Special Report: Walkable Streets

Open Letter to Councillor Whitehead on 'Hijacking' and Engaged Citizens

We need to stop pretending that there is any part of this city to which we do not all have a shared responsibility to govern with fairness and insight and respect.

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 20, 2015

Dear Terry,

You recently said that residents on the mountain need more opportunity to become engaged in the City's Transportation Master Plan review.

If you had stopped there, I would be wholeheartedly applauding and supporting your desire to engage more Hamiltonians.

But you didn't stop there. You also accused engaged citizens in the lower city of wanting to “hijack” the process. You went even further and strongly insinuated that people who are currently engaged in civic affairs in Hamilton are unemployed and/or don't have families.

That is profoundly insulting and cynical. It does a grave disservice to engaged citizens who make time in their busy lives to participate in the democratic process.

Your comment also does a grave disservice to people who, for various reasons, are out of work. Every person who chooses to engage constructively in Hamilton's civic affairs deserves respect, no matter their personal circumstances.

In Hamilton, where active citizenship has become a dirty word, engaged citizens are often accused of being unemployed bums with too much time on their hands. It's an insidious way to discredit and dismiss the energy and enthusiasm of people who care enough about their community to get involved.

I write a lot about civic issues but very little about myself personally. I hope you will indulge me a moment and let me do that now.

I live in Ward 1, within walking distance of the downtown core. I work full-time as a computer programmer and do some additional freelance writing, programming and consulting work on the side.

I am married, and my wife also works full-time. We have two children: one studying at McMaster University and one attending grade school. We own a house and a car.

You insist that your ward should get to exercise a veto over what happens in the lower city - because “downtown belongs to everyone” - but then you insist that issues in your ward are local affairs that should be decided without outside interference.

I find that very confusing. I don't live in your ward but I often find myself there. I live directly beneath it, after all. I frequently drive, run and cycle in your ward. I visit friends and socialize. I go to stores and buy things. (The lemon meringue pie at Sweet Paradise is to die for.)

That's what happens in a city. People from each part of the city frequently travel to other parts. It's why people choose to live in a city: for the diverse amenities and opportunities that a city provides.

So I have an interest in what happens in your ward; but I don't flatter myself to think that my interest should trump what your own residents want.

Frankly, I would not feel comfortable lecturing you on what your ward needs. If you decide to support a certain local public project, I would be reluctant to speak out against it and I would not want my Councillor to exercise a veto over it. That does not make for harmonious municipal governance.

But like so many of my neighbourhood's streets, the courtesy only goes one way. You routinely exercise a veto over my Councillor's local initiatives and projects.

Even worse, you add insult to injury when you accuse engaged citizens in the lower city of wanting to “hijack” a process that you have been obstructing for years.

In 2001, Council approved a Transportation Master Plan that grew out of a broad, inspiring multi-year civic engagement and visioning process in the 1990s. The plan included several two-way conversions, and Council reaffirmed it in 2007.

14 years later we are still waiting for many of those conversions to take place, and yours has been one of the loudest voices opposed to carrying them out.

You insist that we cannot convert lower-city one-way thoroughfares to two-way because one-way streets are better for traffic congestion. But you also frequently complain about traffic congestion in your ward.

From time to time, I satirically ask when you will present a proposal to convert your ward's streets to one-way, since you so obviously admire their ability to reduce congestion and your own streets are congested.

But I only ask satirically, and only because the irony is so irresistible. One-way streets are devastating for local livability, and two wrongs do not make a right. I would not want to see anyone's streets converted to one-way - certainly not out of spite.

Yet it remains deeply frustrating that you continue to obstruct the recovery of traumatized one-way streets in the lower city even though you would never accept one-way streets in your own ward.

If anyone is hijacking the City's transportation plan, it is emphatically not those residents who have been waiting patiently for literally decades, asking the City to carry out what it committed to doing more than a decade ago.

The City's Vision, which Council approved (like it approved the Transportation Master Plan), is in part "To be the best place in Canada to engage citizens".

Do you think you supported that Vision when you lashed out at engaged citizens? I don't.

Do you think you made it easier for people who are not engaged to decide to start participating, now that they see what happens to people who do? I don't.

Terry, you owe the people of Hamilton an apology. You denigrated the efforts and intentions of residents who are engaged, and you showed residents who may be considering becoming engaged that if they do so, they too will be subject to attack and dismissal.

We need to move beyond the parochial politics of division. We need to stop pitting one part of the city against another. We need to stop pretending that there is any part of this city to which we do not all have a shared responsibility to govern with fairness and insight and respect.

This article is adapted from a letter sent to Councillor Terry Whitehead and the rest of City Council.

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.

108 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By DBeynon (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 19:31:42

Ahmen!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 19:34:28

Awesome letter.

Has he threatened to sue you yet??

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2015 at 19:46:35

applause

Permalink | Context

By LaughTrack (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 19:59:06 in reply to Comment 109380

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.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2015 at 20:14:52 in reply to Comment 109381

Lee wrote a long, beautiful and inspiring article a few months ago, in addition to his many daily activities. The real question is: do you do anything other than anonymous snark?

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-02-19 20:15:18

Permalink | Context

By dsafire (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2015 at 23:01:48 in reply to Comment 109383

Dont forget the hundreds of volunteer hours and free design work he has put in keeping Participatory Budgeting Ward 2 rolling between sessions, as a dedicated Adopt-A-Park team member & on the Stinson neighborhood action plan, along with sundry other grassroots campaigns.

Lee gets his hands dirty, no problem.

Permalink | Context

By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2015 at 22:59:34 in reply to Comment 109383

Thank you, Ryan. Much appreciated, good sir.

