Special Report: Walkable Streets

HHS Parking Expansion Plan is Harmful and Unnecessary

This parking lot expansion would be harmful to Beasley Neighbourhood, would represent a policy inequity between neighbourhoods, and is not needed.

By John Neary
Published May 04, 2015

On May 5, 2015, the City of Hamilton Planning Committee will discuss an application by Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for official plan and zoning amendments for lands located at 201 Robert Street and 166 Ferguson Avenue North, in Beasley Neighbourhood.

HHS Parking Lot Development, Ferguson Avenue North and Robert Street
HHS Parking Lot Development, Ferguson Avenue North and Robert Street

These amendments would allow for the expansion of the existing HHS parking lot on the south side of Barton Street, adding 158 parking spaces to the existing 640 spaces.

The proposed justification for this parking lot expansion is that the construction of the new McMaster Children's Health Centre (MCHC) on Wellington Street North, just south of the CN tracks, has led to the loss of a roughly similar number of parking spaces in the HHS parking lot north of Barton.

The Beasley Neighbourhood Association has discussed this application on numerous occasions, and a vote of our membership in March was unanimously opposed to this proposal.

Parking lots are dead, deserted spaces that encourage crime and vandalism. The automobile traffic that they induce contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory disease and road traffic accidents in our community.

Parking lots are bad for neighbourhood well-being: people just don't like living next to them or walking alongside them. Finally, our neighbourhood already has far more than its share of parking lots.

City of Hamilton Planning Report

In December 2009, the Economic Development and Planning Committee approved a zoning application to permit HHS to construct a 640-space parking lot on the south side of Barton Street to the east of Ferguson Avenue, serving Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) and associated buildings.

In June 2012, the Ontario Municipal Board issued a decision that brought the West Harbour Secondary Plan (Setting Sail) into effect.

This plan calls for limiting parking to the rear of new developments and for the holes in our street grid to be fixed by connecting Cathcart Street north to Barton and Robert Street west to Ferguson.

The current report by the Planning and Economic Development Department does not acknowledge that the Secondary Plan calls for the reconnection of Cathcart and Robert Streets, or that this parking lot expansion would preclude such reconnection.

It strains credulity in arguing that expanding the parking lot is in line with the Places to Grow Act, completely overlooking section 2.2.6.10:

In planning lands for employment, municipalities will facilitate the development of transit-supportive, compact built form and minimize surface parking.

However, the most egregious error in the Planning report is in how it argues that the design standards of Setting Sail can be ignored as they apply to this proposal:

While the proposal does not implement the ultimate planned land use (i.e. medium density residential) ... it does not negate the likelihood in the future of such redevelopment occurring.

With regards to the specific policy direction for the lands designated “Medium Density Residential 1” and “Medium Density Residential 2”, these are design related objectives that would apply to the final intended land use (i.e. primarily apartment buildings) to ensure their ultimate design is compatible with surrounding uses, and meets objectives for comprehensive development with shared parking not directly in front of a future building. As the proposed parking lot expansion is the interim use, not the ultimate land use, the intent of the policy is not being contravened.

[M]ultiple dwellings are the ultimate land use planned for the subject lands. This is also reflective of the existing zoning of the lands which also permits multiple dwellings. The proposed parking lot is not permitted within the designation. However, the proposed parking lot is not intended to be the final land use and the applicant has not proposed to redesignate the lands to any commercial, mixeduse or institutionally oriented designation that might otherwise have permitted such a parking lot, nor to eliminate multiple dwellings as a permitted use. The proposed parking lot is intended as an interim use until the ultimate land use is implemented.

In other words: we can ignore the zoning for multiple dwellings as long as we pretend that multiple dwellings will eventually be built, and since we're ignoring the zoning, we can also ignore all of the design standards.

By this logic, we don't need to have city planners, because every development proposal can be approved under the fiction that "this is temporary, we'll achieve the ultimate land use later, and we can ignore all of the rules until we achieve that use."

Communication between HHS and Beasley

Hamilton Health Sciences' public outreach regarding this issue started with a misleading letter sent to a fairly small part of our neighbourhood (it didn't reach my own house on Mary Street, 350 m from the land in question) inviting us to a "community information event" about the MCHC project.

