Light Rail

Eisenberger: Hamilton Needs Bold Vision for Modern Transportation

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 22, 2011

In an opinion piece published in Newscliptv.com, former Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger argues in support of light rail transit (LRT) as a "catalyst to help Hamilton reach its full potential as a city."

Calling Hamilton "an investment-ready, medium-sized city" that offers "an excellent quality of life", Eisenberger argues that LRT will help Hamilton to "move ahead of the pack of medium-sized cities, not only in Canada, but in North America and around the world".

Building an LRT system will show the world that Hamilton is serious about intensification, preserving our green spaces, and at the same time, ready for more growth.

He cautions, "LRT will not happen by itself." To achieve our potential, "we need a bold vision for modern transportation which includes LRT and expanded regional transit, and then we need to act on that vision."

Of course, every bold plan has its naysayers. To those who argue that Hamilton cannot afford LRT, Eisenberger counters, "lessons from the rail plan approved in Waterloo Region are clear examples of why LRT is something that Hamilton can't afford not to" build.

Eisenberger's call to action echoes yesterday's keynote speech by Paul Bedford, the retired chief planner for the City of Toronto, at a luncheon organized by the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative.

Bedford noted with dismay that not one member of Hamilton City Council was in attendance for the talk, in which he articulated a compelling case for a commitment to regional rapid transit to keep the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) functional and livable over the next 25-50 years.

Again and again, Bedford reiterated that Hamilton's leaders have choices to make in how to shape the city's fortunes.

The status quo is one choice - and an easy one at that - but it will not serve us as we attempt to accommodate more people and more economic activity in the region.

But a city like Hamilton to achieve its potential, says Bedford, its leaders must be bold and visionary. They must champion infrastructure like rapid transit that will transform the way we live, work and get around and serve as anchors for new investment.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:27:07

sigh

Why isn't that guy still mayor?

Oh yeah, right... he figured the ticats shouldn't go looking a gift horse in the mouth.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:39:08

boy, it would be nice to have someone like this as mayor someday....

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By RonMiller (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:39:22

Just build it. Hopefully our city hall won't spend 20 years debating it.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:49:18

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By Brenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 14:24:11 in reply to Comment 65024

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:21:18 in reply to Comment 65048

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:41:01

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:01:04 in reply to Comment 65024

Here's an idea: let's argue policy based on facts and evidence instead of steaming big helpings of abuse and hyperbole.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 13:55:54 in reply to Comment 65034

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 14:01:07 in reply to Comment 65043

I'm only going to feed the troll once, so here goes:

You publish an article quoting an ex-mayor who suffered catastrophic defeat...

Ad hominem.

You then back said quotes up by referencing another person who belongs to the same BS think-tank as...

More ad hominem. Anyway, Bedford was the chief planner for the City of Toronto from 2000 to 2008.

not simply toeing the line of a weird little cabal of local second-rate politicos...

And back to abusive hyperbole again.

If you want a "balanced discussion", it's waiting for you. Arguments that are fairly written, evidence-based and focus on the issues rather than a laundry list of 'types' you don't like are more than welcome here.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 14:11:21 in reply to Comment 65045

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:37:06 in reply to Comment 65024

ex Westdale SS gifted program participants

Westdale SS didn't have a gifted program when I went there. If you came out of Dalewood's gifted program you had to go up to Westmount if you still wanted to get augmented coursework.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 13:43:46 in reply to Comment 65032

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:02:24 in reply to Comment 65024

Wow, I'm upvoting this simply due to the sheer skill involved in creating a 6 line sentence filled with amazing adjectives. Well done!

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By RB (registered) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:00:37 in reply to Comment 65024

I don't think I'll stop laughing for the rest of the day; nice work.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 13:56:57 in reply to Comment 65026

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:04:08

The Spec is starting to beat the drum for more trucking (via ope-ed pieces from Foxcroft, Koroscil and Dolbec as well as an "infrastructure" series) and another highway (arguing the path but not the logic) and the city council is overwhelmingly suburban, tax-averse and phobic when it comes to bold, projects, let alone progressive ones. Transit champions have their work cut out for them.

