Revitalization

Canada Walks Hamilton Case Study

By RTH Staff
Published February 22, 2010

Canada Walks has prepared a report on walkability in Hamilton that they will present to the city's Board of Health today. You can download a copy (PDF link) of the study.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 15:55:44

Our tax dollars paid for this garbage???

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 16:15:38

I agree with Capitalist. As Ryan pointed out on this thread, we don't need more walkability studies. We need more walkability. I am sick of my tax dollars being spent on redundant studies instead of on fixing our broken transportation infrastructure.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 21:06:44

but studies are an easy way for politicians to try to get us to believe that they are on the cusp of doing something. It's been about 20 years since the parade of studies started, telling us to get rid of the one-way freeways downtown and make Hamilton safer to walk and cycle around. And guess what? We're still doing more studies. And transport trucks are still using downtown Hamilton as their shortcut instead of the multi-billion $ freeway network that completely rings the city. Yippee.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 21:34:08

Oh my God, you're right Jason, I just realized we now have a ring road around the city!

If only there were something that completed the ring over by the waterfront, or through the downtown, that way trucks that had to go to both Burlington and Niagara falls wouldn't have to detour on the Linc...

Oh wait, they already use Main Street for that!

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 21:52:32

look at the ring road highway system in TO and compare it to ours. They're a much bigger city and the ring road is much larger around the core - Gardiner/427/401/DVP.

Hamilton's ring road system is 403/Linc/RHVP/QEW.

I've driven from downtown Hamilton to Centennial Pkwy via the 403/QEW in less than 15 minutes. I've also gone from downtown to Greenhill Avenue area via 403/Linc/RHVP in 15 minutes as well. That is perfectly acceptable timing for a truck. There's no way they are getting from the 403 to Centennial in less than 15 minutes.
It's just an old habit that is being perpetuated by our lousy planning and lack of basic street changes downtown. Tell a truck driver to use Yonge or Dundas as their shortcut through TO and see what they say. It's insanity in any real city anywhere. Let's convert Cannon/York/Main/Wilson and King and put up new truck route signage directing the trucks to keep the wheels moving on the highways. Residents will also use these routes once they discover that it is quicker than driving through the entire lower city.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 06:19:20

Don't forget Victoria (scroll down a bit...) and Wellington.

I don't expect the truck routes through the lower city to change. Realistically, there will always be truck routes, and Main/Cannon are just as reasonable as any other streets. The problem isn't that there are truck routes, or where they are. The problem is that the infrastructure is set up to encourage trucks to use those routes rather than driving around the city. It's not just the one-way streets. Even desynchronizing the lights would probably be enough to convince many truck drivers to use highways rather than city streets.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 09:33:39

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 09:43:21

Capitalist,

I respect your opinion (as I interpret it) that a transportation infrastructure built around a ring road and one-way, five-lane city streets with synchronized lights is superior to one built around two-way streets, rapid transit, and walking and cycling. I strongly disagree with it, but I respect it.

But I do not accept your premise that fiscal responsibility or free market economics are in your corner. Hamilton spends far more money to keep up an overgrown network of streets than it would on the transportation infrastructure that most people on this board envision. And there's nothing free-market about the Linc and RHVP. At least the HSR recovers some of its expenses through user fees.

Arguments about spin-off development can be made for either type of transportation system. So far the Red Hill has attracted one employer, 300 jobs.

You've had it your way for fifty years. Do you think it has worked?

And, by the way, I live downtown and walk almost everywhere. I'm not asking for two-way conversion before I will get off my ass. I'm asking for it so that my ass won't get hit by a speeding transport truck.

John

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 10:19:57

@ John Neary

"And there's nothing free-market about the Linc and RHVP. At least the HSR recovers some of its expenses through user fees."

This is a tired argument John. Please, enough with this stupid talk. I expect something like this from Jason. Don't I pay gasoline taxes and vehicle registration taxes?

"So far the Red Hill has attracted one employer, 300 jobs."

Many of the businesses that have located in the Mountain industrial park have done so b/c of RHVP. The North Glanbrooke industrial park is currently being serviced as shovel ready. Once that is complete more businesses will locate in that park.

Canada Bread chose to locate there b/c of the land availablity and the proximity to an expressway. They did NOT choose to locate dt because there is transit. They don't care about transit because they need to get their products out on big trucks not in the back of buses!

Canada Bread (and many other businesses) did not locate on brownfields land because:
- They are in the food processing industry, it is unsanitary to be located in proximity to polluting industries such as Stelco.
- The costs of remediating land are very very expensive and would delay the completion of the plant by two years or more (as compared to being located on greenfield site). Thus Canada Bread would have lost two years of profits (known as an opportunity cost). This would harm employees, investors and would hamr Canada Bread's competitiveness.
- Many of the brownfield land parcels are small in size and do not meet the requirements of modern plants.

These are the facts. Locating in greenfields sites is the reality. Hamilton lost many business because of a lack of shovel-ready employment land. Want to see an successful emerging business park? Go for a drive through the Ancaster Business Park. It is teaming with new diverse businesses. It is located near the 403 and there is not an HSR bus in site.

But appearently you know more about business than the people who actually make decisions and have their own money at stake.