The only reference to the proposed parking lot expansion south of Barton was a single mention of "renovations to accommodate the added volume" on the lot south of Barton. The meeting was held at the Eva Rothwell Centre on Wentworth Street North - a site which is 2.1 km from the lands in question and poorly accessible by all means of transportation other than the private automobile.

Letter from Hamilton Health Sciences
Letter from Hamilton Health Sciences (Text of the letter is at the bottom of this article)

Nevertheless, the BNA was represented at this meeting by residents of the Robert/Cathcart area, who are strongly opposed to the parking lot expansion.

(I should note in passing that HHS staff refuse to use the word "expansion", under the logic that the total number of parking spaces is not increasing. It is not an expansion of the overall HHS parking footprint, but it is certainly an expansion of the parking footprint in the residential part of our neighbourhood.)

To their credit, when HHS management found out about the opposition to their proposal from Beasley residents and the BNA, they improved their engagement with our neighbourhood by attending the Beasley Fair on April 11 and having a meeting regarding transportation policy with local stakeholders on April 30.

However, while we are happy at the BNA to have improved lines of communication with HHS, we have made no progress regarding the parking lot impasse. HHS will not withdraw their application, and we will not budge in our opposition to it. Therefore, this issue will be decided in an adversarial manner by the Planning Committee.

Why This Parking Is Not Needed

Hamilton Health Sciences will argue that this parking is needed to serve the needs of children and families attending the MCHC. In fact, the purported parking shortage is not a problem of parking supply. Rather, it is a problem of transportation mismanagement by HHS.

Current transportation policy at HHS privileges the interest of a subset of HHS employees and physicians over the interests of patients and families, the community, and even HHS itself. Improved transportation policy would solve the purported parking shortage without any additional cost to HHS or its patients.

HHS operates three parking lots near HGH. Staff and physicians (henceforth, "staff" for simplicity's sake) with monthly parking passes pay $60 per month to park in the lot south of Barton, $70 in the lot north of Barton, and $97 in the parking ramp on Victoria.

By contrast, patients and visitors using the south lot pay $6 per day, and patients using the parking ramp pay $3.50 per hour to a maximum of $20 per day. (Discounted options are available for patients and visitors who purchase long-term parking). HHS currently has a waiting list of about 80 staff who cannot obtain a monthly parking pass.

Private lots near HGH charge considerably more for parking. For example, Impark charges $110 per month for its lot on West Avenue, despite the fact that this lot is neither protected from the elements nor directly connected to the hospital (by contrast to the HHS parking ramp).

The conclusion from these facts is simple: HHS is subsidizing staff parking, which it is under no legal, contractual, or moral obligation to do.

Each parking space devoted to monthly staff permit parking generates considerably less revenue than it would if it were made available for daily parking, and less than is charged by the private lots.

There is a waiting list for staff parking because it is cheaper than the open market. (As an aside, the City's pricing is even worse: two municipal parking lots on Barton just east of Victoria charge only $40 per month. Guess what: they have waiting lists as well.)

By artificially pricing staff parking below the market rate, HHS is providing a subsidy to its staff - and not to all of its staff. No subsidy is offered to staff who choose to live close to the hospital and walk to work, or to those who choose to take transit or cycle.

Furthermore, no subsidy is offered to staff who drive to work but who aren't fortunate enough to have a monthly parking pass.

This subsidy, offered to an arbitrary subset of staff, robs HHS of revenue that could be used to support its clinical, research, and educational missions.

It encourages staff to drive to work rather than using other forms of transportation, and by doing so increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease and road traffic accidents in surrounding neighbourhoods. (This is ironic, given that trauma and cardiology are two of HGH's biggest programs).

It artificially inflates demand for staff parking and, by doing so, creates an artificial shortage of patient parking.

The solution to HHS' parking policy problem is simple: charge staff the same rates as patients (or even more than patients: the latter have a much better case for a subsidy, as they didn't choose to get sick), and raise the staff parking rate until there is no waiting list and hospital parking is at least as expensive as the surrounding private lots.

Ideally, monthly parking would itself be abolished and replaced with a pay-as-you go transponder system, in which the user has a financial incentive to use alternate modes of transportation for individual trips. ("It's a nice day, so I'll bike to work and save the $6 I would have spent on parking.")

This issue has nothing to do with patient parking. Market-based pricing of staff parking will reduce the demand for staff parking and increase hospital revenue, as well as freeing up more spaces for patients. The increased revenue from staff parking could be used to subsidize patient parking as needed.

