Revitalization

Pan Am Facilities Need Downtown or Waterfront Location

By Jason Leach
Published February 19, 2009

The Pan Am Games committee just announced that a permanent velodrome is back on the table for Hamilton. They plan on twinning it with a new stadium in the city.

Now, more than ever, it is vital that we push city council to make the right decision on the location for our stadium.

Downtown, or possibly the West Harbour, should be the only areas even considered for these two top-notch facilities. Now knowing that a veldrome will be built permanently as part of the stadium, the possible spinoff effect potential is even greater than previously thought.

Imagine the hundreds of thousands of people that will come to these facilities for football, track and field, concerts, cycling events, festivals, high school sports and potential soccer, cricket and other outdoor stadium events.

To locate this facility with its massive spinoff potential by the airport instead of abandoned lots downtown or empty warehouses along the West Harbour would be one of the worst decisions made by a city council in many years.

It's not every day that over $100 million in world-class facility spending is proposed for downtown Hamilton. The impact on our economy and image would be worth much more than that.

We have one decision to make in the next week. Let's make the right one.

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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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 09:08:09

It does not make sense to cover good farmland, considering the economic downturn and the issue of food security for many in our community. Maybe if farmers were treated better, meaning that what they do is very vital to the communty as a whole, instead of putting emphasis that the money men are what make the world go around. If we do not eat, then where are we? Why truck in food, when we can grow it right here?

It does make sense to recapture the brownfields in this city and to make this land viable and productive.

Mayor Fred, in his campaign speeches emphasis that the brownfields in this city need to be addressed, if this city is to move forward.

In a brief research, I found that many cities in the US have made significant moves in this area. What is wrong with our leaders?

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By Block43 (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 09:38:51

I like the idea of a downtown location for a stadium but my concern is that they are only used a few times a week for events (at best) the remainder of the time there is a blank streetwall, no eyes on the street, etc.

It would be great if the stadium could have retail fronting Barton and Stuart Stuart. It will help to create a sense of security in the area. As the area intensifies with residential (hopefully, and not surface parking) there will be a nice commercial area for the community.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 10:14:05

I agree, we can't be at the airport. There is insufficient public transit out there, no homes out there within walking distance. We might as well build it in St. Catherines for all the good it will do the city.

Downtown would be interesting, I don't think I actually know where in the downtown the stadium is being proposed. I don't think it should displace housing (we definitely need the people down there). That said if it's a true mutli-use facility, and can be designed so that there are shops occupying the main floor, facing outwards, so they'll have retail tenants year round, I think it could be an enormous success downtown, when paired with an exisiting retail street. Of course I think the same could be said of a waterfront location. We need a stadium that can be occupied year round by at least some tenants, and it should not be in the middle of nowhere, those tenants will rely on being in a convenient and accessible location.

God I hope they don't mess this up...

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 11:07:46

the city's plans for the area call for a commercial/retail hub at the corner of Barton and Hess (or thereabouts). It would certainly make sense to build this complex with retail, sports bars, cafes, patio space facing central park or bayfront park etc..... a true mixed use complex that will serve needs of local residents as well as be a draw and major attraction 10 minutes from downtown and right by the waterfront. Perhaps a promenade can be designed along the stadium with a Hess Village/Augusta St type of feel with large patios, pubs, shopping etc....

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By David (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 11:21:01

re: Sam Merulla
I sent a detailed email listing why he should support this using the City's FUTURE LEGACY FUND (which would not affect taxes), and this was his response:

"Thanks for your input but its unaffordable and unsustainable.

Thank You,

Councillor Sam Merulla"

It was sent within 2 mins of me sending my email, meaning he didn't even have enough consideration to read it.

What a joke of a 'public representative'... I can't wait for the next elections (which are fast approaching) as Sam is obviously stuck in status quo and needs to be replaced ASAP!

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By H Magazine (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 11:52:33

Here's what I got from ol' Sammy based off the last response:

SAM SAID: (COURTESY OF SOMEONE ON RAISETHEHAMMER)

"Thanks for your input but its unaffordable and unsustainable.