I support RHVP, more serviced industrial land and converting Main and King to two way (among some other major dt roads). However, the situation as it stands now should not deter people who really want to walk from doing so. And using taxpayer funded studies to push somebody's political agenda should be stopped.



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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 23, 2010 at 10:58:15

"Don't I pay gasoline taxes and vehicle registration taxes? "

This is a tired argument. Please. It has been well documented that these do not cover even the direct expenses of the private automobile system, let alone the expensive externalities (i.e. health care). Road maintenance, after all, is tacked onto our property taxes, which we pay whether we drive a private automobile or not. Should someone who does not (or can not) drive a car subsidize those that do? That person may not mind paying to maintain a road so that deliveries can be made, but private drivers are getting a free ride off of that person's back.

So let's not pretend the $75/year plate charge covers the construction of, say, the Linc.

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/3023 http://www.best.bc.ca/pdf/automobiles_fs... http://www.jstor.org/stable/1048729

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By Really? (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 12:30:02

Great read, thanks! And ya, I totally agree with Capitalist (as I'm sure we all do).

I was dissapointed in some things, specifically when trying to come up with other Monthly BIA Events (such as the James North Art Crawl).

They're conclusion: Have Art Crawls within other BIAs as well!

WRONG!

The point of that 'activity' was to pinpoint specific BIAs' strengths/uniqueness by throwing an event relevant to that particular BIA. You can't take one successful event and apply it to every other BIA across the City!!! Then the James North Art Crawl loses it's appeal/attraction, while the other 'Art Crawls' may be watered down and/or really small.

Why not get Westdale to start a 'Bean Fest' for their Bistros & Cafes (what happened to Westitalia?) Gore Park have Corporate Olympics once a month during warmer weather? Get the white collars involved since their downtown presence is weak (besides the smoke breaks). Winning organization gets a free lunch/dinner at any Downtown BIA restaurants! King West Sidewalk Sales for the couple clothing boutiques. Locke South Bake-Off (yuppies love to bake!)

And why doesn't Corktown have a BIA? Can't you just imagine closing Augusta St for St Patty's Day!?!? AMAZING! All the pubs are packed to the brim anyway, might as well move the party outside! Who's going to complain? The empty lots!? haha

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By Really? (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 12:54:42

Another One: Main St Esplanade Drag Racing Fest!

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 14:26:49

Wow, five people downvoted Capitalist's last post? Personally, I thought it was rational and civil. I don't usually vote on posts, but I upvoted that one.


I brought up the RHVP not out of pure spite but to make the specific point that a car-centric transportation infrastructure is no more inherently free-market or fiscally responsible than an infrastructure built around alternate modes of transportation. Sean kindly provided some evidence to support my argument.

I am just as sick as you are of studies that tell us what we already know. As I said before, I would have much rather seen that money spent on real-world projects to improve walkability. I will note in passing that the Public Works department of our city is full of people who are paid by our tax dollars to advocate the opposite perspective.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 14:53:45

@John Neary we're tired of...

1) the insults: "Please, enough with this stupid talk."

2) the sarcasm: "But appearently you know more about business than the people who actually make decisions and have their own money at stake."

3) having this same debate with Capitalist again and again and he keeps trotting out the same discredited arguements.

It's true this was one of Capitalists more civil posts compared to ranting about "bums and lowlifes" and "left wing idiots" like usual but memories are pretty long.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 15:44:31

I have to admit, I do like the idea of wider sidewalks. Who knew that even lefties have good ideas some times.:)

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:06:45

Thank you John Neary

@ z jones

Just what are my "discredited arguments"?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:28:31

here's one: "Don't I pay gasoline taxes and vehicle registration taxes?"

Not that the statement is false. But the implication that those fees cover the entire private automobile transportation system is wrong.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:41:53

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By Ironweed (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 17:11:23

@ Really: "And why doesn't Corktown have a BIA? Can't you just imagine closing Augusta St for St Patty's Day!?!? AMAZING!"

File under "stagger-ability study"...

The Corktown neighbourhood is probably just as big as the Downtown BIA (and it would actually overlap from Main to Hunter, James to Wellington), but because the businesses are scattered and it's highly residential, it probably hasn't been a natural fit as a BIA. Although Augusta from John to James has apparently been annexed by the James South District {jamessouthdistrict.com}

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 18:50:55

Regardless of the merits of building on brownfields vs. greenfields, I think we should certainly require that all greenfield development must be adaptable and sustainable enough that it does not eventually become next generation's brownfields.

But that requirement might itself remove the economic incentive for greenfield development.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2010 at 09:12:03

"I think we should certainly require that all greenfield development must be adaptable and sustainable enough that it does not eventually become next generation's brownfields."

Are you able to predict the future John Neary? How do you know what the standards will be for the next generation regarding brownfields? You are asking business to make accomodations for the unknowable.

The only outcome from this type of policy would be businesses investing in other jurisdications. Something Hamilton is too well acquainted with.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2010 at 11:50:55

I watched a man with a crippled leg hopping furiously to get to the other side of Queen St yesterday to beat the speeding cars well over 100m away. It was very sad. But I suppose this is his own fault for not choosing to drive?

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