaster residents would be upset if the rest of council ganged up on their councillor to oppose an Ancaster project strongly supported by the local community ... but it never happens.

And, to come back to Vancouver, the changes were in fact driven by engaged citizens in the urban core (protests against the East End Penetrator Freeway) ... and I don't recall any serious attempts to "engage with the suburbs". In fact, I don't know of any cases where trying to convince suburbanites (and not engaging in activist campaigns from the core out) has ever worked. All the examples I know of happened from the urban core out.

Can you point to any examples?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-01-31 12:51:57

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By MissingPartOfTheStory (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 13:30:04 in reply to Comment 108637

I'm glad to hear that you gave such pitches in the suburbs. You can expect people to research what you've done, but I don't think that's a reasonable expectation. When you're trying to convince other people of your position especially.

I didn't 'just miss' all the parts about the economic and social benefits to the entire city. I'm talking about the non-stop negativity. Look at the average article on Raise The Hammer, the urbanist tweets on #HamOnt, or the dissidents Facebook group. It's all so negative, almost all the time. Forgive me if I somehow 'missed' all the parts about economic and social benefits to the entire city.

In contrast to downtown, which is supposed to be a daily destination for the entire city, Ancaster is a suburb. You can't (while maintaining a credible and cohesive position) say that in some instances that benefit downtown it's ok to treat suburbs differently than the downtown, but in other instances that disadvantage downtown it's not ok to to treat suburbs differently than downtown. You want downtown to be different? To be the centre? Fine, me too, that's OK. But then you can also expect suburban voters to expect to have a say, and for them to go ahead and have that say.

The angry language is not a 'natural result' of anything. People have agency. They can choose how they react and how to behave. They can be encouraged by leaders like you to behave that way too, if you choose to lead at that level you wish to observe in others. Some of the behaviour in council chambers during the bus lane vote was nauseating.

And if anger is somehow a 'natural result', should suburban voters than not be justifiably angry when their commute is impacted? Of course not. We should, and do, expect them to be grown-ups and realize that a bike lane on Cannon adding a minute to their commute is for a greater good.

Most higher order transit systems evolved out of a need to deal with traffic. I'm sure you can find examples where some engaged citizens groups may take some kind of credit, but the driving need behind these systems traffic. That's why we're going to get Go Transit before we get LRT - need, not want.

Viva Rapid Transit in York Region would be one example of a balanced approach to transit that didn't come out of engaged citizens in an urban core (there isn't even really an urban core). It came out of a need to deal with traffic.

Taking credit, making noise, investing your time in causes, does not necessarily make you or others like you responsible for the end goals achieved.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 13:37:29 in reply to Comment 108639

Did Viva "engage with suburbanites"? LRT is also a result of dealing with a need (to encourage densification and prepare a transportation system that can deal with the high number of trips that will entail).

The problem is that, as RobF pointed out, http://www.raisethehammer.org/comment/10... you really can't win. Either you focus on downtown and lower city issues and are accused of ignoring the suburbs. Or you write about suburban issues and are accused of telling the suburbs what to do.

Part of the issue is that it really requires suburbanites to get engaged with issues. And there seems to be much less engagement in the suburbs, even in local issues (most active neighbourhood associations are located in the "core 4").

It would have been great to see all those suburban motorists upset about the bus lane to show up at the council meeting and express their views, but the vast majority (from both the suburbs and downtown) supported the bus lane. And the Mayor point out that the emails they received supporting the bus lane outnumbered by those against by more than four to one. And many of those would have been from the suburb.

Are you so sure you know what the suburbs want ... and that their councillors really do as well? There are many, many HSR users in the suburbs (especially in the Mountain wards).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-01-31 13:38:32

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By MissingPartOfTheStory (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 13:54:55 in reply to Comment 108640

I didn't claim that Viva "enaged with suburbanites".

Encouraging density is not a need, it's a want. I want it too mind you... taxes are going to get pretty high otherwise with infrastructure costs. But it's not a need, like alleviating gridlock traffic.

Gridlock traffic is often a sign of the kind of prosperity that can pay for things like LRT.

You can't expect suburbanites to be engaged if they don't feel they are part of the conversation, and if they feel they and the way they live are being attacked.