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By Inhocmark (registered) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:23:16 in reply to Comment 65028

I don't think it's fair to attack 'suburban' counsellors when their mandate is to serve their wards the same as any downtown counsellor would. Fair or not, in order to bring the entire city on board with ambitious projects you have to be able to show how it would benefit the entire citizenry. When the current Public Transportation in my ward makes it impossible at any point to use the HSR to travel the 9KM from my house to Downtown Hamilton, blaming the counsellor that is suppose to protect my interests for anything is wrong.

I'm not adverse to building an LRT, but I'd like to see some understanding of situation that citizens like myself are in, especially when it comes to public transit and our limited access to it before we, or our representatives get called out.

And yes, I've heard the arguments that I 'chose' to live where I did and that is part of the problem. They're tired. At the end of the day even the most well intentioned of us are unable to act on those intentions becuase of the current state of transit in our area and we're being asked to pay more in taxes for a project that even if we wanted to use, we couldn't.

Give me a bus that will get me downtown 7 days a week and I'm totally on board with an LRT plan. Until then, try not to judge me too harshly for not being all gung ho for the project. It's a little tough to swallow being the bad guy when I pay taxes for transit but have to rely on Burlington Transit or GO to get me 9KM into the downtown core.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:52:52 in reply to Comment 65064

You're flinching in the absence of a punch.

I wasn't in any way attacking 'suburban' counsellors, just identifying the fact that they constitute a majority vote on any issue. LRT would immediately impact the lower city, Wards 1-5, so in theory you'd need to bring at least three other councillors around to advance the cause. That statement is not "blame" any more than it is "wrong." It's just the reality of Hamilton's ward system.

The picture is complicated by the fact that Hamiltonians, like most other North Americans, would like to have a premium grade of services without having to experience any tax discomforts. If the HSR tripled the service volume in mountain wards, it would need to pay for that somehow, and even with gas tax revenues allocated to the challenge (rather than road maintenance) you might still experience a minor tax levy. Which makes the proposition politically untenable. That's what I mean by "tax-averse."

As to "phobic when it comes to bold projects," council is still stinging from the Pan Am Stadium debate, and the Red Hill project was a civic Vietnam. LRT has been described as a once-a-century opportunity to advance city building. As any student of Hamilton history will attest, the precedents for that kind of thing do not bode particularly well.

So once again, for anyone who cares to listen: Transit champions have their work cut out for them



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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 14:43:24 in reply to Comment 65066

BTW, I said "LRT would immediately impact the lower city, Wards 1-5, so in theory you'd need to bring at least three other councillors around to advance the cause" because you might have fewer than 5 gimmes.

Example:

Councillor Sam Merulla says the provincial government won’t provide Hamilton with the funding it is expecting for rapid transit. “I’ve been informed that the money is not forthcoming from the province,” Merulla said Monday.... “We’re at the point where the entire community is engaged in a discussion that is more of a concept than a reality,” Merulla said. “I don’t want to go through a dog and pony show.”

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/482613--alderman-says-there-will-be-no-lrt-money-from-province


Councillor Chad Collins wonders if all this design work isn’t putting the cart before the horse, because the city doesn’t know what its ultimate financial contribution will be. There is nothing allocated in the capital budget, so Collins says the money will have to come from cutting back in other areas or from a tax increase. He says he doesn’t believe Hamilton taxpayers have an appetite for either option. “My concern is that this is starting to look a lot like the (Pan Am) stadium debate. We’re talking about buying property in some instances … and we don’t have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities the city will have.” Collins says LRT is an important public debate, but until costs and senior government funding are known, the ongoing design work may be for nothing.