Comment edited by LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle on 2015-02-19 23:03:01

Permalink | Context

By Tybalt (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:38:58 in reply to Comment 109392

Well, Lee: thank you. For what you do for the city, and so for me. I know it comes at a personal cost.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jeff_Tessier (registered) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 20:01:13

"Who are these people? What have they done?"

I assume we all remember that. And then 'these people,' who were so worthless and irrelevant to the Mercantis of the world, poured all their energy, time, creativity, and resolve into their efforts to shut down the casino juggernaut. And one of their leaders is now sitting on city council.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Steve_C (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 20:21:32

[Sustained standing ovation here]

Thank you, Ryan McGreal!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Maureen Wilson (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 21:46:13

Thank you Ryan McGreal.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 21:55:44

Ryan you captured exactly my thoughts and feelings. There is one other group that has been snubbed by Whitehead's comments and that would be most students living in the lower and thereby diminishing the contribution they have on shaping this city (arguably also diminishing the contributions of Mohawk and McMaster)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By KevinLove (registered) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 22:49:34

Ryan,

Thank you for this. The insults and us vs. them divisiveness really, really must stop.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-02-19 22:50:23

Permalink | Context

By DudeLove (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 23:27:17 in reply to Comment 109391

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.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By why (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2015 at 23:48:55

Adapted? I'd like to see the director's cut on this one.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 08:23:06 in reply to Comment 109397

Tl;dr: stop playing wedge politics.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By homey (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 00:08:04

Did he respond?

Permalink | Context

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 00:55:59 in reply to Comment 109398

Did he even read it should be the question.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By crtsvg (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 02:19:59

What do you have to say about that Whitehead?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jansserj (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 08:06:52

Great letter! I'd love to see a response!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 08:24:20

I received the following email reply from Councillor Whitehead:

"Sometimes you only see what you want to see" . That is the case here! Special interest groups that try to stack the deck is not something out of the norm. Anyone wanting to protect the process from such activity is to be expected. My reference to the quite majority was also considering those who do not take to twitter but actively show up to meetings. My description of whom they are is accurate and how they describe themselves. Your leap to suggesting activist are unemployed is unfortunate, divisive and is misrepresenting my comments . Nothing wrong with being an activist. It is one of the mechanisms that hold decision makers feet to the fire. Let's also acknowledge they in many cases do not represent the majority view.

I know after 30 years in the public sector, hosting community meetings that people will not come if the meeting is dominated by special interest. I have far greater success at Westcliffe mall with individual engagement. What I have learned was to identify and limit the engagement of those who would dominate to ensure I have a more wholesome response to issues. There is no question judging from "some" of the social media responses, that there are " activist" and they only focused on narrow issues . It is also clear that they are not respectful of other points of view. This is a transportation study that is comprehensive and will look at all modes of transportation and how it can be integrated into a plan that addresses all needs. This is not public transit study. People who minds are already made up are not helpful in moving forward.

We have a clean canvass and must see this as an opportunity to paint our future. That means all who participate should remain open minded to different approaches and solutions to meet transportation needs now into the future.

Respectfully,

Terry Whitehead

Permalink | Context

By a (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 22:28:53 in reply to Comment 109406

Is English Terry Whitehead's second language?

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 23:16:40 in reply to Comment 109483

or third?

Permalink | Context

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 21:43:08 in reply to Comment 109406

This is a transportation study that is comprehensive and will look at all modes of transportation and how it can be integrated into a plan that addresses all needs. This is not public transit study. People who minds are already made up are not helpful in moving forward.

Contrast that statement (which I agree with wholeheartedly) with this one from December:

The city report is expected to outline the impact on traffic, local business and transit ridership.

But Coun. Terry Whitehead said Monday he's ready to end the pilot even without seeing the detailed statistics. "I've made up my mind," he said.

Change of heart Terry?

Permalink | Context

By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 19:39:54 in reply to Comment 109406

"the quite majority"

Permalink | Context

By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 13:51:48 in reply to Comment 109406

How can anyone effectively engage a whole community "one-on-one" at the mall on a transportation study? It is only me or does anyone else that this style of engagement only engages until they get the answer they want. How about some statistical rigour (as opposed the status quo rigor)?

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 14:32:53 in reply to Comment 109456

Whitehead's statistical rigour leaves rather a lot to be desired.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 14:31:40 in reply to Comment 109456

It's the customer-service model of city council, and it's how Rob Ford keeps getting elected after it's revealed that he's a drunken crack-addict who's a danger to himself and others. The job is not to do what's the best for the city, it's to solve the problem of the constituent you're talking to right now. That's it.

A small number of people with a million individual problems and no experts providing a thorough analysis of the issues. In a big room walking around chatting. That's his element.

It's very effective because it really wins people over. Anybody who chooses to run against him and has actual policy ideas unlike just pandering will have to master that art.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-02-20 14:32:22

Permalink | Context

By Kristine (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 16:00:12 in reply to Comment 109459

Pandering is an art, but he's not even good at it! Him and Collins are sound like babbling igits. So long-winded in their comments.

Permalink | Context

By RobF (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 13:20:55 in reply to Comment 109406

I'm of two minds. I appreciate that Terry actually seems willing to respond, even if I disagree with the sentiments he is expressing. On the the other hand, he has a very self-serving definition of "real" engagement that straw-mans his erstwhile "opponent". I think it's true that people without out a firm position on an issue find public meetings difficult and unpleasant if views are polarized amongst those people already engaged. I have no issue with Terry practicing a range of forms of engagement/consultation ... listening in its various guises is a good political practice for a councillor to engage in. Think Terry needs to separate his defense of the status quo, however, from the notion of comprehensive ... our plans already heavily favour the auto-centric status quo. The real challenge for Hamilton, residents and councillors, is how to chart a path from this status quo to a better modal split, and eventually to an inversion of our current mobility reality. You don't generally do that by listening alone ... short of crisis, it requires some persuasion -- not saying "I hear you" to your constituents, but also "have you considered ..."