Thank You,

Councillor Sam Merulla"

I SAID

But so is the Red Hill Valley Expressway. But you steamrolled that one through...and what has it gotten us?

Sam SAID:

The difference my friend is the Parkway has mitigated traffic in the east end and has been a catalyst to assessment growth ie, Lowes, Princess Auto, the largest urban redevelopment in Canada at the Centre Mall and much more. Not to mention that my neighbours and I strongly support the Parkway unlike the stadium. Ergo there is a significant difference. Many thanks for your input.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 13:05:06

"mitigated traffic in the east end"??? LOL

"largest urban redevelopment in Canada"??? LOL I didn't realize that suburban power centres with 12 drive thru's was considered an "urban" redevelopment. Good work Sam.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2009 at 13:18:54

wow.

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By steeltown (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 13:22:08

Just to let you know.....Sam Merulla is on Cable 14 tonight, 7pm I believe, for Hamilton Hotline. Good chance for you guys to grill him live on tv.

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By H Magazine (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 13:22:11

My response:

Sam - the examples you just gave me don't make me proud to be an born and raised east-ender. It actually makes me cringe when I go through that part of town.

When I talk about what makes Hamilton great - the first things out of my mouth are not "Well we are really proud to have destroyed a beautiful valley - so that corporations could open up big box stores and truly make a retail disaster out of the Centre Mall site."

No one chooses to live in a city based on its big box stores. EVERY city has them. What will make our city stand out from the rest?

Honestly - tell me that the "largest urban redevelopment in Canada" couldn't have been the best urban redevelopment in Canada. It looks like hell down there. It tells me nothing of the character of that part of town. When I visit my relatives on Fairfield Street and travel along Barton Street - I could be anywhere - Whitby, Ajax, etc. it's all starting to look the same!

I am not against development or corporations. I just want Hamilton to do better.

What's happening in the East End is not good for the city. Council's bungling of City Hall is a disgrace. I'm beginnning to fear our elected officials will not make the right decision concerning the Pan-Am games. This isn't just about a stadium - this is about vision.

What kind of city do you want to live in?

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 14:04:04

Great response HMag. You're bang on. These clowns always pull out the "anti-development" crutch when someone opposes all the crap they approve. TVO had a great documentary last night about Jane Jacobs as well as current communities trying to oppose and improve bad development (Toronto, NYC, Vancouver).
Sam did a wonderful job using the Spec to convince his constituents that Centre Mall would be a great, pedestrian friendly, mixed-use project. RTH called him on it years ago. Sadly, the local media and power brokers didn't. As usual.

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By H Magazine (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 14:40:12

Sam's response:

I want to live in a city that can prioritize based on needs and not wants. We need hard infrastructure! Not another legacy of wasted taxpayer money with absolutely no financial benefit. Let's agree to disagree.

Thank You,

Councillor Sam Merulla,

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By east-ended (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 14:43:25

"We need hard infrastructure! Not another legacy of wasted taxpayer money with absolutely no financial benefit."

coughcoughREDHILLVALLEYPARKWAYcoughcough

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 16:40:25

If I lived in the east end, I'd be outraged by this comment from Sam: ..."not ANOTHER legacy of wasted taxpayer money with absolutely no financial benefit."

In other words, Ivor Wynne and Jimmy Thompson pool are legacies of wasted taxpayer money with no financial benefit???

I have friends who learned how to swim in Jimmy Thompson pool. Our only national sports team (one of the oldest on the continent) plays in Ivor Wynne after all these years.

Seeing the garbage at Centre Mall and hearing these comments make it quite clear. If this councillor had his way, we'd live in a city full of nothing but roads and parking lots. Yippee. I'm sure that will turn East Hamilton into a Canadian hotspot and Top 10 most livable neighbourhoods in Canada. It's not even close to making Top 100 or Top 1,000 with leadership like this. Sadly, I can't feel sorry for any residents in that part of town. They keep voting him in. Enjoy it.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2009 at 17:17:38

Earth to Sam:

One of the most well understood, empirically studied-to-death facts about urban planning is that expressways make traffic worse in the long run.