If you think the suburbs want something different than what their councillors claim, why don't you either, 1) run and get elected yourself, 2) find others to run and support them. Either would be more productive than beating your head against a wall every day and expecting a different result.

And I know I may be coming off like, I don't know, a bit of an ass hat here. And I'm sorry for that. It's just it really does hurt me to see what should be a slam dunk, a billion dollars in high quality infrastructure, turned into a gong show. And the only way out that I can see is getting enough suburban voters to support the LRT and to put enough pressure on their own councillors to support LRT (with the ultimate threat being to replace the councillor if they do not reflect that support).

You would need an actual plan, with a credible councillor-in-waiting ready to fight in each ward, not just for the LRT but for a better Hamilton as a whole (with LRT at the backbone of that vision).

As it is now, guys like Terry Whitehead know that if they just take the abuse from the enraged citizens, they'll live to win another election 4 years later. You either need to change that to speed up getting LRT and improving the city, or you can sit and wait until we don't just want an LRT for development purposes, but we absolutely need one for traffic congestion purposes. But that's probably looking like the 2030s.

As it is now, you know what's going to happen right? They'll say that even if the province pays for the LRT, the costs associated with the LRT will be too high (pipes, roads, whatever they need to justify it), and that we don't really need it yet. That's going to be a bummer.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 15:25:37 in reply to Comment 108641

Encouraging density is not a need, it's a want [unlike] alleviating gridlock traffic.

If density is not a necessity for long-term viability, what makes alleviating gridlock necessary? As long as there is gridlock, you know that people are willing to experience it in order to live the life they have chosen. The cost of gridlock is not born directly by the city, but only indirectly through the mechanisms by which gridlock adds cost to those who experience it --- but if gridlock exists, it must be the case that people are able to pay those costs.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted January 31, 2015 at 17:40:05

Urbanism vs. Suburbanism , As a planner I have lived this debate. The real issue is that cities have known for years/decades that, the current suburban model frankly uses far more in services than it creates in property taxes to support those services. There are some Ontario suburbs that buck this trend but for the most part, suburbs using the sprawl model don't pay for themselves. There are some cities that are have produced Neo-Urbanist like developments but they are still very rare in Ontario (York region has a few). The urban/suburban political divide developed partly because we (planners and urbanites) attack the concept of urban sprawl and its intellectual underpinnings but, we have to be aware that doing so is treated as a personal attack on the life choices of the people that live there.

This becomes a real problem not just a intellectual exercise due to the fact that for most cities, the vast majority of the population now lives in the suburbs. To the average person whom normally rarely thinks of urban planning, the negative treatment of the sprawl lifestyle and its problems and perceived evils are seen as a backhanded attack on them personally, because they made the choice to live there and they like it! Whenever the subject of better planning and design for the suburbs comes out at a planning meeting, you can count on a response by a confused, defensive even scarred suburbanite like, "I like living in my house and I am proud of it don't attack me because of where it is and what it looks like"! This real problem is that, people's see their pride of home and community and fold both up with the built form of that community, into a single package in their mind. We all do it! Attack the built form of the suburb and you are attacking the person and his or her life choices. All I am saying it is that during this type of debate it is often helpful to detach the problems of built form and the choice of the individual as much as possible. When a individual makes that connection during this type of debate, the utmost must be made in the response to separate the person's personal choices and feelings from the critique of the urban form.

Remember you may think that its perfectly responsible in a debate to tell someone that, most suburbs don't pay for themselves and when it comes to property taxes produced by the suburbs versus the amount of taxes that it costs to service them that, politicians have had to use other sources for decades to subsidize those suburbs to keep them functioning. What the suburbanite hears is that, he or she personally are the reason we don't have good transit or whatever (pick your favorite subject) in the core and you should not be living there and it doesn't matter if you pay your taxes because it will never be enough, you made a bad life choice!

Many of the designs and built form techniques that may make a suburban home and lifestyle expensive are the same things that they, the suburbanite, have been told since childhood are the big positives (like the overabundance of physical space for example)and the lack of those positive things downtown are why people left the core areas of cities in the first place. Since the vast majority of people live the suburban lifestyle doesn't that make it the right choice? This relationship between the differences in built form and primary transportation choice is to me the core of the urban/suburban problem. Both sides eventually vilify each other so much that, it is no surprise when it comes out into local politics. Compound these issues with the reality that for the most part, (not always but pretty often) both groups have traditionally voted in opposite sides of the political spectrum as well. As a planner it can be sole destroying to know that a project you have been working on for a year or more is going to get killed because, it is perceived as hostile to what should be included in a given built form. It doesn't matter if it is needed or not!

