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.
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