Thanks for the great letter Ryan. Sums things up beautifully.

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-02-20 13:23:51

Permalink | Context

By Tybalt (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:51:13 in reply to Comment 109406

And also, while I'm thinking of it: Terry, I have a family and a job and I don't have time to hang out at Westcliffe Mall all day.

So I'll come to the meeting end engage with my fellow citizens. And if you think I'm focused on the narrow issues, let's talk about whatever you'd like to; I can school ya there too champ.

Permalink | Context

By Tybalt (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:40:45 in reply to Comment 109406

The city is not a canvas, it is us. Us, and the places we live. I, for one, am not someone to be painted on.

Permalink | Context

By Artiste (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 18:14:02 in reply to Comment 109422

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.

Permalink | Context

By JCWeresch (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 14:38:26 in reply to Comment 109422

Well said.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 09:43:57 in reply to Comment 109406

Every charge he levels against "activists" can be leveled against people he agrees with. I haven't been to nearly as many of these meetings as I'd like, but I've seen the same domination of meetings from people I firmly disagree with.

NIMBY's, callous folks who don't care about the kids in their neighborhood, and the occasional outright lunatic appear in these meetings and try to dominate conversation. And you see the same online, since the barrier to entry is even lower. To try to paint this as an exclusive problem of the complete-streets/urbanism set is absurd.

And also, while I appreciate backpedalling on his discussion of "unemployed activists", if he wants to correct anybody it's should be the CBC, because the implication of his words was pretty freaking clear and if he didn't say those words then the CBC misquoted him.

And yes, if you ask somebody politically disengaged, you might get answers that would agree with whitehead. But if you talk with them for 5 minutes (regardless of your political leanings) you can get them to change those answers. To me, somebody whose opinion is one step away from tabula rasa isn't a silent majority, it's a silent abstention from the conversation.

Look at his "silent majority" in the bus lanes thing. The "silent majority" was actually a 50/50 split, and when you gave the public the option of fixing the bus-lane instead of killing it, that was your silent majority.

So yeah, Whitehead crying for the "silent majority" sounds pretty absurd after the bus-lane thing.

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 08:49:43 in reply to Comment 109406

Other than "quite" majority, his response is reasonable. But I disagree with the clean canvass thing. The canvass is never clean.

So, I don't drive on the mountain much, but I went to the Keg last night and couldn't turn northbound out of the parking lot due to the fact that there were no breaks in the traffic. (Had a hard time turning right as well) Also noticed that people were driving as fast as 80K. While this isn't exactly on point, essentially being a downtown person I had no idea how bad it was up there. My point is that encouraging larger engagement is a good idea, just use better language.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2015-02-20 08:50:03

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By MediaWatch (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 08:57:26

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.

Permalink | Context

By Stever (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:37:00 in reply to Comment 109409

How was the bus lane debate hijacked? You do know it's now gone, don't you?









Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:42:43 in reply to Comment 109444

That would be the bus lane, which:

  • A clear majority of Hamiltonians supported;
  • Most transit operators supported;
  • Most transit users supported; and
  • Carried more people than all the other lanes combined.

But 9 councillors, none of them representing parts of the city where the bus lane operated, all voted against it.

Bus lane votes

There was some hijacking, alright.

Permalink | Context

By Stever (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 14:14:07 in reply to Comment 109447

"HIJACKED!"

Permalink | Context

By Stever (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 14:18:23 in reply to Comment 109457

Ryan, I agree it was 'hijacked'.

My comment to MeidaWatch was more how was it 'hijacked' from the Terry Whitehead way of thinking. From MediaWatch's point of view I'm sure he/she doesn't see the bus lane as being hijacked by suburban councillors.

Thanks for the very striking illustration to my meaning.

Permalink | Context

By DBC (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:40:09 in reply to Comment 109444

Well, there were those heretics that were framing their position using actual data and statistics and best practices from successful cities............

Permalink | Context

By Sleepily-Annoyed (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:28:59 in reply to Comment 109409

How exactly does one hijack a debate? Honest question.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:31:58 in reply to Comment 109418

Apparently in Hamilton you "hijack" a debate by getting organized, doing research, marshalling arguments and evidence, and advocating for a position.

In other places, that's just called "being an engaged citizen".

Permalink | Context

By Sleepily-Annoyed (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:20:39 in reply to Comment 109420

I still don't understand how the specific term "hijack" can be used in this situation. It's not as if people are storming council cutting off microphones and holding guns to heads. It's not as if people downtown have been actively trying to shutdown down progress in the other wards.

Using Whitehead's logic if I'm a football game and the fans in the row in front of me have shown up all decked out in body paint with rainbow wigs and foam fingers and they cheer louder than anyone in my row it means they've hijacked the game.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:24:31

Whitehead is a politician. I hate to be a bigot, but I truly find it hard today to listen to much of what that group of individuals say. And that is a shame. It should be a high calling. But at least he is the devil you know. I am more afraid of those who hide their true stripes or blow with the wind.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By DBC (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:24:38

Shocked to read Dreschel's column today. He sounds like an apologist for Whitehead.

Why he also dredges up the whole "regional road" red herring is also troubling. The fact is regional roads run through city centres all over Ontario. Only in Hamilton have we taken them and made them 5 lane one way monstrosities. Name another city anywhere that has done the same. What is so horrible about the thought of two-way King and Main? You would still have a total of 4 lanes going in each direction. Granted you wouldn't be able to speed THROUGH the core, but the trade off would be increased vitality of the streetscape and an increase in businesses.

