By Adrian Duyzer
Published October 05, 2007
Mayor Fred Eisenberger's proposal to pedestrianize Gore Park is causing a lot of buzz among Hamilton residents, especially in the downtown core.
The idea is bold, innovative, and exciting. It's an idea that has been proven to be effective over and over again in cities in other nations, especially in Europe. And it's something that would never have been proposed under former Mayor DiIanni.
All that means that Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel was bound not to like it. And whaddyaknow, here's Dreschel today with Mayor Fred puts the cart before the horse:
[T]he obvious truth about Fred Eisenberger's idea of closing King Street East to traffic between James and Catharine is he's sticking the cart before the horse.
All power and glory to the businesses and retailers that are gamely making a go of it in the faded centre of the city.
But if the three blocks from James to Catharine were turned into a pedestrian walkway where all vehicle traffic except buses were verboten, you might as well turn that stretch of King East into a giant bowling alley.
That's how empty it would be.
I've disagreed with Dreschel many times before, but rarely am I as mystified by his position as I am by this.
Does he actually even go downtown? Because it's not empty right now.
Every time I'm on King Street, especially during the day, it's buzzing with business people, students, seniors, the occasional busker, a handful of panhandlers (hey, every city's got them - been to Toronto lately?), and all manner and sort of others.
So let's follow Dreschel's logic. He says that without the cars on King Street, King would be empty. Except that none of the people I see walking around downtown are driving down King - obviously.
There's hardly any parking on King, either, so it's not like all those King Street pedestrians are there because they pulled up to the curb and hopped out.
So what Dreschel's really saying that if you take the cars off King Street, the pedestrians won't come any more. I don't get it. I walk downtown, and my least favourite thing about it is all the cars.
Or perhaps what he means is that if you take the cars off King, then the total number of people on King will decrease.
Well, that's true. But frankly, I don't count a person in a car going 60 km/h as being "on King", and I don't think the businesses on King count them either. It's hard to sell something to somebody when they're moving too fast to get their change.
Dreschel has an ally on City Council, though - Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson, lately famous for his proposal to put a Tim Horton's location at the base of the renovated City Hall. Both are concerned with King's status as a "crucial arterial road".
I think it's high time we stopped basing every downtown decision on what will happen to the traffic. Let's hope the rest of Council agrees.