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/549656--lrt-planning-meetings-to-begin-tuesday

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By Inhocmark (registered) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 23:35:33 in reply to Comment 65066

Okay that came off defensive. It was more agreeing with your point but saying that the 'burbs and the counsellors do tend to get the blame when projects like this are slowed up.

I think most people are reasonable, everybody hates taxes but understands the need for them, provided they see a tangible results for the money spent, not only in the lower city, but right outside their own door as well. The issue right now, at least for me in my ward is that each quarter I see a transit levy on my tax bill and it pisses me off. I can get 1 bus that will only take me to a Burlington GO station and can only get that bus during rush hour. You approach any sane individual and say 'we need to raise taxes for an LRT system' when the current system doesn't even begin to address their specific needs of course you're going to have backlash.

At least from my perspective, if you want to have more support for LRT, especially in outlying areas, the city and the transit authority have to show us that our public transit needs matter too, right now all it feels like is my taxes are going to pay for somebody else's route.

I don't even need the tripling of service. Give me 1 bus that does a complete loop from Waterdown to Downtown 7 days a week, or even make the #18 Waterdown a full route and give us some way to get downtown from a centralized point (ie. Aldershot GO) and me personally I'm a happy camper and would probably be a lot more agreeable to the idea of LRT.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 25, 2011 at 14:32:49 in reply to Comment 65077

"I don't even need the tripling of service. Give me 1 bus that does a complete loop from Waterdown to Downtown 7 days a week"

18 Waterdown currently involves two buses currently driving a 39-minute loop. Extending the route into downtown Hamilton without involving a transfer would add another 39 minutes to the loop and require twice the buses to maintain the existing level of service. If there's pent-up demand from transit users, the case can certainly be made (as McMaster has done with the sardine cans of 5C/10/52, reliably ripe with undergrad BO eight months a year). If most users get off at Aldershot, though, you're running near-empty buses into Hamilton constantly, which is obviously inefficient from financial and environmental standpoints. I'd guess that 7-day service to Aldershot would be more likely.

Burlington Transit is an interesting case – abysmal adoption rate (annual ridership around 1.9 million for the last 20 years) and correspondingly 40% of the routes down't run on Sundays... but Burlingtonians still back the service with little complaint, even though it's reasonable to assume that a large chunk of the ridership is non-residents.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 18:21:55 in reply to Comment 65066

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 17:29:57 in reply to Comment 65066

NB: My mountain analogy is intended as an illustration – I gather that you live in the vicinity of Waterdown but it really makes no difference to my observation regarding the fundamental economics of expanding route frequency in under-serviced areas. Think of it as an abstract.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 17:23:21 in reply to Comment 65066

"just identifying the fact that they constitute a majority vote on any issue"

Not only that but they have a lot less residents in their wards, so each suburban vote has more weight than an equivalent urban vote.

For why suburban voters should support LRT, that's easy, when downtown Hamilton is full of new investment, new residents and new jobs driven by LRT, that means more money in the tax coffers, less cost for social services, and less chance your suburban house will get "ringed" by even more suburban growth that adds to your congestion.

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By Inhocmark (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 09:59:42 in reply to Comment 65068

It's kind of folly considering the current trends in urban planning to think anything done in central Hamilton is going to do anything to alleviate growth and congestion in the suburbs. That growth is going to happen regardless.

It is great that Hamilton will be full of new investment and new jobs, but to be self centered for a moment: Beyond the additional tax revenue, which is welcome, how does all that new investment and jobs help me if I'm not able to even access the city via the public transportation that my taxes pay for?

To pay for a large capital project like this there surely is going to be a tax hike. I'm fine with that. It'll hurt short term, but I'll adjust the budget and pay the extra. What will burn me though is I'll be paying for a service that even if I wanted to use it will be unable to.

Surely even with all the different priorities that the suburbs and the lower city have, there has to be some understanding of my point? Those of us who want to do our part, to take cars off the road and use Pubic Transit are literally unable to do so.

