Public Works Won't Remove Through Trucks from Downtown

By Jason Leach
Published June 07, 2010

Hamilton: Closed for business for 54 years with no end in sight.

Just as Hamilton's small business owners and business districts were ignored back in the 1950s when they were protesting the damaging effects of one-way streets and heavy trucks being allowed to roar through the core, today in 2010 it seems nothing has changed.

Hamilton's downtown BIA's and community groups continue to ask the city to fix the biggest problem stopping business from flourishing downtown, and as they've been saying since the one-way conversion in 1956, council is responding with 'no thanks'.

CATCH reports:

The executive director of the business improvement association, Kathy Drewitt, led off the downtown speakers on behalf of 430 downtown businesses. She reported two to three trucks per minute on Main Street and pointed to "the city's goals for building the Red Hill Creek Expressway and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway" to argue that these trucks should be diverted to that highway system.

"The BIA is here again today to recommend that Main Street be taken off the truck route from Wellington to Dundurn, and that the city take whatever means available to facilitate the encouragement of trucks to use the Lincoln Alexander Parkway and the Red Hill Expressway from the 403 to points in the north end," declared Drewitt.

"We continue to believe that the truck traffic in downtown is not consistent with the city's attempt to create and attract residential and office use and to make it a pedestrian-friendly people place."

But the opening sentence of the CATCH article tells us all we really need to know about our councillors' priorities:

Pleas from business and neighbourhood representatives failed to convince last week's public works committee meeting to remove truck routes from downtown streets.

In other words, we don't care about the plight of downtown businesses or the quality of life for downtown residents. Great public service, eh?

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 long haul (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 04:36:06

i don't really understand the resistance by council to this obviously easy remedy for the core. the spec daily poll the other day showed that even spec readers support limiting truck traffic on many routes.

who are councillors trying to appease? do trucking companies really donate that much money to campaigns? even i can't believe that council deliberately keeps downtown crappy to raise housing prices in the suburbs to prop up developers' profit margins.

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By frank (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 08:11:39

The fact of the matter is it's not necessarily that they're trying to appease anything. It's the same problem with this as anything else...status quo. Our city council is famously lazy and outdated!

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 08:16:01

even i can't believe that council deliberately keeps downtown crappy to raise housing prices in the suburbs to prop up developers' profit margins.

When you see such blatantly horrible decisions you can't help but wonder.

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By nm (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 09:23:54

Frank's right, our councillors outside of Bratina and McHattie only want to stay in office and keep the city so mediocre that we'll expect nothing better from them. Check out this other gem from CATCH:

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 13:53:10

Can someone please explain to me what the city's position is on this, since I can't seem to find it here or on the CATCH website? And what is the preferred option of the anti-truck advocates? Seems to me that any attempt to get trucks off some streets will only push them to other streets, and I can't see how mandating trucks use the Linc/RHV is enforceable.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2010 at 14:37:22

Allow me to try and clarify the matter.

The position of the public works staffers and consultants who prepared the truck route master plan study is that big transport trucks driving through the city should be allowed to go on downtown streets.

The public works committee's position is that they don't want to remove the downtown streets from the truck route - though they agreed to remove Dundurn Street North, Kenilworth Access, Upper Ottawa Street and Concession Street from the truck route on a trial basis.

The preferred option of the "anti-truck advocates" - who include, apparently, the Downtown Business Improvement Area - is that big transport trucks passing through the city should not be allowed on downtown streets.

A truck route master plan starting from the position that big transport trucks passing through the city don't belong on downtown streets would likely arrive in time at the obvious solution, which is that big transport trucks passing through the city ought to use that continuous ring highway network that was explicitly built to accommodate big transport trucks passing through the city, rather than downtown streets.

As for mandating the trucks: the city has what's called a "permissive" truck route policy, which means trucks are only allowed on streets that are signed as truck routes. Currently, nearly every major street in the city is so signed. The simple way to mandate the removal of big transport trucks from those streets is to remove the streets from the truck route and simultaneously remove the truck route signage from the streets.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-06-08 13:42:59

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 14:41:01

I prefer to view myself as pro-Hamilton, pro-business, pro-quality of life, pro-economy, pro-best place to raise a child, pro-changing Hamilton's image instead of 'anti-truck'.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 14:51:33

So is the goal to get a truck-free downtown through this ongoing Truck Route Master Plan process this time around (i.e. now)? Or is this more of a long-term, thing? I mean, it'd be great to not hear air-brakes on John St. anymore, but you're talking about a pretty revolutionary move here. Has this pro-Hamilton, pro-business, pro-quality of life coalition presented some incremental option during the Study that was ignored, or is that what resulted in the 18mo trial on those 4 roads?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 15:07:11

What the hell do we need an "incremental option" for? RHVP has been open for over 2 and 1/2 years now, there's NO reason not to get the trucks the hell out of our neighborhoods TODAY. Either this city cares about it's neighborhoods or it doesn't, there's no middle ground.

There's NOTHING "revolutionary" about goddam TRANSPORT TRUCKS not being allowed to short cut though city neighbourhoods. NOTHING.

Stop making excuses for them.

Yeah I'm pretty mad about this.

Comment edited by nobrainer on 2010-06-08 14:08:34

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 15:12:53

Wow, nobrainer, I certainly hope you bring that enthusiasm to your elected representatives--it's bound to convince them!

Now I remember why I stopped asking simple questions of you folks. Thanks Ryan, for the info you did offer. I'll try figuring out the rest myself.

Comment edited by Borrelli on 2010-06-08 14:14:02

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By Jason (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 15:31:30

I don't understand the comment about incremental change. Should we allow trucks on Main only to Catharine and then have them divert to the Linc for 2 years before having them use the Linc full time?? The infrastructure is built. Let's use it.

Nobrainer, you should be mad. We all should. This is complete insanity.

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By blech (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 15:41:07

@borrelli no one likes a quisling.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 17:58:39

Maybe there shuld a concerted effort to get a rally going and take it to city hall. I am sure the neighbourhood groups can network together to get citizens invovled.

Sometimes, a show of PEOPLE POWER is what will get in the MSM.

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By Look Out (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2010 at 16:41:44

Perhaps it's coincidental, but it seems to me that Hamilton has been in economic decline for roughly about the same amount of time it has had one-way streets throughout.

If downtown is such a good place to run trucks, why are all new, viable industrial parks located along perimeter highways?

The through-truck economic argument ignores the advice of folks like Richard Florida, to make communities liveable in order to attract the entrepreneurial intelligencia who will create local businesses. The truck transpo plan is more a dream about attracting big employers from someplace else. Dunno, but I don't hear much talk by Chinese industrialists hoping to relocate into South Ont. Has GM announced a post-recession expansion plan I haven't heard about? Could be I'm out of the loop though.

And it's not as though I'm widely travelled, but I'm trying to think of a busy commercial street I've been on that had 18 wheelers rumbling by two a minute. Not Queen St. Toronto. Not St. Laurent or Ste. Catharine in Montreal. Not The Miracle Mile in Chicago. Nope, not coming up with any, but I'll keep an eye and ear out. Maybe city planners could start a write-in campaign: "Tell us about the attractive and busy commercial and residential streets that supported heavy big-truck traffic in cities you have visited (pictures appreciated.)" Would make a nice column on RTH. Don't wanna move on that too quickly though.

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