Comment 528

By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted May 28, 2006 at 10:46:30

Update

As of an informal meeting May 25th with concerned neighbours, Councilor McHattie, and representatives from Chedoke golf course and Hamilton police, the path will NOT be fenced off.

At the meeting, neighbours almost unanimously opposed putting up a fence which would restrict access to the backs of their own properties. All were sympathetic to the prevention of vandalism but argued that a fence would be either ineffective or move the problem elsewhere on the course.

Golf course officials predictably wanted to protect their own interests, and no words were spoken to the effect of being concerned about possible negative effects of a fence. Not surprisingly, they admitted that they do not wish anyone to be on the path, ever, for liability reasons (they called it "risk management"). Presently there is no private security, but I expect this situation to change. More effective than a fence, no?

"it's a golf course, not a path." Well, neighbours raised the point that this path has been there for 60+ years and may have legal right of way status in common law. The path formerly serviced a playground which was annexed by the golf course with no consultation with them.

Most embarrasing was the stand of the Hamilton police officer. No admission was given that the fence might not achieve its stated purpose. No recognition that this euphemistic "risk management" approach could actually lead to greater risk by moving peds and cyclists onto dangerous Aberdeen and Longwood streets. I expected such defensiveness from the Golf course, not the police.

Councilor McHattie presented the cases as if the issue was already decided, when it was not. Unflatteringly, he appeared surprisingly sympathetic to the single use concept for public space.

There are early, loose plans to implement an altered version of shifting gears "route 14" on the north periphery of the golf course to connect to the CP path. This is appropriate if trail volume increases as predicted. The audience seemed supportive of this idea.

For now, this is a small step forward for participatory democracy in Hamilton. My thanks to Councilor McHattie and the other officials, who despite their scoped approach, respected the arguments of average citizens.

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