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By MissingPartOfTheStory (registered) | Posted February 01, 2015 at 09:57:34 in reply to Comment 108648

Great comment. Attempts to understand where the other person is coming from tend to lead to more success.

A few comments though:

1) Suburbs can strictly speaking 'pay for themselves', it would just involve higher taxes. Increasing density is just easier for politicians to sell than increased taxes to single family home owners in places like Mississauga. Small but independent towns made up of single family homes and roads with no public transit are able to 'pay for themselves' just fine. The idea that suburbs by the very nature of their form have some sort of dependence on downtown cores to pay for them or exist at all is a fantasy, at worst they would be looking at higher taxes.

2) Density does not support high fertility rates. How are people going to have 3-4 children in a 600 squarefoot condo in Toronto? There are studies showing the relationship between fertility and density: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic...

Cities do not exist in a vacuum. This is another classic problem that you see when people attempt to do evidence based reasoning - they limit the context, and the evidence, to only what they want to see. Anybody writing articles about peak oil lately? I thought not... https://raisethehammer.org/blogs/section...

We've seen what happened to Japan and Europe, the canaries in a coal mine for density - low birth rates lead to high government debts and failing economies.

Without children, who will pay all of our future pensions? Who is subsidizing who indeed...

3) We are not suburbanites and urbanites. We're people that live in different places, at different times in our lives. Many of us grow up in the suburbs, move into the city early in our careers, move back to the suburbs to raise our own families, and then perhaps again move into the city to enjoy retirement. Most people live based on what they need at the time.

It's a very small, insular, and generally speaking very privileged group that has the time and social capital to advocate for urbanist policies as a sort of hobby. Most people are just out there living their lives.

That's another reason why when you guys try to sell this stuff outside downtown it doesn't work. At best, you can sympathize with 'surbanites', but ultimately work from a starting point that you are correct and that they are incorrect, and that you don't need to listen and learn, only to explain and convert. Do you see the difference?

Cities are more like an organism, where one part does something better than the other parts, but the entire organism is better off for having both.

You could come at it from another more holistic perspective. You could recognize how suburbs are better than urban areas - increased fertility for starters. That's an economic boost that no amount of LRTs will replace.

Once you recognize that the other side isn't evil, or just different, but also correct, you can start to have a reasonable conversation.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 01, 2015 at 11:21:11 in reply to Comment 108655

Good comments in the previous two posts: I agree that it is important to be sensitive to people's feelings of being attacked for something that is not really their fault.

The link between density and fertility is interesting, but it is far from established at least at the level we are interested in Hamilton (most of the population versus density studies are comparing countries). I couldn't find anything to back of the claim that low density suburbs must necessarily have higher fertility than more urban areas. Is it even true in Hamilton (e.g. compare Kirkendall and Waterdown)? And, in any case, you could look at fertility per km^2 rather than per woman if you are really interested in urban sustainability.

Also, it is usually considered that most important factors determining fertility levels nationally are wealth and education levels of women. However, the problem in Canada, as you point out, is that developers refuse to build apartments that are suitable for families with more than one or two children maximum. And the most popular apartments/condos are now one bedrooms because the are more profitable for builders and good for investors or as secondary residences.

This has turned out to be a big problem in new dense developments in Vancouver, like Yaletown and Coal Harbour where developers and the city argued against the need for schools and playgrounds on the grounds that "families don't like living downtown". They were completely wrong and the city is now scrambling to try to accommodate all the children living in these dense downtown neighbourhoods. http://www.vsb.bc.ca/district-news/deman... This finally seems to be changing: http://thethunderbird.ca/2013/10/16/new-...

Regarding fertility in Europe, government policies have a big effect, especially those that favour working mothers. France now has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe despite the density of most French cities (even the suburbs are far denser than in Canada). Childcare is largely free from two months to 3 years, and school starts at 3 years with after school care integrated with the school until 6:30pm. Income splitting is allowed for tax purposes between spouses AND children and families with 3 or more children have various additional advantages. The result is that 80% of women with one child work (using the nursery from an early age) and 50% of women with three children work, much higher rates than other European countries. The fertility rate is 2.01, compared with 1.38 in Germany or 1.61 in low density Canada!