One way Queen St. is yet another red herring. Why do the streets at the bottom of a mountain access need to be one-way when none of the streets at the top of the access are? Beckett Drive is one lane in each direction. Calming Queen would only eliminate the queue jumping (high speed) that takes place.

How is wanting safe streets where you live a bad thing?

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 15:31:58 in reply to Comment 109427

actually Queen where it meets the Mountain Access is two-way. So continuing that 2-way all the way to Stuart Street won't harm anyone.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 15:40:47 in reply to Comment 109463

I'm assuming that continuing a 2-way conversion north of King would take a separate discussion because Cannon->Queen->King are functionally a single westbound corridor. Then again, now that we've gotten rid of any interest in calming King's traffic and bus-lanes and all, we don't really need Cannon->Queen->King to work well. But I could see that remain important if we get LRT... but realistically, we're not getting LRT now - the time limit is running out, the PCs have finally figured out that running wingnuts is suicide and Elliot will take the house in 2018 and that's the end of our LRT dreams.

So yeah, fix freaking Queen.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 17:45:01 in reply to Comment 109465

lol. Queen, north of King can easily go two-way. The proposed cross section from King to York involves shaving back the property lines along the west side to accommodate wider sidewalks separated by a buffer. One cross section showed raised bike lanes at sidewalk level.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 18:03:57 in reply to Comment 109468

Queen at Cannon is 2.5 lanes. That .5 is obviously useless, which means Queen has functionally a dead lane for a couple of blocks, good for nothing but street-side parking. The 2-lane bottleneck on an otherwise 3-lane road is why I doubt they will ever convert Queen North, but it does mean that there's a large space where there's opportunity to make use of some excess space and shape the majority of the Cannon->King span down to 2 lanes.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-02-20 18:04:33

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:54:28 in reply to Comment 109427

Queen Street isn't a red herring, it's exactly what the argument is about. Queen South is 1-way for the benefit of the West Mountain and nobody else - commuters from other areas would use the Linc or the Jolley Cut for similar trips. Locals would rather have a normal street.

Nobody is proposing that Queen South get a complete-street treatment with bike lanes and all that. Just the same normal form that every other street gets. I mean, look at Garth - it's not a really safe street, it's got fast traffic and minimal street-side parking. For Queen? That would still be a massive improvement!

Give Queen the same treatment as Garth. 2-way, rush-hour-prohibition on street-side parking, and normal traffic lights instead of crazy onramps.

Queen's an arterial road.

Fine.

Make it a normal arterial road instead of a freak.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:51:23 in reply to Comment 109427

saw this yesterday on Queen. Folks driving along just fine with no slowdowns and one idiot gets into the 3rd lane (curb lane) and starts doing 80+ inches from kids walking home from school.

Terry and Dreschel are the new Red Hill activists.
They are holding up progress and costing us a ton of investment by clinging to bad ideas. The rest of the world has changed, including the company who originally planned our one way system. In fact, right on their website it says "times change and so do we". Now they develop complete streets, LRT, BRT etc.....

The balance of responsibility is on guys like Dreschel and Whitehead to disprove the worlds experts and every other city on the planet. It's not on us to prove these ideas work. They are the new activists costing us $ and livability.

Permalink | Context

By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 23:26:14 in reply to Comment 109430

Queen has got to be one of the most dangerous roads to walk on. If someone ever slipped and fell they could easily end up on the road. Hate to think of kids walking there.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Stever (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:40:23

Terry likes one-to-one engagement at the mall, because it's safe. When he gets put into his place, or put into a corner, he can smile, say something polite and walk away grumbling under his breath.

He can't do that in a forum.

Permalink | Context

By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 15:01:42 in reply to Comment 109446

Then you just get filed away as an activist and he knows that he can still count on the silent majority to support his position.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lorne (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2015 at 18:54:57

Just an excellent letter, Ryan. You speak for all of us who believe, not just in the principle of democracy, but also its practice.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Dylan (registered) | Posted February 20, 2015 at 19:03:29

I'm all for public consultations being "hijacked" by progressive, forward thinking citizens that take the time to educate themselves on issues so as to create an informed opinion.

However, I often consider these public consultations as primarily a way of avoiding any responsibility or decision making. Why do we even elect officials if every issue is going to turn into a plebiscite?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Screws (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 00:35:25

Screw Whitehead. Screw Collins. Screw these clowns for hijacking public transit, and the public works committee.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2015 at 12:43:24

The thing that amazes me about Terry's unwillingness to change Queen Street (and he is unwilling based on what Councillors have said), is that there is only one lane that goes up the Queen Street Hill. There isn't even a left turn lane on Queen, although you can turn left at Aberdeen. So, I simply can't see how making Queen 2-way for its entire length changes the flow up, or down, the Queen Street Hill. Is it just that Queen Street drivers can get to the single lane at Aberdeen faster because it's one-way to Herkimer? What am I missing?

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 15:04:23 in reply to Comment 109493

you're missing this part of the equation:

https://communities.bmc.com/servlet/Jive...