Fred: I took your meaning, I lumped in Waterdown with the rest of the burbs. It's all good.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:12:09 in reply to Comment 65028

There is simply not enough potential lane capacity in the GTHA to be able to meet our transportation growth needs via new roads and highways - especially when you take into account the well-established fact that highway supply creates its own demand by incentivizing yet more sprawl development.

Incidentally, at Paul Bedford's talk yesterday, he noted that you would need to add another four QEWs and another four DVPs to accommodate the number of commuters who flow through Union Station every day.

A vote for the Mid-Pen is a vote for perpetual gridlock. This region will be crippled and incapacitated in ten or twenty years if we don't invest now in a legitimate regional rapid transit network.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:34:16 in reply to Comment 65029

I'm not arguing for more highways. I'm just pointing out that the Spec has been tilted that way, pretty unambiguously. (What does it tell you that Bedford's cameo in today's paper is on the Business page, rather than brandished in the editorial pages?) It also goes without saying that, in case you hadn't noticed, political and business decisions (in Ontario but especially in Hamilton) are not always governed by long-range vision or even elementary logic. Were that the case, this entire discussion would be redundant. And that is why I observed that "transit champions have their work cut out for them." Sleeves-up time.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:59:08 in reply to Comment 65031

Don't worry, I didn't think you were arguing for more highways. I just wanted to respond to the Foxcroft/Dolbec/Koroscil thesis on highway development. Incidentally, Koroscil was at yesterday's talk, sitting at the head table.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:28:28

DR 25 45 55%

Hamilton's leaders have choices to make in how to shape the city's fortunes...its leaders must be bold and visionary. They must champion...

The Spec is starting to beat the drum for more...

Compelling cases indeed!

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 13:08:17

What's the difference between a few hundred million put toward LRT or high speed rail and a few hundred million spent on new highways? The money spent on highways is in many ways politically invisible.

The highway-building industry is thoroughly entrenched, and well connected to other dominant industries like auto-making and suburban sprawl. Transit just doesn't have this kind of political/economic clout, even if it does have the public will on side.

Is LRT mind-blowingly expensive? Yes - it's been compared in some cities to buying every family a Buick. A highway, though, can also cost tens of millions per km in an urban area (look at the Linc/Red Hill), and requires us to buy our own Buick.

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By HaroldSloan (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 14:47:20

Perhaps anonymous posts might be banned altogether. A person who identifies him/herself by name is more likely to engage in informed, balanced debate without resorting to name-calling and reputation-bashing. I for one cherish RTH and most of the people who post here.

Thanks to Ryan and RTH contributors for providing an alternative to mainstream media. We are an engaged, highly motivated and intelligent bunch, and it is community leadership on issues such as LRT and enhanced GO rail service that will get things done in Hamilton.
-Harold Sloan

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 19:51:21 in reply to Comment 65049

DR 86 260 33%

Perhaps anonymous posts might be banned altogether.

I disagree however, a more challenging mathematical question might be in order.

I for one cherish RTH and most of the people who post here...an alternative to mainstream media...and it is community leadership on issues...that will get things done in Hamilton.

I couldn't agree with you more Mr. Harold Sloan.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-06-22 20:06:24

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:15:05 in reply to Comment 65049

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By RB (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:28:44 in reply to Comment 65050

"ethnic looking thing made of bamboo" is making me laugh my ass off and agree whole-heatedly.

Blenda, you sure have some ferocious, sharp & spot-on hilarious descriptions of people/situations.

Again, nice work.

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By DiBratina (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:29:45

The fact that we are even talking about the possibility of LRT for Hamilton is, in part, thanks to our former Mayor. Do you honestly think Di Ianni or BoBra would have had the foresight or the vision to actually propose and then champion something like this for Hamilton? Di Ianni was clearly in the camp of putting all our eggs in the aerotropolis basket and making transit a bare-bones social service while Bob (platform smatform) Bratina prefers to make city vision up on the fly (or behind closed doors with the ticats).