If the market price rises enough, then it could be profitable for HHS to build additional parking ramps. (That they cannot currently afford to build parking ramps is another sign that their prices are artificially low.)

What Else Can Be Done

HHS has been shortchanged by chronic municipal underinvestment in in the infrastructure needed to support modes of transportation other than the private automobile. Competitor hospitals in Greater Toronto Area are increasingly served by frequent, rapid public transit routes.

For example, Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga is served by four local transit routes as well as an express bus, linking it directly to three nearby GO stations. Within a few years, Trillium will also be served by the Hurontario LRT line.

By contrast, HGH is served by a single local bus, the 2 Barton, as well as by the northbound leg - but not the southbound leg - of the 12 Wentworth. The 2 Barton service is relatively infrequent and slow, and the buses are often over capacity and have to pass by stops without being able to pick up passengers.

HGH is on none of the City's existing or proposed rapid transit routes and has no transit connection to Hamilton Mountain except through a transfer at MacNab transit terminal.

Possible solutions to this problem could include rerouting the A-Line express bus east along Barton to serve HGH; creation of an express bus route along Barton Street; or increasing the frequency of the existing 2 Barton service with other enhancements (e.g. signal priority at intersections) to improve the quality of service.

Needless to say, these solutions would require investment from the City of Hamilton, but Hamilton Health Sciences could publicly advocate for this sort of investment rather than accepting being left behind while neighbouring cities invest in their own hospitals.

HGH would also benefit from municipal investment in infrastructure to support cycling as a mode of transportation.

The hospital is only two blocks from the Cannon St. cycle track, which provides an excellent east-west cycling route across much of the city, and only six blocks from the Main-King transit corridor - an ideal distance for a commute using rapid transit for long-distance travel and Hamilton Bikeshare for the six blocks from King to Barton.

Unfortunately, there is no north-south route that is welcoming to prospective cyclists. Wellington and Victoria each have four lanes of high-speed, high-volume, pulsatile one-way traffic south of Barton, and West Avenue does not have a traffic light at any of its major intersections.

A possible solution to the poor cycling infrastructure would be a two-way separated cycle track on Wellington or Victoria from at least Main to Barton. Both Wellington and Victoria have excess lane capacity and could accommodate the loss of one general-purpose lane.

Again, it would be up to the City to build this infrastructure, but HHS could advocate for it.

Other hospitals have already made great strides towards proper transportation planning. An excellent example is Seattle Children's.

Equity Between Neighbourhoods

In 2014, when Victor Veri proposed to tear down a Pigott-constructed house on leafy St. James Place opposite the Charlton Campus of St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, residents of Durand objected in much the same way that Beasley residents are doing now.

The City of Hamilton quickly designated the house under the Ontario Heritage Act in order to protect it from demolition and prevent the creation of a parking lot (er, parking "area") on the property.

Beasley deserves the same treatment as Durand. Moreover, preventing the creation of a parking lot in our case doesn't even require an active step (listing a heritage building). Rather, the Planning Committee simply has to say "no" to an application to amend the official plan and zoning for these properties.

Conclusions

This parking lot expansion would be harmful to Beasley, would represent a policy inequity between neighbourhoods, and is not needed.

HHS has enough parking to meet the needs of its patients and staff as long as it stops subsidizing the latter at the expense of the former.

Investment in multimodal transportation system (by both HHS and the City of Hamilton) could further decrease the demand for hospital parking. Beasley residents and the BNA will continue to oppose the harmful proposal for surface parking expansion.

Text of the HHS Letter

Dear Neighbour,

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), has been a proud part of the north Hamilton community for many years. We are committed to world class health care that is designed to serve the needs of our community for generations to come.

In December 2015, HHS will open a new healthcare centre for children and their families on Wellington Street North. McMaster Children's Health Centre (MCHC) is the only centre of its kind in Canada, built to offer a range of special services for children, youth and their families, many of whom are dealing with life-long health issues.

Patients and families will visit the MCHC for child & youth mental health services, autism services, developmental pediatrics (help for children with physical disabilities), rehabilitative care, and prosthetics and orthotics (artificial limbs, splints and other supports). By locating these services together, the centre will create a new, more convenient experience for families.