Permalink | Context

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2015 at 17:35:39 in reply to Comment 109494

Of course. I forgot the public engagement part. Thanks Jason.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ahappycommuter (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 15:04:49

I drive home from work every day down queen to herkimer. I love the current set up. Three coworkers live on the west mountain and they love it too. If it was restricted to two lanes southbound at rush hour it would affect me some but it would affect my coworkers more. On the days when people park on the east side during rush hour alumina ting that lane, the people heading to herkimer get lumped in with the people trying to getbupbthebwest mountai or to west Aberdeen and it creates great delay. You may not like it. But I do. Does that make me bad? Do I make no sense? Can you not see why my coworkers and I like the current setup? It's logical. It's understandable. We just disagree.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 22:26:14 in reply to Comment 109495

there is never a 'great delay' on Queen. Ever. Thee's never a small delay on Queen. It's a dangerous freeway when all 3 lanes are open. It should be 1-lane each way with parking on one side. It's a residential street.

Convert Bay to two-way, 1-lane each way with parking on the east side until Bold. From Bold to Cannon it can be 1 lane each way with left turn lanes at intersections and bike lanes both ways.

That adds safe bike lanes into this N/S corridor and still leaves 2 car lanes each way.

Permalink | Context

By m (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 19:02:23 in reply to Comment 109495

It makes you selfish (I'll let you determine whether that makes you "bad"). You, and many like you, are unwilling to sacrifice the addition of mere minutes to your commute to improve the safety and livability of the neighbourhoods of others (or, in this case your OWN neighbourhood?!). Simply put, you, and many like you, value your time more than the safety and well-being of others. That's selfish.

Permalink | Context

By Ahappycommuter (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 22:50:02 in reply to Comment 109503

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.

Permalink | Context

By m (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 23:32:33 in reply to Comment 109506

No.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 16:33:13 in reply to Comment 109508

I think that was a statement not a question. It ended in a period as is "we are all selfish." We all want what we want. Otherwise there would be no debate.

Permalink | Context

By m (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:58:53 in reply to Comment 109581

Thanks for the lesson in punctuation, Charles. I think highwater better understood my response.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:40:45 in reply to Comment 109581

Yes, we all want what we want, but some of us want the greater good even if it means making some sacrifices, while some of us want to preserve our personal convenience even at the cost of the quality of life, livelihoods, and safety of others.

The reason there is a debate is because late capitalism has made a virtue of this selfishness. Otherwise it would make no sense to weigh a few minutes of drivers' time against the health and safety of affected neighbourhoods as if the two were equal in any way.

Comment edited by highwater on 2015-02-23 17:41:26

Permalink | Context

By Chuckball (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 18:16:00 in reply to Comment 109595

Hey Chas, cant win the altruism argument you Capitalist lackey. Try arguing that the people who want slow traffic are just trying to increase their own property values at your expense.

Permalink | Context

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2015 at 17:41:16 in reply to Comment 109495

Ahappycommuter - I'm very open to listening. but I do expect the same from others. Unlike you, I have chosen to live right in this neighbourhood. It's always about balance. You need to get home so you can enjoy your home, and so do I. The number of cars that race past my home on Aberdeen every single morning during "rush hour" is not ideal. I accept the volume of traffic, which is high, but I do not accept the speed of the traffic, which is fast. Commuters, not neighbours.

The same is true going south on Queen street. High volume. High speed. Try walking it, not just driving it and i think you'll see those of us whose homes are in theneighbourhood have a point too. We're going to have to listen to each other to try to resolve this issue.

Permalink | Context

By redmike (registered) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 16:10:48 in reply to Comment 109495

if the traffic conditions were changed so that you and your co-workers drove slower and safer and had to change your traffic habits and behaviours a little, you would enjoy yourselves less. we get that. less enjoyment for you. but many many residents of the areas travelled by you and your coworkers would be safer and happier and enjoy THEIR lives so much more. so you and your coworkrs have a little less enjoyment, and many others have a lot more enjoyment. who could see anything wrong with that?

Permalink | Context

By Ahappycommuter (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 16:34:45 in reply to Comment 109496

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.

Permalink | Context

By redmike (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 01:47:11 in reply to Comment 109497

no one said slowing down to a crawl. but if the traffic changes means it took you four minutes longer each way to work but saved lives and made for a better quality of life for your neighbours you arent willing to do that?

Permalink | Context

By crawl (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 08:36:31 in reply to Comment 109510

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.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 15:20:42 in reply to Comment 109511

are we talking about Hamilton, Ontario? I wish there was a time of day you could walk anywhere faster than drive. Not being able to do 70k and hit every green light is what passes as critical congestion and crazy slowdowns here.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2015 at 13:40:24 in reply to Comment 109511

... I'm confused, why take that route? Why not use a commercial major street like John or James to get to the jolley cut instead of running through people's neighborhoods? When I'm going to the Jolley Cut, it never occurs to me to duck through residential neighborhoods - just take King/Main to James or John and go up the cut. And reverse, back. Why detour through people's back yards?

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 16:40:13 in reply to Comment 109518

John and James are parking lots at rush hour. This morning I waited for four lights at Charlton heading eastbound at John. The two way conversion and all the buses means that people that used to drive south on James at rush hour now take Queen. So, the people who live on Queen and Herkimer pay the price for what used to be traffic borne by commercial properties. This was predictable.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:09:03 in reply to Comment 109582

no they aren't parking lots. Ever. Hitting a few red lights in rush hour in a city is normal. Every other city on earth would roll around laughing at what people here call a 'parking lot' or 'gridlock'.
The morning slowdowns on Charlton last all of about 10 minutes.

And if commuters are able to adapt that easily and start using Queen as their Mountain access route instead of West 5th or the jolley Cut, there's no reason they can't use the Claremont and it's SIX completely empty lanes.

We have this totally empty Mountain Access route sitting there in front of everyone and instead people have the nerve to complain about hitting a red light once in a while on James or John. Use the Claremont.

Comment edited by jason on 2015-02-23 17:09:23

Permalink | Context

By Truth (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:43:54 in reply to Comment 109588

I agree. I drive these roads all the time..........parking lots? Not even close.