The fact that since the last election a number of major opportunities for Hamilton are falling by the wayside is no accident.

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By RTH LRT (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:45:59 in reply to Comment 65052

Back up the train a bit more, even before Fred was talking about LRT the folks who write for RTH were promoting it when no one else in the city had even heard of it. It was RTH that started up Hamilton Light Rail and got the city talking about LRT in the first place.

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By DiBratina (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:04:21 in reply to Comment 65056

True - If it wasn't for RTH putting forward a whole host of ideas, many wouldn't even get on the radar. Eisenberger elevated many of the ideas into the political sphere and got them into a position to be considered for implementation.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:38:05 in reply to Comment 65052

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By brent (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:08:09 in reply to Comment 65053

The fact that he isn't a bearded, NDP voting, latte sipping urbanite demolishes your basket of lame, insulting cliches about the people who read this site.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 10:26:42 in reply to Comment 65063

Hey, I just finished a latte!

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 18:17:43 in reply to Comment 65063

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:39:49 in reply to Comment 65053

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By DiBratina (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:00:31 in reply to Comment 65054

If you feel that what you do is productive then good for you! Put YOUR ideas out there on how this city can be made better.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 15:45:32

I just noticed this partial list of city policies developers say are making it difficult to invest in downtown Hamilton:

Requirements and Regulations
o Height requirements
o Zoning regulations
o Density requirements
o Parking requirements - Participants noted that current parking requirements are not
promoting intensification.
o Heritage Requirements

Source: http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/C2BD81C2-42DA-4247-8CBD-6C4D5632C479/0/BLineDevelopmentIndustryFocusGroupReportFinal.pdf

Hopefully the fact that developers are also complaining about these regulations and requirements means that they will be changed. :-p

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 10:29:05 in reply to Comment 65055

good stuff there. I chatted with an architect recently who said the stupid height restrictions are a constant source of killing potential downtown high-rise projects before they even start planning. He said not to expect any real density or new tower development in Hamilton until we get rid of such a small-town, small-vision piece of legislation. I agree with him.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:04:46 in reply to Comment 65099

The report also said:

"When discussing the impact of the proposed LRT opinions were mixed. Many
participants were of the opinion that the LRT was a good tool for encouraging
development and intensification while others were concerned about the possible
effect on larger economic issues, especially increases in municipal taxes that were
identified as a factor in discouraging development. There was general consensus that
in order to realize investment in intensification it is essential that changes to policy
and incentive programs be implemented along the corridor before construction begins
on the LRT."

Your LRT is a pipe dream. To suggest that investment will flock dt because people can get get from eastgate to McMaster 5 mins sooner is just a crock. They said that when we got GO Train and where is the dt investments? You want to bring investment to the dt? Ease up on the zoning restrictions and stop turning the dt into a ghetto. Who wants to buy a condo beside a methodone clinic or a halfway house?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:10:55 in reply to Comment 65156

There's no mystery as to why investment is scarce in the lower city. We know full well what the issues are:

  • Restrictive Zoning By-Law
  • Cash-in-lieu-of-parklands fees
  • Parking requirements
  • Pedestrian-unfriendly streets
  • Lack of high-quality, fixed rail transit

Every city that fixes these issues enjoys huge boosts in investment and redevelopment and revitalized downtowns that attract residents and jobs.

We need only look to King-Spadina in Toronto for a nearby - and recent - example of this in action.

When King-Spadina was proposed in the early 1990s, all the usual squelchers came out and said it would never work. Developers wouldn't be interested, people wouldn't bother trying to get there (where will they park?), and the Spadina streetcar would be no better than a bus at attracting riders.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-06-24 14:11:41

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:03:54 in reply to Comment 65055

Great find. This is exactly what I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I've been in contact with Planning and Economic Development; we're arranging to meet up in the next week or so to talk about their ongoing review of the zoning by-law.