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By EastInfection (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 20:17:34

I live in the East end and use the RHVP almost daily. It cuts off about 15 mins to Milton and to my friend on Central mountain mere minutes with less stop and start, so easy on vehicle and less time in traffic. I see I am not the only one. i heard from a friend 45 mins less from London to lower Mississauga (QEW).
So it is better and I still hike the valley. Like the Don Valley now. multi use/
Just how many people who are so Anti RHVP walk it or did so on a regular basis.
I like the Centre Mall.
But I am all for using the brownfields for the PanAm stadium. This would be great for the area and way better than ivor Whynne.
Sell the old stadium for condo or townhouses as there is a new school across the street.
However Sam has to go. there is not enough room on the screen for him and his ego. Sometimes it about the job not a media clip.
If the new stadium is designed right we could get 10 times the use out of it. concerts, soccer, Around the Bay race, Aquafest, wing fest . it would be wise to get some other 24/7 activities down that way for security. Maybe some waterfront condo's with a Via station close at hand.
A pedestrian bridge over the tracks to bayfront would be excellent for parking or a school bus drop off point for taverns that sponsor Ti-cat games.
So much for such a dead area now.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 04:11:13

has anyone thrown out the idea of the Sir John A. site? i know bob bratina wanted to redevelop that very large parcel of land a couple of years ago by selling it of to a developer to putup a hotel. might it be better to put a highschool by the water and a stadium by copps? just a thought, i still don't know how i feel about the whole thing.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 08:28:02

I'm behind East Infection...despite the name lol. The Red Hill has helped take traffic out of my neighbourhood around Centennial and it cuts down on my trips up the mountain.

I'd love to see a waterfront stadium/velodrome. I like Jason's suggestion about creating an atmosphere with patios etc.

WHy is Merulla around? Because there are enough old people who like things the way they were in his riding to vote for him.

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By Earnest (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 08:39:25

Hey Frank didn't you write somewhere else on RTH that your a traffic engineer? Surely you've heard about induced travel and generated traffic. Wait'll Desantis builds out the bajillion dollar Sum-It Park then we'll see how much faster Red Hill is then.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2009 at 08:59:38

Frank,

The venerable Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI) just published an excellent study on induced demand and generated traffic.

http://www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf

He opens the paper with:

"Traffic engineers often compare traffic to a fluid, assuming that a certain volume must flow through the road system. But urban traffic may be more comparable to a gas that expands to fill available space".

He concludes:

"Generated traffic has three implications for transport planning. First, it reduces the congestion reduction benefits of road capacity expansion. Second, it increases many external costs. Third, it provides relatively small user benefits because it consists of vehicle travel that consumers are most willing to forego when their costs increase."

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By Earnest (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 09:11:32

^^Yah that's the very piece i was thinking about.

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By Magifromtheeast (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:10:28

Are you still on the Red Hill Parkway????? It has been a boon to the city and I'm glad it was built...about 20 years too late...so stop whining and get with the program...as for PanAm..i like the site on top of the hill connecting to the RHVP. Downtown is for losers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:22:28

for those looking to learn more about this topic without reading heady university research documents, just ask to join a flight in one of Los Angeles' traffic helicopters. You'll get a first hand view of what non-stop road building produces.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:36:09

Magifromtheeast wrote:

Are you still on the Red Hill Parkway?????

Ah, Hamilton: live and don't learn, that's our philosophy.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 11:26:37

It was funny, yet sad, watching the TVO documentary on Jane Jacobs the other night. It showed video footage of hundreds of citizens with "STOP THE FREEWAY" signs in NYC and Toronto in the 60's and 70's. The Manhattan Expressway was proposed to cut through Manhattan and wipe out what we now refer to as Greenwich Village, SoHo, Tribeca, Little Italy etc.....

Toronto's Spadina Expressway would have wiped out the present day amazing street of Spadina, Chinatown, Kensington Market and wonderful residential neighbourhoods around it.

Thank goodness those cities had visionary leaders and citizens willing to fight for the future. Hamilton didn't do expropriation for a full-out freeway, but we effectively did the same thing along Main, King, Cannon, York, James, Market Square etc.... for pseudo-freeways in the form of 5-lane one-way highways with timed lights.