So, Canada has a lot of other things it could be doing to encourage fertility than building low density suburbs.

Finally, the question is how to actually get the facts out there on how low density suburbs are unsustainable without making it seem like an attack on the suburbs. How should one (or the city) respond to the constant chorus that people in the suburbs "are sick and tired of subsidizing the downtown!" (have a look at the comments section of the Spec). How does one respond when even the councillors, who should know better, repeat these obviously false claims and attempt to back them up with deliberately misleading statistics?

The problem is that the belief that suburbs are paying for the luxuries and inefficiencies of downtown really does drive very damaging decisions, as we've seen with the bus lane and are beginning to see with LRT or cycle lanes, that make it more difficult to build a more attractive and fiscally sustainable future.

And, democratically, is it really reasonable to dismiss the views of those engaged citizens who take the time and energy to organize, get involved and express their opinions directly to Council in favour of the perceived views of those who can't be bothered? Hamilton is supposed to be the best place for engaging citizens, and that surely means that you should take that engagement seriously when it comes time to make decisions.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-02-01 11:27:49

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 01, 2015 at 15:26:30 in reply to Comment 108656

I realized that saying the creche in France are "largely free" is a bit misleading. Although 80% of the cost is covered by the state there is a charge to parents that depends on the number of children you have (cheaper for families with more children) and revenue (greater subsidies for lower income). And school (which is free) is from 8:30-4:30 from age 3 (with cheap after school care until 6:30pm). It really does make a difference.

You can see the costs for creche (2 months - 2 years) here: http://www.crechesdefrance.com/parents/l...

For example, a family with 3 children who needs 8 hours of care and has an income of 2000 euros per month (about $3000) would pay 141 euros per month for infant care ... extremely cheap by Canadian standards! Even at an income of 4000 euros per month the cost is only 282 euros.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-02-01 15:27:56

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2015 at 21:17:04

I wish the municipal department of transportation would give the preparation of this doc the exact disdain it deserves.

"So, is the master plan for 2016 done yet?"

"Sure, it's done. Been done for years. I just xeroxed the last one. Nothing's changed so why should the document? Oh yeah, you should build a bus-lane on King Street."

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 11:18:02

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

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2015 at 23:37:53 in reply to Comment 108668

Your assessment of main street is not based in reality and I can only assume comes from the perfect idea of one way streets in your head (or from assumptions based on experience as a driver in the green wave). I don't believe you actually try to cross the street.

Crossing at a light is ok (although with turns allowed on reds it's not always perfect).

But there are HUGE distances between lights so it's not always a reasonable expectation to cross at a light. If you try to cross between lights, it becomes almost impossible because after the green wave passes, any cars who are turning on to main from a side street fill in the gap at very high speeds, and they are often crossing multiple lanes while doing so, making it difficult to predict where they will be and when. These people are very motivated to catch up to the tail of the green wave in order to avoid stopping at a red. Because we allow left AND right turns on red, these cars are in every lane.

The only time it's as safe as you describe is in the off hours, when a two way street would also have fewer cars and would be even safer because everyone would be going a more reasonable speed.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted February 04, 2015 at 23:22:33 in reply to Comment 108668

Your last paragraph is NOT true.

I remember walking along the north side of Main Street towards downtown and thinking: "Maybe I'll stop in at Wimpy's and get a burger for supper." I could not cross Main Street because when the light at Dundurn turned red, the traffic turning right onto Main Street from Dundurn made it impossible to time my crossing (five lanes) without getting killed.

Walking down to Locke to cross at the light and walking back to Wimpy's was not appealing. So, Wimpy's did not sell a burger to me that night.

Our one-ways are bad for business, bad for residents and bad for transit planning. Also, if you think about it, how many times have you had to backtrack while driving in the downtown area because of the "efficient" one-way system.

The one-way system has to go.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 14:02:27 in reply to Comment 108668

Surely you must realize that VICTORIA IS THE CAPITAL OF BC! That's a pretty basic fail of Canadian geography.

And the urban area of Hamilton is less than twice as large as Vancouver (which is all urban), not 10 times larger.

No matter what city is compared with Hamilton you'll object it is too big/too small/too hot/too cold/too rich/too poor/not on a lake/not industrial/not a capital/not near a big city/doesn't have an escarpment/too European/not in Ontario ...

The point is not whether there is a city that is exactly like Hamilton, it is whether something relevant can be learnt from other cities.

Vancouver is relevant because they dealt with "serious traffic" not by widening roads, building new roads, timing lights or in any way giving resources to cars (which Hamilton is STILL DOING), but by doing the precise opposite. And they ended up with an extremely popular, fast growing economically vibrant city where traffic has actually gone down. And yet, you wouldn't even accept giving less space to cars in Hamilton, for fear of traffic chaos and gridlock. What Vancouver (which had worse traffic) shows is that fear is unfounded and giving priority to cars in an urban environment (over pedestrians, cyclists, and transit) is precisely the wrong thing to do.

You may not know that Vancouver was actually in an extended economic slump from the 1930s to the late 1960s ... it's recovery really began in the 1970s about the time they made the "no more space for cars" decision.

Your comparison of James S with Main in terms of pedestrian friendliness, I assume, is just satire.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-02-02 14:06:54

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 09, 2015 at 22:43:27 in reply to Comment 108686

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 11, 2015 at 07:10:51 in reply to Comment 108933

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 12:51:15 in reply to Comment 108668

James South is not a nightmare.

James South is much improved since its conversion to two way traffic. Why is it that every street at the bottom of a Mountain access needs to be or should be one way when it is absolutely fine that every road at the top of the access is two way?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:12:41 in reply to Comment 108675

Because the needs of the businesses and people along James South must be subservient to the suburbanites who wish to use it as a highway, obviously.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2015 at 12:22:18 in reply to Comment 108668

Vancouver had to start somewhere. It wasn't thrown from the shoulder of Zeus fully-formed.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2015 at 15:48:47 in reply to Comment 108670

I just realized I got my mythology completley mixed up there. Athena split from the skull of Zeus fully formed and armored... don't remember where the "thrown over shoulder" thing came from.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:25:43 in reply to Comment 108670

It's important to note that the population of the City of Vancouver (excluding the larger metro area) grew from 426,000 in 1971 to 603,500 in 2011 - a 41% increase. Meanwhile, the population of the City of Hamilton (excluding the wards that were added during amalgamation) grew from 297,000 in 1971 to 330,500 in 2011 - an 11% increase.

Hamilton has not done a good job of incorporating more people within its urban boundary, and it has nothing to do with whether we're a provincial capital or any other obfuscatory excuses that apologists for the status quo can come up with. It's because our city has continued to follow the standard postwar suburban auto-centric policy line, whereas Vancouver decided to do things differently.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2015 at 12:15:20 in reply to Comment 108668

"safe"? "efficient"? define your terms. What you mean is "Fast moving".

adjective: efficient -- achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense

There's nothing efficient about our road network:

This is a significant issue for the overall roads program. We should be spending $180 million. We’re significantly below that. We’re not even providing 40%. We have a problem. We have a crisis. There’s not enough money to do all the roads then local roads suffer. To be as blunt as I can, when we have problems with bridges we close them. Roads may have to go back to gravel which is totally unacceptable but that’s where we’re heading until we get additional resources. I know it’s a challenge, but if I don’t address the collectors and arterials, we have a significant problem in the overall program. So it’s as candid as I can be. The roads are failing and they’re getting worse. Thanks. -Gerry Davis

Comment edited by seancb on 2015-02-02 12:16:42

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:03:41 in reply to Comment 108669

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 20:21:27 in reply to Comment 108677

Go back under your bridge, you mouth-breathing psychopath.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 15:34:20 in reply to Comment 108677

I don't know how you can argue that hamilton's roads are safe when one requires several thousand pounds of metal and plastic as a safety device in order to use them. Meanwhile, pedestrians and cyclists are being injured and killed at rates far higher than the provincial average. Hamilton's roads are objectively more dangerous that those of most other cities in Ontario.