My preference is to apply something very like the King-Spadina Secondary Plan, which I've mentioned on RTH from time to time, to the lower city.

King-Spadina replaces the zoning by-law with a simple form and performance-based code:

  1. Build to the sidewalk.
  2. Building form is compatible with surroundings.
  3. Buildings are accessible from the street.
  4. No parking requirement, but any parking should be behind or under the building.
  5. Street improvements should enourage walking, cycling and transit.
  6. Owners/occupants are free to use their buildings for any use that is not harmful (i.e. loud noises, foul odours).

King-Spadina has been remarkably successful. The population has quadrupled since 1996, and the biggest cohort has been educated, well-paid young professionals looking for an urban lifestyle close to employment and social amenities.

The amount of new development is impressive. In just a 45 hectare (112 acre) area, King-Spadina attracted $55.6 million in new investment between 2000 and 2007, creating 700 new jobs and 230,000 square feet of property.

More on King-Spadina:

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 10:35:23 in reply to Comment 65061

Another recent example can be found on this facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/citysquarecondo

Scroll down to see my comment about how nice it would be to see a building like this built as a taller tower.
The developer 'liked' the comment and then replied suggesting I contact Jason Farr and Bratina (are citizens even allowed to anymore??) and share my thoughts with them. Not wanting to read too much into that response, I can't help but see it as a thinly veiled response to the city's nonsense height restrictions. And this is in Durand where 20-30 storey buildings are common. If we can't build highrises there, where can we??

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By RB (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:34:17 in reply to Comment 65101

I email (and get replies from) Jason Farr often. I cannot say for sure if he's walking the walk as far as what I'm asking him, but he is replying to be on a regular basis.

I cannot comment on BoBrat.

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 10:45:46 in reply to Comment 65101

"The Durand Neighbourhood Association came into existence in 1972 when a group of concerned citizens organized themselves to try to stem and bring under control a seemingly unplanned surge of demolition of housing accompanied by massive high-rise development. Their initiative in defence of the integrity of their neighbourhood led to the establishment of Hamilton's first official neighbourhood plan and other measures to bring order to rapid change in the Neighbourhood....

1988 The revised Durand Neighbourhood Plan is approved; a study is sought to establish a Heritage Conservation District in the vicinity of MacNab South; the Central Area Plan is updated; a proposed high-rise redevelopment of the Thistle Club site stirs controversy."

http://www.durandna.com/history.htm

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 12:06:55 in reply to Comment 65104

I am pleased that the DNA was formed and sought to halt the destruction of many grand mansions that were sacrificed for large commie blocks, but this becomes the problem in Hamilton - no room for good design, or basing project approval on merit. We now simply paint everything with the same brush - ugly commie blocks destroying beautiful mansions in 1970 = wonderfully designed, modern condo building being built on an empty, ugly, weedy lot in 2011.

The two aren't the same and shouldn't be treated as such.
What we need (instead of height restrictions) is an architectural review board that will ensure we are getting good development. Some 3 storey buildings are ugly and shouldn't be allowed anywhere. Other builders could wow us with a stunning 40 storey building in the appropriate location designed from the ground floor up, with the surroundings and integration into the urban fabric as a priority.
The projects should be reviewed based on urban design guidelines, not ad-hoc height restrictions that now blanket the entire city simply because city hall dropped the ball in the 1965.

I just returned from Miami, where the skyline is completely unrecognizable from 5 years ago....and this during a massive recession and in America's most dangerous hurricane zone.

Hamilton has the opportunity to seriously add infill into the core and do it in a way that will be breathtaking and vibrant. High density is not bad. Bad high density is bad.

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 14:33:20 in reply to Comment 65107

"High density is not bad. Bad high density is bad."

http://goo.gl/NeFlw
vs
http://www.castlebuilding.ca

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:29:33 in reply to Comment 65061

Glad I could help (it was, after all, my intention). Bringing up this report and the comments of developers should lend some support to your views.