Having to remove your foot from the accelerator does not mean you have just entered a parking lot.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:42:36 in reply to Comment 109588

Jason, they are parking lots. Starting from about, say, 3:30-4pm until about 6pm. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. I lived right at this intersection for over 5 years and fronted onto Charlton and windows onto John. It's a mess when you have: - School buses from Queen Victoria - Shift changes at the hospital - Other people trying to get home

It's the same in the morning. Starting at about 7, the traffic builds till around 9-9:30 then tails off. A brief push around 10, then 11, then noon, then again into the afternoon.

It's usually a mess at the intersection. There's lots of poeple trying to beat the light, and get stuck out in the middle of hte intersection, blocking it for all traffic.

But I forgot, you're a traffic engineer who lives off of Dundurn and knows about all the streets in the city. My bad.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:45:42 in reply to Comment 109596

Nonsense. I drive this stretch at those times all the time. What you are experiencing is normal rush hour traffic. Your perception has been warped by the decades of economic doldrums that emptied our streets. More economic activity means we have closer to normal traffic levels. That's all.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:49:14 in reply to Comment 109598

I'm always amazed when on these streets in rush hour that it's rush hour in one of Canada's biggest cities. Zero traffic problems.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:16:31 in reply to Comment 109588

Do you know where Mountain Park is? Why would you drive all the way to Wellington then back to Upper James, and across a RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD to get to Mountain Park? Holy zig zag batman. The best route is like PXTL says - up John if it was two lanes. But it isn't It's only one and you hit every red light. It is just faster to go down Herkimer, which is what the poor guy does. So the people on Queen and Herkimer pay the price. I am sure that the guy would drive up John if it was more efficient. We would have to ask him and anyone else who works west and lives on the east mountain near Concession.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:48:06 in reply to Comment 109591

of course for the odd person headed to Mt Park, yes you're Jolley Cut route makes sense. I'm guessing 99% of folks using the Mtn Accesses each morning aren't headed to Mt Park. For most others, the Claremont is def an option.

Seems to me the simple solution is to slow down traffic on Herkimer making John/Jolley Cut the more attractive option.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 23, 2015 at 18:00:28 in reply to Comment 109599

The problem is that the Claremont screws up Victoria/Wellington just as badly as the Jolley Cut is currently screwing up Queen and Herkimer and Charlton. Ultimately the Claremont could be downgraded to 4 lanes and then it could be supplied by a normal road instead of a pair of 1-ways... and then we've got the same problem at Victoria/Wellington that we're having at James and John.

If you're going to pick one street that must be deformed, then I'd say John. It's the most direct route from King/Main to the Jolley Cut and therefore minimizes the impact on the rest of the city. Fix the zany TWINO layout in favour of pure-2-way, make sure there's a full 4 lanes for the whole length, and put up a couple of no-left-turn signs as needed. Sync the lights to whichever direction carries more traffic according to the time of day. Basically, the same treatment I'd expect to see in any normal city.

Then let the whole rest of the neighborhood go 2-way with no crazy creative traffic solutions.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-02-23 18:12:52

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 18:13:49 in reply to Comment 109603

keep in mind, the Claremont adds it's lanes along the central portion. Walk to Main and Victoria sometime and look south. It's pathetic. The Claremont comes down with only 2 lanes, and as we know, even at only 2 lanes nobody does less than 90km/hr. Suddenly at the bottom Victoria becomes FIVE lanes.
The Claremont has nothing to do with this. It's city hall.

Ditto for Wellington. 5 lanes on Wellington becomes 3 on the Claremont. Then a 4th lane appear halfway up for no reason.

We could have a 2-way protected bike lane on the south lane of the Claremont that veers down to Charlton Ave, and if we made Wellington/Victoria 2-way we could adjust the centre median on the Claremont and have 2 lanes up and 1 lane down next to the bike lanes. Then we take the remaining 2/3 unbound lanes and convert them to BRT/bus only lanes veering over to the upcoming transit terminal at Mohawk College by adding bus lanes on West 5th (yea right. haha)

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 23, 2015 at 16:52:56 in reply to Comment 109582

It would be trivially easy to make Southbound traffic on John work - I have no idea why the city hasn't done anything to fix it.

Look at this, and look around

John has room for 2 upwards lanes, but has only one. Why? That road has a light preventing any off-cycle access from St. Joe's. It's not like there's a bike-lane or a parking lane or something using that dead space. It's yellow hatching.

The road is 4 lanes wide and blocked down to 3... why?

I've always been bewildered when taking John up the mountain which lane I'm supposed to take when I get from John into the Jolley Cut because the one lane becomes two completely unremarked.

Roads on the mountain carry traffic like this happily and nobody suggests that West 5th and Garth should be converted to 1-way to help alleviate the traffic on Upper James.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-02-23 16:56:02

Permalink | Context

By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 20:32:14 in reply to Comment 109584

Because John was historically downbound, and they could not fathom upbound use. It's also why traffic on main is drained onto james southbound with the forced right turn lane, when most of that traffic should be using john directly to access Jolley.

It's almost as if james south and john south were designed badly on purpose to "prove" that they shouldn't be two way...

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:28:01 in reply to Comment 109584

The markdown processor destroyed my link, I think.

Copy+paste this:

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Hamilton,+ON+L8N/@43.24774,-79.869578,3a,75y,273.67h,67.4t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sHYoOKMJw3I7ehvigonAudA!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x882c9b9f26149ea7:0x701be1a4942c6338

or click here

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-02-23 17:28:40

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 17:10:54 in reply to Comment 109584

it's because they wanted the left turn lane onto Charlton in the other direction to be as wide as a small airport runway. A small, normal left turn lane would allow John to widen to 2 SB lanes here as you describe.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 23, 2015 at 16:54:56 in reply to Comment 109584

Good point. They could also use advance greens and such.

