The Long Walk

By Jason Leach
Published August 19, 2005

A recent article in the Brabant Newspapers illustrates the trouble with our city being controlled by a bunch of NIMBY residents. At issue is the location of a new set of bike friendly stairs to link the east mountain to the lower city.

Yes, that's right, folks: stairs. Not a bar, nightclub or strip joint, but a set of (apparently) rowdy, property-devaluing stairs. One of Hamilton's iconic staples is our escarpment stairs, which are widely used by people who travel frequently up and down in our city, as well as people exercising, sightseeing and enjoying Hamilton's various vistas.

Residents in the area have complained, and in typical fashion the city went scurrying back into their little cave at city hall to try and come up with new locations to appease all the whiners. The end result? The stairs are split in two locations almost 300 meters apart.

If you travel along these stairs, you will have a 300 metre walk along the rail trail halfway up the mountain to locate the 'other' half of the stairs to continue your journey. That's not all. The delays have cost you and me $600,000, as the price of steel has risen sharply over the past few years. The original price tag was $500,000; that is now up to $1.1 million.

I would suggest that city hall recoup this money from the NIMBYers and crybabies who have caused the delay. What a shame it would be if there were actual real human beings exercising and walking in their neighbourhood instead of the usual roar of cars and trucks, which certainly don't harm property values, air quality or general quality of life with their constant honking and squealing.

Probably the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal is that our city administration once again shows its complete lack of leadership. I can understand neighbours wanting some say if a 30 storey tower was being proposed or a recycling plant wanted to locate in the area, but we're talking about a set of stairs through the escarpment.

Once again, we see how much our society has been trained to believe the lie that anything but roads and highways is second rate and unimportant. Most residents in the east mountain were overwhelmingly in favour of blasting the escarpment to smithereens so they could shave six minutes off their trips to Toronto, but a set of stairs has them up in arms.

I pity the general public who is about to be rudely awakened by rising oil prices and the diminishing value of cars, trucks and other oil-dependant modes of transport as we move forward in the next decade. The 'ancient' act of walking will once again regain its value in this warped, selfish society. Unfortunately, folks in this part of town will have to walk an extra 300 metres, thanks to their predecessors.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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