In Hamilton we also have no shortage of planning documents that set out what the city should encourage and do, maybe these could be put to some kind of use and referenced in the creation of a performance based code.

i.e. "Development should be consistent with the city's Vision 2020 and Nodes and Corridors documents."

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 16:00:43

.... meanwhile, the crucial public debate is focused on roadwork.

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/editorial/article/551730--our-house-is-falling-down

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By Transitto (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 08:05:43

Other than yakking Fred did nothing to advance our LRT case...blah blah blah while other cities got funding...then he exaggerated during the election....at least Bratina just doesn't care, Fred cared but was not competent. And Dianni well, he didn't care about LRT either but at least what he cared about he got done.

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By FredFan (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 20:35:48 in reply to Comment 65084

Hey man, talking about something is the first step. Bravo! Lets vote in someone who doesn't care, because he stands for not caring. This notion that just getting something done because it is better then nothing is terible! Red Hill, Center Mall, Civic Square, New City Hall, need I continue? Hey Mike Harris must be a god to you, what he cared about got done. Ready for 4 years of Who-Duck? He'll get shit done. Mid-Pen. Mid-Pen man!

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 09:47:25 in reply to Comment 65084

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:40:26

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 07:51:33 in reply to Comment 65090

Do you have anything to add beyond the equivalent of standing at the back of the room yelling "Stupidhead!"?

If you have alternative suggestions or specific reasons as to why ideas won't work I'm sure we'd all love to hear them.

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By Blonda (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 09:56:40 in reply to Comment 65090

I'm gonna go ahead and recommend that you get a life, instead of hanging around all day on a website you think is pointless just so you can feel clever about insulting everyone.

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By RB (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:38:59 in reply to Comment 65091

Blenda is pretty negative, true, but come on: "...Hordes of "urban consultants" and barely employed hipsters are lurching their way to your house, arms extended, groaning for brains..." is pretty hilarious.

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By Mark-Alan Whittle (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 09:37:03

In Hamilton, LRT (Light Rapid Transit) means two completely different modes of transportation. Until this confusion is cleared up, as in stating publicly that Bus Rapid Transit is not an option, arguments will continue. The corridor in question would benefit from either mode regardless. Funding is at the heart of the problem and the scope has not been narrowed to the Light Rail Transit option. Personally, I would have no use for it, I use public transit once a year, to avoid the rediculous parking rates near my Doctors office. If you look at a map of Hamilton there are numerous rail spur-lines running in the proper direction. Can time be rented on these rail corridors, that's what Waterloo region is doing, saving millions in the process. Given Hamiltons addiction to busses, BRT could happen years sooner and the busses are very sleek and aerodynamic. Just my two cents worth.

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By George (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 19:25:17 in reply to Comment 65086

Mark-Alan Whittle wrote,

"In Hamilton, LRT (Light Rapid Transit) means two completely different modes of transportation. Until this confusion is cleared up, as in stating publicly that Bus Rapid Transit is not an option, arguments will continue. The corridor in question would benefit from either mode regardless.

Paul Bedford wrote

" The lesson is that fixed rail attracts investment/buses don’t/experience elsewhere has shown that successful transformation from suburban to urban streets is possible with the introduction of fixed rail transit

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2011 at 13:22:02 in reply to Comment 65086

The problem with utilizing rail lines is that the same forces at work driving rail transit are also hitting the transport industry hard. As rising gas prices and intensifying cities push trucks toward the margins, we're going to need that extra rail capacity.

CP freight trains already take priority over VIA for huge chunks of the national network.

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 10:10:07

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By PaulV (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 17:35:18 in reply to Comment 65095

Blenda, if I send an email to the mayor's office that says "if the b-line LRT doesn't go ahead, I'm leaving Hamilton" will he get it? Does he read mail from nobodys?

