Is it really so strange that the city's largest employment hub, business and creative centre gets a lot of attention, especially since it has been under-performing for so many years due to self-inflicted wounds?
By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published May 16, 2014
Let me get this straight:
After decades of fighting for two-way conversions in ward 2, thirteen years after a handful of inexpensive two-way conversions were approved by council and staff but never implemented, and a year after groups of residents carefully surveyed candidate streets and submitted their results, mountain councillors have suddenly realized some of their own streets don't have sidewalks and are fuming mad that the two-way conversions that have been in suspended animation for well over a decade might get done ahead of their streets.
Talk about parochialism!
Last year, if I remember correctly, these same councillors were extremely concerned that pedestrian improvements and two-way conversions should be carefully examined from every angle before proceeding.
They insisted that residents from the mountain should have a say in what improvements are made in ward 2 - and mountain councillors should vote them down if the changes seem unpopular in their wards.
So, will these councillors now propose years of careful study of the benefits and drawbacks of sidewalks? After all, they could remove space from traffic, make parking more difficult and distract drivers.
And think of the cost! Can we afford it when there are holes in the roads?
We had better strike a citizen's advisory committee with representatives from throughout the city to decide whether these crazy sidewalk things are actually a good idea in Wards 7 and 8.
As far as I'm concerned, those mountain streets are just fine the way they are ... and shouldn't my opinion be just as important as those who live there? I haven't been hearing a clamour for sidewalks on the mountain.
Downtown residents like the fact they can drive around on the mountain without being slowed down and confused by sidewalks. Just think how difficult parking will become! After all, Wards 7 and 8 belong to everyone.
Of course I'm not being serious. It would be absurd for me to make such an argument - yet that is precisely the argument used to veto even modest, inexpensive changes to lower city streets year after year.
And, of course, Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel chimes in, reinforcing the view that downtown is getting too much attention.
[I]t's possible [Councillor Tom] Jackson may be the canary in the coal mine, an early warning system signalling that in the perpetual struggle between wants and needs, some people are fed up with the amount of time and attention downtown Hamilton is getting.
Is it really so strange that the largest employment hub, business and creative centre of a city of half a million gets a lot of attention, especially since it has been under-performing for so many years largely due to the self-inflicted wounds of its leaders?
If these councillors are exhausted with talking about downtown and giving it so much attention, why don't they just let the downtown ward councillors and residents get on with making changes, instead of debating them to death and vetoing them!
I agree that we could have done without the massive debate on the Cannnon bike lane. And they spent ages debating the bus lane, even though it is funded by the Province!
What really gets me is that these councillors simultaneously want to stop spending so much time, attention and money on downtown, but insist on always interfering with even modestly-priced projects that are strongly supported by downtown residents and councillors if they don't like them.
I would also like to see a proper cost/benefit analysis of how much money is spent downtown compared to the suburbs. Even a simple comparison of costs would be nice!
How much is spent on road maintenance and construction outside the downtown? Didn't we just spend almost $6 million on a single highway interchange in rural Hamilton?
Nor do I recall mammoth debates and tense votes about Ancaster's expensive complete streets re-design a few years ago.
It seems that these massive spends outside the downtown go by without comment, while a few hundred thousand downtown is examined and debated - and then vetoed - over and over.
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