My guess is that it is because they put a turning lane in northbound on John at Charlton. They should get rid of that.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-02-23 16:57:56

Permalink | Context

By Never Where I Live! (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 14:14:17 in reply to Comment 109518

Well that is really the whole problem with the one way network of streets in Durand; too many cars are straight up cut through traffic that don't even "need" to be there in the first place. We've designed a network where it is quicker, or just as fast, to get on the side streets of Durand to get to the mountain accesses. Crazy but true.

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 11:42:05 in reply to Comment 109511

I think it is important to take a larger view of the street network, the neighbourhood and the needs of different residents.

Currently Queen street southbound, Herkimer to Aberdeen is slow for about 20-30 minutes once a day during the afternoon rush hour.

At all other times (unless there's been an accident) traffic drives at dangerously high speeds literally centimetres from pedestrians walking on narrow sidewalks. In particular, during the morning rush hour traffic moves very fast and poses a real danger to children walking to school.

This is dangerous for pedestrians and very unpleasant for those living on the street. As an example, many times I've seen inattentive drivers drive up onto the sidewalk where it veers out very slightly just before Herkimer (you can see the tire tracks on the sidewalk). Perhaps the majority of drivers are safe and careful, but with thousands out there every day it only takes a few to cause serious problems. The Durand traffic study in 2002 measured traffic and found speeding to a real problem, with 40% of traffic on the minor arterials exceeded the 50km/h speed limit and that 200 vehicles per day exceeded 65 km/h (the speed at which a pedestrian has over 85% of being killed if struck).

In addition, a McMaster study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health found that children are 2.5 times more likely to be injured on one-way streets.

The street should be designed to encourage safe speeds and be tolerant to error (not designed for 70km/h-100km/h with narrow sidewalks and no buffer as it is now). https://raisethehammer.org/article/2143/...

We mustn't forget that objectively Hamilton is one of the most dangerous cities in Ontario for pedestrians and cyclists (and Ontario is not a world leader in road safety). Each year around 25 residents are killed and 2500 seriously injured in traffic collisions.

The goal should be to slow the maximum speed of traffic in urban neighbourhoods to 30-40km/h (a relatively safe speed) while not causing traffic to slow to walking pace during the very short evening or morning rush hours.

As others have pointed out, systematic two-way conversion of our one-way pairs would help provide more options and slow the maximum speed of traffic. Other options would be to increase on street parking (restricting only for a short time, say 4-6pm).

A fast comfortable commute is one factor that is important for some Hamiltonians, but streets are also an important part of determining the liveability of residential neighbourhoods and the success of commercial streets. Depressing property values, driving out businesses and increasing danger for pedestrians are also very important factors.

Too often in Hamilton the debate about streets in wards 1-3 begins and ends with how it affects commuters, at least for those who don't live there. That's part of the reason the downtown has suffered economically for so long.

What do you think the best way is to improve safety, comfort and liveability for residents, help businesses thrive and address the well-documented safety problems with our current one-way streets while still providing reasonable service to commuters during rush hour?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-02-22 11:44:33

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 12:18:00 in reply to Comment 109516

And, to take an even "bigger picture" point of view, if Hamilton (especially its downtown core) is ever to reach its full economic and population potential (imagine all those vacant lots built) it will have to stop treating single occupancy vehicle commuting as the default. There just won't be enough street capacity, even if we refuse to do any traffic calming or complete street renovations.

This is why Hamilton has the goal of shifting the modal split away from driving to transit, walking and cycling. Our official goal since 2001 has been to double per capita transit use.

This isn't to be "fair" to transit users or pedestrians or because the city is anti-car; it is to make the most efficient use possible of the finite resource that is our streets. There really is no other way.

Continuing to place auto commuters at the top of our priority list is just going to make it even harder to make the switch when we really are in a gridlock crisis and it becomes absolutely necessary. Or, we could decide we prefer a fast automobile commute to an economically vibrant and successful city.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-02-22 12:18:56

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 15:24:12 in reply to Comment 109517

these two comments above are excellent. Not only does city hall have no vision for downtown greater than being a freeway to somewhere else, they actually encourage the use of single occupancy vehicles as well. It's amazing. No other city disregards its downtown like we do. Zero vision. zero leadership.

Cities around the world and making their downtowns attractive to people. You know, putting people first. That's the title of yet another great working plan for downtown that's been collecting dust on a shelf somewhere while we continue to perpetuate these one-way freeways and stifle our own economy.

I always come back to de-amalgamation. For the first decade of amalgamation I thought we could all be grown-ups and make it work. City council has proven otherwise, and I would now actively support a mayoral/council candidate promising full, 100% financial and political de-amalgamation. Until that happens, we are all wasting our time hoping for city hall to care about downtown or ever make the basic changes to our public realm that will allow it to succeed and thrive.

Permalink | Context

By crawl (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 08:38:12 in reply to Comment 109511

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.

Permalink | Context

By Ahappycommuter (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 16:37:36 in reply to Comment 109497

I live just off herkimer so I have some skin in both sides of the game. If I was given a vote I would vote leave it as it is. Just saying, that is all.

Permalink | Context

By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 18:04:19 in reply to Comment 109498

And so it has worked. us vs. them. Terry's tactic wins. Rather than being engaged citizens and discussing ways for both parties to win it becomes a fight over peripheral details.

