Revitalization

Gore Park(ing Lot)

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published September 15, 2006

WANTED: A Downtown BIA Executive Director who has vision and knows what it takes to make downtown livable, prosperous, enjoyable and pedestrian friendly.

Send resume to bia@raisethehammer.org.

I heard the news that the city is finally going to realize the potential of the European style piazza of Gore Park, and eliminate all vehicle traffic from the south leg of King.

That's one step forward. Let's try to make it to two before we step backward again. Kathy Drewitt, the Executive Director of the downtown BIA, wants busses off King Street between James and John...

...so that we can make it a parking lot. Let's call that two steps back.

Immediately, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell began ringing through my head: "They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot".

A parking lot will at best provide spaces for about 40 cars, give or take. Furthermore, any patrons these 40 cars bring will certainly scare away more than that in pedestrian traffic because of the unfriendliness of the vehicle traffic, like all the potential pedestrians and patrons from the proposed Connaught Plaza's 140-unit condo, one block away.

Who wants to have a cup of coffee in a parking lot?

By making the south leg of Gore pedestrian only, it could bring hundreds of patrons daily walking in the plaza, enjoying the stroll and pleasure of not having to play Frogger with the traffic.

I'll bet Drewitt can see it now, grandiose visions of patrons leaving the Limeridge Mall and the Meadowlands in droves to come to the 40 parking spots at Gore Park.

When will we understand that cars are the problem, not the solution? Not catering to cars has never adversely affected Toronto's downtown. In fact, Toronto's downtown and too-numerous-to-mention neighbourhoods are some of the most desired pieces of real estate in North America, without a parking lot in sight.

Thousands of people stroll along Yonge, College, St. Clair, Dundas Square, Bloor, King, Queen, all because the city decided to put people first. People and people places make the city, not cars.

Gore Park was clearly meant to be a piazza, a square, a plaza, in the style of every European city small and large. It was meant to be a gathering place to socialize, conduct commerce, meet friends, spend family time, and a public forum.

Hamilton needs to make sure that Gore Park takes steps in the right direction, because another backwards move at Gore may erase many good steps we have already taken downtown.

Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2006 at 09:54:09

Even John Dolbec, the CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, is slowly starting to come around to the idea that the economy benefits when the streets support pedestrian life.

Here's an excerpt from the September 8, 2006 Hamilton Spectator article "Gunplay on James":


But Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO John Dolbec says James North has begun a quiet but significant renaissance, driven in part by traffic flow, but also by a younger crowd less concerned about the reputation of the James Street strip.

Merchants report much more activity, particularly in the hospitality sector, he said. Retail businesses have also seen small increases.

"It seems to have started about the same time the city made James North into a two-way street" in 2002.

"I ... was always skeptical about that, but a lot of merchants in the area swear by it."

Now James North, with its strong Portuguese and Italian presence, is undergoing a rebirth.

"It seems to be acquiring a kind of status as a go-to strip, attracting people from different parts of the city and even from out of town," Dolbec said.

"It's attracted a lot of artists ... and any place that attracts those bohemian types, there seems to be a certain hospitality traffic that follows that and boosts the local retail traffic at the same time."


http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/NASApp/...

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2006 at 14:16:43

Way to go RTH... Kathy Drewitt should have been let go of a long time ago.

Are they fucking serious? A parking lot?

I think it's about time the whole BIA was revamped- it hardly seems worth the money the city grants them each year- all the businesses in the BIA pay a levy on their tax bill, and that money ends up being wasted with banners, caged reindeer and Kathy's salary. It would be nice for once to see someone in that position who is actually passionate about the downtown, someone who knows the realities of downtown, preferably not someone who lives on the mountain or stoney creek.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2006 at 15:23:51

Also, I've been told by 2 sources now that the downtown BIA is making comments that "we will never host another live music/entertainment event downtown."
this of course, follows their fiasco in a gravel parking lot this past summer (more to come in the next issue of RTH). I guess turning Gore into a parking lot is one way to remove all possibility of any festivals, events, arts, music, entertainment or FUN from ever happening in the park. What a joke.

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2006 at 16:32:58

Yeah, the BIA has never been able to put on a good show- we should just talk to a couple of the city's music promoters, and put together a show in the park worth attending- not some unknown smooth jazz band...

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 18, 2006 at 11:28:27

i'm convinced that's exactly what would happen with the Gore made car-free. That's why I think they need to move busses and cars from there. Then we bascially eliminate the need for that BIA to do these things...musicians, artists, promoters, entrepreuners would all flock to the new pedestrian-zone with great events, markets and festivals throughout the year. The BIA could stick to sprucing up their storefronts, planting flowers and attracting business downtown. Obviously entertainment isn't their strong point. So let those who know how to 'entertain' have free reign over the Gore...not 35 cars or a once-a year hack of a festival.

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By trey (registered) | Posted April 30, 2008 at 13:38:11

for the record Kathy Drewitt lives in Caledonia.

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By Ezaki Glico (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 17:54:44

Just noticed the latest addition to Gore Park – two automated parking ticket machines. So although the buses are out, the south leg of King is effectively now a parking lot. Maybe this is how the city plans to bankroll the piazza concept?

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