You may also be interested to know that the MCHC will be a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) facility. This designation is a green building certification program that recognizes best‘in-class building strategies and practices. It will include pedestrian walkways, enhanced landscaping and 192 new trees to the surrounding area.

The MCHC resides on land formerly used for parking. With its construction, HHS has decreased the number of surface-top parking spaces we are operating in the neighborhood. Patients, families and staff who require vehicle transportation to visit the new MCHC will be provided ample parking nearby at the HHS Barton St. parking lot, which is currently undergoing renovations to accommodate the added volume.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 24, 2015, HHS will be holding a community information event from 7:00 pm. - 9:00 pm. at the Gymnasium at the Eva Rothwell Centre at Robert land, on 460 Wentworth Street North. We cordially invite you to attend this event to ask questions and learn more about the McMaster Wren's Health Centre.

Respectfully,

Your neighbours at Hamilton Health Sciences

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

21 Comments

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 09:33:01

Thanks John! I wish I had seen this sooner as I would have requested to make a written delegation, but I won't be able to do so today and can't make the meeting. Best of luck raising awareness and with pushing to stop the harmful paving.

I agree that the 2 route HSR service to the hospital is insufficient to needs. I've had to travel to HGH in the past that way, and service was less than one would expect.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 09:44:03 in reply to Comment 111376

Hi Tybalt, I wish I had posted it weeks ago. Problem is, advocacy is done in one's spare time, and with a busy career and two young children I don't have much of that. It's not too late to email council, though.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 09:38:59

Thanks for spreading the word on this less than transparent move to expand blacktop parking in Hamilton's parking Mecca: Beasley. I will echo the credit you give Hamilton Health Sciences for trying to engage with the BNA (albeit a little too little, and a a little too late), but on this matter, I think residents are right in not budging.

It makes me ask the fundamental question: What are hospitals supposed to do? I think the answer is "Make people better", but this proposed parking expansion just looks to externalize the negative health effects to local residents. Those already living near to HGH can look forward to all the negative social and health effects creeping closer to their properties as HHS looks to secure more parking (and potential revenue) from the rapidly developing area at Barton & Wellington.

HHS & HGH are important partners in the Beasley community, but it's not enough to talk the talk. HHS/HGH need to start acting like a good neighbour, and that begins by talking to residents and seriously understanding their concerns about blacktop expansion. It also means proper planning, so the next time that HHS digs a hole for a hospital, it should also be looking at underground parking so that neighbours don't have to pay the high price for hospital growth.

Comment edited by Borrelli on 2015-05-04 09:39:28

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 09:42:14 in reply to Comment 111377

Good points, Mike. I didn't address this in the piece -- it was already long enough -- but I understand that they opted against underground parking because it was seen to be too expensive. Again, that's a failure of pricing: if they charged market price to their own staff, then it would likely become economical to build underground parking.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 04, 2015 at 11:17:50

I work at HGH. Well, behind HGH, at the research building.

In the interest of accuracy, there are two CanadaWide private lots close to HGH - one at Victoria and Barton that takes $5.50/day, and one at Victoria just past the CN tracks that takes $4.50 a day ($65/mo). The latter is never full, but is gradually creeping upward in utilization... I expect to see it full when the new building opens. The former, being closer, is often near or at capacity - it's also a complete eyesore of dirt.

On the plus side, HGH does provide free employee bike-parking in their parking structure, which works well with its proximity to the Cannon bike tracks and and a bike-share rack - the lack of safe lanes on Victoria and Wellington stinks though, and the lack of a convenient way to get to Ferguson (Barton is not good for cycling, I don't care what the city's maps say). HHS also runs a shuttle between its various hospitals, but I've never tried that.

Many of my co-workers do take the bus. The #2 isn't anybody's favorite experience, but service is frequent (as is the frustration of standing on the wrong side of King Street when your connecting bus pulls away).

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 19:58:55 in reply to Comment 111380

Hi Pxtl, thanks for the insightful comments. That there is unused space in private lots in the area just proves that this additional parking is not needed.

I agree that HHS has been a leader in providing high-quality on-site bicycle parking for employees. But I expect that many people who might be willing to cycle to work are put off by the lack of a decent connection from Cannon (for example) to the hospital. Anecdotally, I have at least one colleague at St. Joe's (Charlton) who would like to cycle to work but won't because she's not comfortable approaching the hospital along James, John, or Charlton -- all of which are much less intimidating than Barton, Wellington, or Victoria.

The HHS shuttle, unfortunately, has been cancelled.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 11:20:12

Very frustrating!! I spoke against the initial parking lot at the planning committee back in 2009, arguing that it conflicted the then-pending Setting Sail Secondary Plan. Now that Setting Sail is in place, I can't believe it is still being ignored!

The argument back in 2009 was also that it did not prevent future residential development. In fact, then-councillor Bob Bratina touted it as a win for the neighbourhood because environmental remediation was (supposedly) done to the property before being paved over. Ironically, lands used as parking lots typically require remediation before they can be used for residential because of years of oil leaks, gas spills, etc.

Another parallel / connection to the Victor Veri Durand saga - Veri was one of the largest opponents to the lot back in 2009 (he owns some of the lots surrounding HGH, though he insisted that had nothing to do with his stance on the development).

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By Selway (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 22:32:20 in reply to Comment 111381

"I spoke against the initial parking lot at the planning committee back in 2009, arguing that it conflicted the then-pending Setting Sail Secondary Plan. Now that Setting Sail is in place, I can't believe it is still being ignored!"

It is weirder than that. The argument in 2009 and today is that the parking lot is an interim use and so does not impede the eventual use as residential/commercial. (I'll get back to that in a moment.) However, this time out, PED is also saying that when, in August of 2013, the Urban Hamilton Official Plan came into "force and effect", lands within the West Harbour Secondary Plan remained "subject to Non-Decision 113, which means that the West Harbour Secondary Plan area is not included within the Urban Hamilton Official Plan and that it is still subject to the applicable policies within the former City of Hamilton Official Plan." (Beasley residents may wish to ask their councillor to tell them what this might mean. )

What are the "applicable policies within the former City of Hamilton Official Plan"? Well, "Section B (Servicing Strategy) and Section C (Amenity and Design Strategy) would still be applicable." Thus:

"Subsection B.3.3 - Public and Private Parking The Plan recognizes the importance of PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PARKING facilities. In this regard, it is intended that adequate PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PARKING facilities are available and will continue to serve the City without interfering with the efficient flow of traffic movement. B.3.3.1 Council will maintain and enhance the supply of short-term PARKING in the City through the operation of the Municipal Parking Authority and requirements for the provisions of PRIVATE PARKING."

It is actually somewhat trickier than I have indicated, but here I have to confess that the explanation staff provides about the relationship between the West Harbour aka Setting Sail secondary plan and the legacy policies from the old Official Plan is not comprehensible to me.

Returning to the main issue (at least in the view of PED), staff go so far as to say that the expansion of the surface parking is an improvement.

"The proposed parking lot is intended as an interim use until the ultimate land use is implemented. While this may take some time due to market conditions and remediation costs, the proposed parking lot represents an improvement over current site conditions (vacant and underdeveloped former industrial land) while providing a needed service for Hamilton General Hospital."

Note the invocation of remediation costs. In point of fact, placing a layer of impermeable asphalt over contaminated soils is not an improvement. It adds to cost of wastewater treatment, and constitutes one more pollutant to be removed during the eventual remediation of the site. PED is in effect recommending that the owner of this property be granted a license to pollute, one which will allow him or her to earn an income by leasing the lot to the hospital indefinitely, and which is a disincentive to development.

Of course, the picture would change if the landowner was obliged by PED and by the client (HHS) to undertake some serious remediation of the soils prior to laying down the pavement. In that case, the parking lot would be a step toward the ultimate use. Deciding just how much clean-up would be a genuine help toward residential development would be a little complicated, but not more than the existing risk-management plan under which the land north and south of Barton is handled now.

The 1995 staff report on the original parking lot contains some sketches showing remediation to a rather shallow depth in the landscaped verges of the lot, but there is no discussion of what will occur beneath the asphalt. I can recall seeing hunks of this and that being removed, so something was done. But if the interim-use argument were meant to be taken seriously, one would expect to see staff discussion of the Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments for both the 2009 lot and the proposed extensions, as well as the final Record of Site Condition for the 2009 lot. (A phase I ESA tells you what contaminants might be found, judging by the historical uses of the site; a phase II tells you what is actually there.) With this information one could begin to develop a plan for remediation. In its absence, the proposition that taking two patches of open, permeable land, laying down some gravel and placing some asphalt on top, is an "improvement", is, um, an exaggeration.

The secondary plan termed the Wellington Ferguson corridor an area of "major change". The change set out in the plan was primarily toward residential. HHS is transferring 300 staff from its Chedoke complex to the new building. Too bad they can't move downtown and just walk to work. But of course, for that to happen, we would have to sacrifice some of that surface parking to buildings. And why is that new hospital building where it is? Probably because HHS thinks its Chedoke lands are more valuable, probably for housing. So the mountain gets condos, and we get blacktop. Perfect.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 04, 2015 at 12:08:07

I think complaining about Barton service is a little off - The #2 has incredibly frequent service. It just also has so much ridership and so little headroom that the schedule is a complete work of fiction. The next bus is always scheduled only a couple of minutes away. It just happens to be full, or late, pontooned with 2 other buses that are also full, or late. I assume the hair-pin turn at John is why we don't see artics on this route, but they would be nice.

My personal problem with the #2 is that it has a strange route downtown - it basically doesn't intersect with the #5. Eastbound it stops at Jackson instead of Main, and Westbound it dumps you on the wrong side of King and you get to wait at the red light while your bus pulls away.

As for bike lanes: there is a bike lane on Victoria. It goes northbound and starts from Barton. It was done when they re-built the pipes under the road.

No, I don't know why they didn't give it a counterpart on Wellington. No, I don't know why it doesn't extend down to Cannon.

There are also bike lanes on Ferguson. The best way to get from HGH to Ferguson is to bike through the parking lots, because Barton is not good to cyclists.

edit:

Also, I reiterate my plan for the D(runkard's walk)-line:

http://i.imgur.com/YaANyfV.png

It only does everything!

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-05-04 12:12:39

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 20:07:39 in reply to Comment 111383

You know, you're right about frequency on 2 Barton. I was overinterpreting my own experience of pass-bys and bunched buses. The nominal frequency is every 7.5 minutes during peak hours, which is pretty darn good. The unreliability, poor connections, and frequent pass-bys still leave a lot of room for improvement. And turning the A-line east on Barton as far as HGH would vastly improve accessibility from the Mountain.

The bike lane heading north on Victoria from Barton can't be useful to more than a couple of people. I was unaware of the route from Ferguson through the parking lots. Reminds me of the Swiss Chalet shortcut from Bay and York through to Napier: great for the 1% of most committed cyclists (like me and you), but useless for promoting cycling as a mainstream means of transportation. The frustrating thing is that a two-way cycle track on Victoria from Cannon to the main entrance of HGH would inconvenience practically no one given how overbuilt Victoria is.

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By HHTGF (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 12:52:07

The City will rubberstamp this HHS request, they always do.
The good news is that this decision can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, who will hopefully look positively on these cogent arguments.
Good luck with it !

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By Too Bad (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 13:49:28

Too bad taxes per parking space haven't caught on. They could be used to support alternatives to needing them.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 04, 2015 at 14:14:18 in reply to Comment 111391

Parking space levy was part of the raft of revenue tools suggested by Metrolinx when discussing how to pay for the transit modernization plan. Horwath voted it down at the time.

Now the Liberals have a majority, but they have opted not to continue with that approach.

And that's why we're selling Hydro One.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 16:53:27

Here are the members of Planning Committee. I would suggest that we each email them with our concerns.

J. Partridge (Chair) B. Johnson (1st Vice Chair) M Pearson (2nd Vice Chair) C. Collins D. Conley J. Farr M. Green A. Johnson R. Pasuta

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 04, 2015 at 19:18:27

Any HHS employee receiving subsidized parking is receiving a "Taxable Benefit" and I hope that is being reflected in their taxable income.

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By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted May 05, 2015 at 16:06:21 in reply to Comment 111400

it is a taxable benefit. and i don't think making staff pay the standard rate for parking will really solve anything. as a resident of downtown, who lives by a hospital, i agree more parking spaces are a blight and not a good way of planning healthy communities.

on the other hand, as a healthcare provider who occasionally works at the general amongst other sites in the city, i don't see how most HHS staff who live in hamilton (not to even speak of those who do not) could reasonably get to work. the barton line is abysmal, being overcrowded and slow at the best of times. if you are not directly on the route (and not many staff would be) you will be taking quite a long and unpleasant trip to get there at 7 am.

biking anywhere near there is awful. i would usually take ferguson down to barton but that stretch of barton is not bike friendly. also, a lack of places to lock up a bike if you manage to get to your destination doesn't help. HHS has not done well with making their work locations very accommodating to those who use active transportation.

it seems a little vitriolic to state that the staff should shoulder the blame for this when they have made the choice to work for an organization serving the hamilton community in careers that provide solid middle class incomes to people from varied education and experiential backgrounds. the low wage, precarious service work in the shops on streets everyone in this city loves to gloat about endlessly aren't the key to a sustainable and healthy future.

the city has long neglected this community, and continues to do so. stopping this parking lot will help, but not if they don't invest money in proper infrastructure. seeing as how living near barton isn't going to appeal to toronto transplants, i wouldn't count on it.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 06, 2015 at 09:32:15 in reply to Comment 111414

There's an important distinction to be made when heralding public sector organizations such as HHS as drivers of our economy. Yes, they provide many middle to high income jobs. But, they do not generate wealth, rather, they redistribute it by funnelling tax dollars into our city. An economy built on public institutions (as Hamilton's is increasingly becoming) is a false and unsustainable one.

Small shops are 'gloated' on because they signal a healthy private sector, albeit, one that is propped up by the good paying jobs provided by the public sector.

Most importantly, this is not an either / or situation. We need institutions like HHS. We need small shops. We also need a host of private and public institutions between these two economic poles to ensure a vibrant, economically sustainable city.

So while we must support initiatives by HHS, we must temper this support by ensuring that it does not compromise the future economic viability of our city by sacrificing long term potential for present day short-sighted 'needs' such as surface parking.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 05, 2015 at 16:25:16 in reply to Comment 111414

McMaster has put a pretty big effort into managing parking demand and only a very small proportion of the McMaster community commutes by car. Nevertheless, they could do more to increase the lowest parking rates (currently $46 on the other side of Cootes) so they are at least as expensive as a bus pass (the highest rate is currently $101at underground lots).

http://parking.mcmaster.ca/Rates.html

http://tlchamilton.blogspot.ca/2013/03/how-is-mcmaster-doing-with-parking.html http://www.mcmaster.ca/sustainability/do...

Note that McMaster has about 4400 parking spots in total, and over 35,000 students and staff. The total number of full time students is about 27,000 (undergrad and grad), so there is only 0.16 parking spot per student.

This suggests that over 85% of the McMaster community does not drive to the campus, especially as parking is severely restricted in the neighbourhoods around campus. McMaster has actually decreased the amount of surface parking.

Even if you discount students, almost 40% of staff and faculty do not drive: over 10% cycle, over 15% take transit and 10% walk. Of those driving, 24% car pool.

What are the modal splits for HHS?

Has HHS made reducing demand for parking a priority? What have they done to encourage staff not to drive or to car pool (how does the rate compare to Mac's 24%)? Have they tried to negotiate a discounted transit pass? Have they lobbied for better HSR service? Have they tried to have cycle lanes improved around their hospitals?

They do seem to be putting a lot of effort into expanding surface parking, even hinting at a possible OMB appeal of the City's decision.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-05-05 16:57:51

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2015 at 16:15:59 in reply to Comment 111414

There's a bike lock-up in the big parking structure at ground-level. Talk to the security desk in the lower floor of the main building and they'll add your pass to access the locker.

I agree that the bike-lanes and transit to HGH are disappointing, but the bike storage there is actually excellent.

Personally, I go flat-out up Victoria/Wellington to get to Cannon, but I know many people go through the construction-site walkway and Ferguson parking-lot to get to/from Ferguson.

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By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted May 05, 2015 at 16:28:57 in reply to Comment 111415

unfortunately i'm external staff so i'm out of luck, but this is good to know! i'll be at the new site more often now but the bike storage is not close to complete, no idea about change/shower rooms either.

having these amenities makes a huge difference in habits. when i had easily accessible bike storage and shower facilities i not only rode my bike to work, i rode for community appointments also. some municipalities have also built in increased mileage reimbursements for those who use active transportation.

if HHS decided to increase staff parking fees to cover these amenities and reimbursement for transit use, i would be supportive. i just don't think this location is very conducive to those means for most staff unless the transport infrastructure was changed significantly.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 05, 2015 at 12:21:46

Sounds like the expansion was voted down this morning. A big thanks to John and the BNA for their work on this!!

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