Comment edited by AnjoMan on 2015-02-02 15:34:57

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 15:39:37 in reply to Comment 108691

You're debating a psychopath who drives. Pedestrians don't MATTER to him.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 09, 2015 at 22:49:55 in reply to Comment 108692

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:35:41 in reply to Comment 108677

It takes a special kind of psychopath to admit that transit is inadequate and then say more money should be spent on roads instead because transit is someone else's problem.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:11:46 in reply to Comment 108677

Do you support user fees or congestion charges as a means to support spending on roads?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:09:38 in reply to Comment 108677

We need less roads. That's how you reduce the amount of money spent on roads. Fewer roads, and more people using alternatives to cars that don't require so much road.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 03, 2015 at 08:08:10 in reply to Comment 108678

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By sadattack (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2015 at 19:16:51 in reply to Comment 108703

Do you have a patent on "not getting it"?

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 10, 2015 at 18:09:17 in reply to Comment 108713

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2015 at 18:27:32 in reply to Comment 108980

So what's your brilliant alternative? What do you want to do about global warming? How do you want to get people out of their cars? How do you want to cut down on the thousands upon thousands of people who are killed by traffic? How do you want to make Hamilton a real, enticing city instead of just being a post-industrial hole?

Downtown Hamilton can't function as suburban sprawl. It just doesn't work that way. Its current existence is a square peg in a round hole, and that's unsafe, unpleasant, and ultimately unsuccessful.

So the alternative is to let Hamilton be what it was built to be - a high-density city, which in turn needs high-density transit.

So what do you plan to tell your grandkids when they ask why we didn't do anything about global warming when we had the chance?

Just "well, getting out of my car would be so inconvenient".

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 03, 2015 at 13:19:12 in reply to Comment 108703

Since we are a capitalist, market-driven society, why don't we shift the entire cost of the roads to the users?

Price roads to recover the total cost, including policing and emergency services.

EVERYONE would pay (transit, goods movement, emergency vehicles) so everyone would be charged a fair amount, regardless of whether you drive your own car or not. The prices of goods and services would reflect the cost of transport.

Prices would be according to gross vehicle weight (to account for wear and tear on the roads and space taken), road location and time of day to optimize the use of scarce road resources using price signals and market forces.

So that's an alternative to the current system for financing municipal roads funded essentially 100% out of property taxes regardless of how much different people use the roads. Maybe we could run the system at a profit and use the excess to pay for the health care costs of all those killed and injured on the roads. Even less subsidy!

There. That's fair and no one is subsidizing anyone else.

Or, we could share costs, maybe 50/50 like we do now with transit.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-02-03 13:27:49

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 04, 2015 at 23:53:40 in reply to Comment 108711

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By bravo (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2015 at 17:19:39 in reply to Comment 108711

Thats the first I've heard of an attempt to attribute costs to all users. The cost of public transportation would rise significantly as would the cost of private transportation. The cost of transporting goods would also rise significantly. All of this would be offset by lower taxes for all. In all likelyhood transport of goods by rail would look more cost effective than at present and there would likely be a reduction in unnecessary trips by private vehicles

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2015 at 13:03:21 in reply to Comment 108703

If you want roads to be high-quality without raising your overall costs, you need to reduce their quantity. That's basic budgeting. How are you not getting this?

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 04, 2015 at 23:57:11 in reply to Comment 108710

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 05, 2015 at 07:13:35 in reply to Comment 108738

Is that strawman putting up much of a fight or can you handle it all by yourself?

Reducing road space can also mean taking an overbuilt five-lane street and repurposing some of that surplus lane capacity for other uses that encourage more walking, cycling and transit while simultaneously extending the life of the roadway. You know, like cities all across the world that are larger / smaller / wider / narrower / longer / shorter / denser / sparser / flatter /hillier / richer / poorer / wetter / dryer / hotter / colder than Hamilton are doing.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 05, 2015 at 22:55:24 in reply to Comment 108749

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 03, 2015 at 11:28:26 in reply to Comment 108703

Do you look in the mirror everyday and just say "Wow, I'm such a troll. No one is a bigger troll than me!"? Is that at thing that you do?

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 04, 2015 at 23:59:31 in reply to Comment 108706

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 10, 2015 at 07:18:56 in reply to Comment 108739

Wow, I was literally right, I was just making a joke at your expense, but you literally do this...

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 10, 2015 at 18:11:19 in reply to Comment 108943

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