Transportation

Durand Neighbourhood Association: 'Shock and Extreme Disappointment' at Transportation Master Plan Decision

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published July 13, 2008

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I am writing on behalf of the Durand Neighbourhood Association (DNA) to express our shock and extreme disappointment that Council has refused to approve the Downtown Transportation Master Plan last week.

This plan has been carefully developed by staff based on extensive input from residents and community groups like the DNA. We are surprised that council would reject both the expert opinion of staff and the practical experience of the residents who have put years of work into developing a comprehensive and balanced transportation plan.

Furthermore, every urban designer and architect who has visited Hamilton has urged immediate two-way conversion of downtown streets. The speakers and participants at the Pedestrian Workshop hosted by the City last year said the same thing. How can Council simply ignore the hard evidence and public input resulting from the process it itself put in place?

In particular, Council should take very seriously the fact that this Plan has strong support from those most affected: the residents of the downtown neighbourhoods (and our Councillor)!

A healthy downtown functions as a people place and needs to encourage strolling, window shopping and street life. The speeding waves of traffic on our one-way expressways have made our downtown dangerous, unproductive and unpleasant.

It is the DNA's opinion that this plan will make downtown safer and more attractive for both residents and businesses. We have already seen the economic payoff of the two-way conversion of James and John: new businesses, growth of the tax base and a flourishing arts scene.

Even those initially sceptical of two-way conversion (such as the president of the Chamber of Commerce and some James N merchants) now recognize the boost it has given to the local economy. There is no need for any further study or delay!

We are particularly concerned that some councillors specifically oppose two-way conversion of downtown streets. The DNA has officially supported two-way conversion for many years, and we have been extremely pleased with the results of the two-way conversion of Hess and Caroline streets that has eliminated street racing on Hess and improved safety for residents (without impeding traffic).

In addition, the proven economic benefits of two-way conversion mean that the conversions pay for themselves in increased property values and economic activity. We have been disappointed at the very slow pace of two-way conversion, despite its proven success. Stopping further two-way conversion would be a retrograde step for the city and a disaster for downtown!

We urge Council to approve the Downtown Transportation Master Plan, as developed by staff in consultation with residents, as soon as possible.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 08:56:09

great letter. Many of us downtown residents have long suspected that certain councillors want downtown to fail (it makes their boring wards a viable option for people to move to who otherwise would get the heck out with better options). Now we know this to be true. The proof is all around us on James and John. Traffic moves fine and business is picking up. They were able to claim fear or ignorance (I think they've got that one cornered permanently) BEFORE the initial round of conversions, even though examples across the continent were more than enough proof that it was a no-brainer. But now that we've already been enjoying the successful rebirth on those streets, their agenda can't be hidden anymore behind the 'unknown'. They know full well it works now and voted to halt progress in it's tracks. That's one thing our politicians are experts at in this city.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 16:47:22

let's compare property values on streets that run parallel and are in close proximity to one another:

Bay (1 way) vs Caroline (2 way)
Queen (1 way) vs Locke St (2 way)
Aberdeen (2 way - or extreme traffic calming measures in the 1 way section) vs Main or King (1 way)

In most cases you find at least 15% higher property values on 2 way streets. Even if you are the type who only cares about tax revenues and the bottom line, it is a no brainer. 2 way streets have higher property values and therefore pay more property taxes. Forget about the street life, cultural value, ease for visitors exploring the city...

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