Ahappycommuter - seems we're neighbours. As a commuter I can see you want efficient passage. I take transit and I want a more livable, walkable neighbourhood (yes I own car, yes I'm employed, yes I have a family with young child). Will a piecemeal approach to Queen slow things down - probably. If we treated this as a larger connected system we each want something that doesn't have to be on opposing sides.

Permalink | Context

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2015 at 17:44:54 in reply to Comment 109498

Ahappycommuter - I think I may have misread your "drive home from work every day down queen to herkimer" as a driving down the mountain along Queen. Your later post clarifies that. Given that you know what Queen is like during the evening rush hour, surely you would agree that traffic is travelling faster than pedestrians would like. You may not be, but it really seems to me you're in the minority.

Permalink | Context

By Ahappycommuter (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 22:52:54 in reply to Comment 109501

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.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 21, 2015 at 22:28:03 in reply to Comment 109501

the thing I'm finding most baffling about this chat is the number of apparently employed people who live downtown. Crazy stuff

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By John (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 10:03:48

Not being a native Hamiltonian I am astounded at the lack of movement when it comes to downtown infrastructure and transit. I've lived in many different places across Canada and no wonder people have a certain view of Hamilton. A vibrant city always has a fully developed core, with two way streets, condos, bike lanes,effective transit and BUSINESS!! Do all citizens understand if you have BUSINESSES you have more tax revenue and relieve the burden on the residential tax payer for EVERYONE? How is this not clear to council and all citizens?? If council focused on real business coming to the core with results and lowering residential taxes people would listen. To attract business you must have two way streets for accessibility to storefronts etc. I have read that a number of streets have been approved for 2 way conversion years ago but they aren't getting done. Why? Has council not noticed the vibrancy of the James Street conversion? If I was a native of Hamilton I would feel hopeless with this divisive leadership over the years. They only way to change things is to beat these guys at election time. We need young and hungry leadership, not these 'old back door deals, I need to keep my job' councilors.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 15:25:48 in reply to Comment 109513

you're not the only one who is astounded. We truly are the last North American hold-out. City Hall is still fighting tooth and nail to keep things depressed and closed for business.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By m (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 17:08:36

Welcome to Hamilton; frustrating, isn't it?

The same constituents and pathetic, pandering councillors who make it their mission to stop any and all progress downtown are the same who will complain about high residential taxes or about not getting their "fair share" (all while building a $1.7 million dollar bocce ball court).

While I currently live on the mountain, I can appreciate that what is good for the core is, in turn, good for us all. I may never use the Cannon bike lanes, but I understand that they are a wise investment of "my" tax dollars because they improve the livability of the surrounding neighbourhood. I never once used the bus lane as an HSR rider, but I was willing to lengthen my commute by two minutes (or adjust my route!)for the greater good of our city. If built, will I ever use LRT? Maybe, but if I don't, I realize that this is exactly the type of investment we need to make in order to attract new economic and residential development opportunities, to compete with other cities in an effort to retain current Hamiltonians and graduating students, and to reduce reliance upon the residential taxpayer.

When trying to explain this logic to "unengaged" friends and family (who, I have now come to realize, have jobs and families to tend to...thanks, Terry!), I often find that it falls on deaf ears. There is a rooted indifference toward downtown or the "old" city. In many cases, I would go as far as to say there is a hatred. Where does this hatred stem from? It beats me. Perhaps they were once approached by an "undesirable" along King Street East; perhaps five lanes on Main Street are not enough for them; perhaps they've fallen victim to the urban versus suburban rhetoric. Whatever the reason, my experience has been that if I take the time to try to explain the value of bike lanes, bus lanes, LRT, etc., I am often met with dismissive remarks such as, "Yeah? Well, downtown sucks" or, "Yeah? Well, downtown should still be razed." It's hard to convince those who have no desire to be convinced.

It's no surprise that Whitehead has more success with "individual engagement at Westcliffe Mall." Is this guy serious? While there, he can confidently woo constituents with his feathered hair and a handshake as he promises them a filled pothole and a new blue box.

Most of us reading this site know that most of our councillors are completely inept when it comes to common sense, 21st century city-building. What's worse is that they have no desire to learn. Councillors have openly admitted to making up their minds regarding significant issues before even hearing study results or staff reports. Huh? Making the difficult, and right, decisions would jeopardize the "impressive" runs of many of this city's councillors.

I have accepted the fact that the pandering, career councillors in this city cannot be trusted to make the right decisions, and they cannot be persuaded with logic or reason (Whitehead's often defensive replies to Ryan and others are embarrassing). Unless ward boundaries are redrawn to balance the current urban vs. suburban imbalance, things will never, ever change. I don't see this redrawing of boundaries happening any time soon.

So, what's the solution? I know this isn't very "activist" of me, but, unfortunately, I think we'll just have to wait until a critical mass is achieved in the core. Hopefully, the turning point will be when people start moving into the condos being built and proposed downtown. Hopefully, these new residents, who have invested in the core, will add their voices to ours. Hopefully, this critical mass will allow Hamilton to achieve its potential in spite of council.


Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 21:15:31 in reply to Comment 109525

well said, and I agree. there is little hope for change anytime soon. As someone told me at the gym last week while venting about how pathetic our council is - "some guy whose only career before council was working at a Blockbuster video store is ignoring expert advice from staff and making stupid decisions to harm our city for decades t to come! No wonder these guys only care about pandering to the few whiners in their wards. It's either that or go back to Blockbuster".

Permalink | Context

By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 22, 2015 at 23:08:25 in reply to Comment 109531

This is Hamilton's problem in a nutshell. Too many under qualified individuals holding the reigns of power, perpetuating a near endless cycle of apathy.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds