Transportation

Petition to Complete the West Hamilton Multi-Use Trail

By Duncan O'Dell
Published July 30, 2010

I am writing to raise some publicity for an online petition I have started to support a City of Hamilton initiative to build a paved multi-use trail (e.g. pedestrian, bicycle, in-line skates etc) in west Hamilton. Unfortunately, it is currently mired in legal debate.

The proposed route of the multi-use trail (PDF link) begins at the intersection of Glenside & Chedoke Avenues (where it connects to the existing Hamilton bicycle network), runs along the northern edge of Chedoke golf course, along Studholme Rd, cross the 403 Highway using the existing Canadian Pacific Railway bridge, and ends in Ainslie Wood (where it joins the Brantford Rail-Trail) which is the residential area immediately south of McMaster University and Hospital.

The route for the trail was largely conceived during the 2005/2006 Kirkendall Neighbourhood Traffic Management Study, which was a consultation between residents and the City planners.

Speaking as someone who bicycles every day between my home in Kirkendall and my work at McMaster, this trail would be a big improvement in my safety and quality of life (I would no longer have to take Aberdeen, Longwood and Main.)

As well as those people whom it might tempt into commuting by bicycle, it would also be a fantastic addition to our recreational infrastructure, since it connects the trails on the two sides of the 403 Highway. There are currently only three places to cross the 403 Highway from west Hamilton to Westdale and Dundas: King St., Main St., and Longwood Ave. These are all very busy roads which act a big deterrent against would-be cyclists.

Note that McMaster University has 7,500 employees and 23,000 students, so the trail could have a large positive ecological impact in terms of encouraging bicycle commuters.

Cyclists have been eagerly awaiting this trail for many years and in March 2010 it finally received approval from the Niagara Escarpment Commission (who control any construction on the Chedoke golf course land). However, some residents along the northern edge of Chedoke golf course are appealing this decision.

To be fair, almost all of them are in favour of a trail in principle, but they don't want it to pass too close to their properties. They have legitimate concerns: if a trail user is hit by a golf ball and the city reacts by building a huge fence that will ruin their view, then they understandably don't want that.

I am sympathetic to their having influence on the precise routing of the trail, but on the other side of the coin these delays now put the whole trail at risk. At the request of the appellants, approval for the trail has already been delayed twice this year (the NEC appeal hearing is now scheduled for August 4 and 6) and now risks further delay or even cancellation.

The window to start new construction this year is essentially now over. The City money for the trail is already three years old, and such "old money" stands a high chance of being re-directed to other worthy causes.

Furthermore, finding funding for this trail and pushing it through all the bureaucratic hurdles has taken a lot of political courage from progressive councillors such as Brian McHattie (Ward 1). The council elections this fall may change the political landscape.

The purpose of the petition is to demonstrate that there is wide support in the community for this long-awaited trail. If enough people sign it, I hope it will encourage the parties on both sides to come to a quick compromise.

Duncan O'Dell lives on Flatt Avenue in the Kirkendall neighbourhood with his wife and their 2.5 year old son. He has lived in many other countries including England, Israel, the Netherlands, Qatar and Scotland. He moved to Hamilton from Toronto in 2007. He works at McMaster University where he teaches and does research in physics.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2010 at 21:44:25

Yeah, I saw the same NIMBY issues with trails when I looked into the unfortunate fate of the path that was to cross Churchill Park connecting Cline to Glen Rd.

I would never use the trail you're talking about, but I'll support it on principle - a good grid of bike accessibility is good for all of us.

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted July 30, 2010 at 21:48:24

You have my support. I ride my bike from Durand to the Main West/Leland area to get to work. I know this trail would be well used, and appreciated.

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted July 30, 2010 at 21:58:22

When I exit the Chedoke Radial Trail I would use the new trail instead of Aberdeen, Longwood and Main West which are not cycle friendly,

By the way, the top of the Escarpment Rail Trail south of Limeridge Road bisects the backyards of a residential area for a few hundred metres with no complaints!

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By Jeff_Tessier (registered) | Posted July 30, 2010 at 23:33:15

Thanks for the notice about the petition, Duncan.

A change here is badly needed and everyone who cycles through there knows it. It's more dangerous and difficult to get from Kirkendall to West Hamilton than it is to get from West Hamilton to Hwy 52, which seems a bit odd. And only a small change would have a huge impact - providing a safe means of accessing the rail trail from the Locke/Aberdeen area and then paving a path over the railway bridge.

As I recall a lot of the pushback - specifically directed against Councilor McHattie - concerned the paving part of this project. People didn't want anything paved. What's the status of that in the proposal/negotiations?

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2010 at 07:55:21

Duncan - I took the link to sign your petition and was shocked to find I'd have to PAY to sign it! You need to find a different way to garner support.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2010 at 09:15:05

you don't have to pay... if you just close the browser at the second step, your signature still counts as far as I can tell

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2010 at 09:37:57

Yeah, so I discovered later. The iPetitions system, however, has been deliberately engineered to be deceiving. One additional radio button for "zero dollars" would eliminate the ambiguity. I wonder how many people have mistakenly made a donation due to the social pressure of supporting a friends cause?

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By Duncan O'Dell (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2010 at 12:11:30

Ted,

I am shocked to hear that ipetition are asking people to pay - I wasn't aware of that when I put up the petition. From some of the other posts it sounds as though you can get around this.

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By RD (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2010 at 14:04:47

I was wondering what was going on with this multi-use path. I was looking forward to using it as it would be much safer route for all.

Does this type of thing only happen in Hamilton. First the stadium fiasco now this.

It is a pedestrian/cycling path PEOPLE not a nuclear plant.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2010 at 16:18:24

anyone want to join a door to door campaign of these houses?

http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&sourc...

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2010 at 08:11:16

The route in question is a far better cycling route. Longwood and Main are all frighteningly busy, and it isn't easy to get to or from their bike lanes (and Main's is currently under construction). It connects a residential neighbourhood directly to another, it's actually a much shorter route (if you look at the city from above), and from there, you can get anywhere downtown without riding more than a block on a major street. Plus with the radial trail from the top of the golf course, you can get to scenic drive or Ancaster with very little climbing effort. I take the bridge often, but it's hell on my tires.

As for the homes, I can only have so much sympathy for people who bought houses there. They're quite new, and everybody knew full well it was a park, golf course, and a bike route. It's like people who choose to live next to Hess Village then get upset about the noise (such as a certain high-end condo tower which always hassles the Doors Pub). Or people who move to the suburbs on the very edge of town and then complain about farmers (who've been there for decades) driving their tractors on the road. Why would you choose to live somewhere without putting thought into it?

And how on Earth is a bike trail going to do anything to make a train yard any worse? I live near Bayfront, so I know the situation well, and believe me, you don't even notice the bikes.

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By Karantov (registered) | Posted August 02, 2010 at 10:09:24

Lets get those bikes off the road and onto there own trails. Some of our access roads are dangerous and narrow enough already without adding bikes to the congestion.

I would even submit closing access to the Garth/Sanitorium mountain access to cars, and leaving it bike/pedestrian only, while they build the trail.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2010 at 20:29:28

Karantov, I think closing off the Garth/Sanatorium mountain access for cyclists would get every motorist on the west mountain screaming for the heads of every cyclist in Hamilton... but that's just a guess.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 08, 2010 at 14:18:05

What happened at the appeal?

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By Duncan O'Dell (anonymous) | Posted August 10, 2010 at 18:07:15

UPDATE: the appeal against the trail was held on August 4th and 6th in Stoney Creek Municipal centre. However, due to the volume of evidence, the appeal overran it's two alloted days. Two extra days have been chosen: September 13th and 17th. This means you can still make your voice heard on this issue. Please sign the petition and send it around your friends.

Given that the decision on the appeal by the hearing officer will most likely not be made before October, it is unlikely the trail will be built this year even if it given the green light. The long wait for this trail therefore continues. Unfortunately, this state of affairs plays into the hands of those against the trail since it increases the chance the city will cancel it. The money for the trail is "old money" (it was approved in 2007) and the City of Hamilton can't afford to have earmarked money sitting around unspent forever. Your support for the trail on any forum (e.g. by lobbying councillors such as Brian McHattie of Ward 1) can therefore still make a big difference.

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By padthai (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2010 at 15:07:36

Any update on the latest appeals??

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By dodell (registered) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 00:41:00

Update on the multi-use trail: there was a continuation of the previous hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal (administered by "Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario") to September 13th and 17th, although I was only able to attend on 13th. The appellants (against the proposed routing of the trail across Chedoke golf course) presented arguments that the city had under estimated the number of trees that would be cut down or damaged in the copse of trees on the edge of the golf course that separate their properties from the fairways. I also gave my arguments in support of the trail, including the results of the online petition in favour of the trail which had 585 signatures at that time. The hearing office told me that this was "not a popularity contest" and so would give the petition a low weight in his deliberations, although he did allow me to enter the petition into my official evidence. However, I still think the petition is playing an important role in this debate by illustrating the strength of feeling in the wider community. More signatures would not damage my case!

As a result of the evidence he had heard, the hearing officer has requested further tree damage reports from the city (as well as reports on water drainage issues) and another two hearing dates have been set for February 2011 to hear these reports. The trail is in limbo until then although all this might be moot due to the proposed Tiger Cat stadium in the Canadian Pacific Railway yards at Aberdeen Avenue. The proposed trail passes through this land (the City bought a strip of land from CPR for the trail) but the stadium might be on top of it. So I guess nothing will happen until the stadium plans become clearer.

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By Cut taxes (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 02:58:51

Cut Hamilton's tax rates to Burlington levels.

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