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By Anonymous Anonymous (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 16:48:20 in reply to Comment 65095

You've attacked a group of people you yourself debase to a group of nothings, not by compelling argument or by effectively debating the issues, but rather through a series of unprovoked character assassinations, jokes about disabled children, and insulting the nature of people's personal employment. You've spent two days trying your best to insult and mischaracterize a number of volunteer contributors to a small civic affairs website.

What's next, you're going to take on the corrupt leaders of your local neighbourhood association or PTA? Going to bust up a knitting circle at your community centre because you hear they have discussions about politics that tend towards a shared worldview?

Bravo, courageous young anonymous freedom fighter! Give those hipsters shit! Who gives them the right to stand around in comfortable clothing drinking fancy coffees and get involved in things? WHO, I ASK YOU? Those young jerks and their little bikes! GAHHHH I HATE THEM!!!! IHATETHEMIHATETHEMIHATETHEM!!!!!!!111

Teach them to break through their silly progressive urbanist misconceptions and re-make themselves in your image. You've so bravely thrust "the mirror" in their stupid hipster faces, and they hate what they see. Clearly, you win, "Blenda", oh wise commenter.

So perfect. So righteous. So PURE. Lead the way. Show us the light.

Whoever you are, you should go see a doctor to work out some of your issues.

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By Jane Jacobs (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 23:06:04 in reply to Comment 65118

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By RB (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:45:01 in reply to Comment 65134

"Everybody on earth other than hipsters hates hipsters."

...so true.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 17:40:34

DON'T FEED THE TROLL

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 22:02:27 in reply to Comment 65121

agreed

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By Blenda (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 17:45:19

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:40:16

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By TnT (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 08:37:01 in reply to Comment 65122

Blenda = Alan Taylor in drag.

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By Jane Jacobs (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 22:50:58 in reply to Comment 65122

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:39:59

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By poopered (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 15:03:39 in reply to Comment 65133

of course they're imposters---that's the point

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By UrbanWanderer (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 20:29:03

Man, just wait till you find out about all the projects being held up becuase of set back regulations. Yes, seriously, setback regulations. One is the Hamilton Hotel thing by Harry Stinson. Go ahead and email him Ryan and you will find out that is the reason for this crazy set back rule. Why the setback? They need it for the posibility of road widening. Yes, that is what I said. Nutso.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 08:31:22

Hamilton’s business leaders say a lack of political support is hobbling efforts to revive the city’s economy.

In a meeting with The Spectator’s editorial board Wednesday, members of the business lobby complained they’re not getting the support they need from city council on crucial issues such as the light rail transit proposal, all-day GO service and efforts to attract new employers.

“We just don’t appear to have any champions,” said Doug Duke, executive officer of the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association. “We have to act like a city that deserves these things and right now we don’t have the political will to go and get them.”

Hamilton Business Leaders brings together the heads of the Chamber of Commerce, home builders, realtors’ association and airport to push a jobs and prosperity agenda for the city. They argue city councillors should use that lens in looking at every decision they make.

“There appears to be a real disconnect between the business leadership and council right now,” said Ross Godsoe, CEO of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington. “We just don’t see these issues being championed by city leadership.

“It’s a tough job for us to even get a meeting with the mayor now,” he added.

The last time the business group met with Mayor Bob Bratina was in November, just after the municipal election. They’re not scheduled to get together again until July 21.

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/555635--business-group-says-politicians-dropping-the-ball-on-city-growth

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By stoett22 (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2012 at 03:15:45

I agree. Though it might be risky to plough in the funds for a new LRT system, only bold moves will allow the city to grow and prosper. Long term decisions like building a new LRT system will allow the city to expand, with new businesses to sprout out and the efficiency brought about by better transport can facilitate the growth.

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By Not Fred (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 20:58:22

The LRT will cost $1B, money that no level of government has to spend. It won't appreciably increase ridership along the route and there is precious little space for intensification required along the majority of the route. This has zero chance of happening

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