Too bad we stopped being ambitious and that the previous generation sat on their duffs instead of preserving our greatest urban neighbourhoods for the future. At least we know we can visit Toronto or NYC if we want a true fix of urban life. It's a shame though. We had it all right here.

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By I remember (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 15:24:09

It took 50 years to build the east-end expressway because 50 years ago some visionary "leader" decided that the best location was the Red Hill Valley, and not to utilize the Hwy. 20 mountain access already built, and, if not to go down what was to become Centennial Pkwy, to curve it through orchards and down the then undeveloped areas around Nash Road. Even then citizens saw Kings Forest and the valley as an unspoiled asset so Hamilton missed out on an expressway when it might have used one to service traffic into and out of a booming north-end industrial area.

Fifty years later, after the decline of North American manufacturing was in full swing, we got one, we were told, to serve an industrial park that would come to the south-east mountain if we built it. We built it. It hasn't come. Instead we have more costly residential urban sprawl, built coincidentally by the folks who contributed to the campaign fund of a mayor who pushed it through. Oh, and the box stores. We have the box stores.

Well it's done and to hell with it. Might as well save the five to ten minute commute and see if Lowes has what Home Depot doesn't, as that's the only benefit the (what was it? $400,000,000?) expense delivered.

That said, I'm with Sammy on this one. Build the stadium in the wrong place and it's worse than not building it at all. Better to use the Future Fund (and whoever said that's not taxpayers' money?) on eco-friendly and energy efficient infrastructure that will improve quality of life and save the city (hence, taxpayers) money in the future, than on something that might make a few of us feel good about ourselves for about ten minutes a day and cost millions to maintain.

Location, location, location.

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By sour crepes (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 15:45:36

No, no, no, I remember! That's not how it's supposed to work.

You're not supposed to talk about the promises made before the Red Hill Expressway was built and whether they have come true. you're not supposed to check and see whether the expressway actually delivered the goods. That's being negative and living in the past.

You're only suppose to repeat the mantra, the expressway is built, time to move on, stop living in the past.

Just in time for the Mid Peninsula Highway, which we are told will be great for business and serve a new industrial park that will produce all kinds of great new jobs.

And if you oppose THAT expressway, it means your anti business, and when they build it and the jobs don't materialize, you won't be allowed to point it out because the expressway is built, time to move on, stop living in the past.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 18:28:04

sour crepes,

you paint an absolutely perfect picture of the scenario. it's a shame that we've had political leaders willing to spend half a billion dollars on something and then refuse to evaluate the success or failure of the massive expenditure. Granted, I understand why they refuse to - it will show their track record (and show the fruition of concerns brought forth by the 'crazy, wacko activists' who dared speak up about it). Not a single industrial tenant, but a ton of box stores, overloaded urban infrastructure, lower city flooding, growing debt and more sprawl - just like the opponents predicted.

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By common sense (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 13:00:07

Stupid idea. I saw the photo in the Spec of how it is supposed to look. It looks like they're just going to put up some wooden seats in the middle of a park. This is going to cost us 60 million? And the who is going to want to go see a Tigetcats game in the middle of winter with the cold coming off the lake? Also how much money are they going to have to pay to the people who's homes they want to steal? Plus the preperation of the land on top of that. It will cost much more than 60 million. I think a better idea would be for the mayor to resign. Every decision he has made has been horrible for the city. It seems his ideas only get more stupid.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 16:43:43

Common sense >> I think a better idea would be for the mayor to resign.

Let the guy keep his job, but also mandate hard limits on his ability to waste the taxpayers money. If Hamilton installed hard caps on spending, say inflation plus population growth, he could still make stupid decisions, just not as many.

If we assume that politicians will always waste money, because they didn't have to work for it, they also need to be treated like children. Give them a set allowance and if there is a big ticket item they want for Xmas, they will have to save for it. This way, Hamilton will finally be able to bring down it's tax rates to the GTA average, which will encourage much more private investment and ultimately turn this city around.

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