While some long-time business owners are fingering the bus lane for lost sales, new businesses are opening along the route and developers are investing in renovations.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 16, 2015
One of the issues swirling around the contentious transit-only lane running on King Street between Mary and Dundurn has been the impact on local retail businesses.
A few business owners have moved off King Street, complaining that customers can no longer park on the north curbside of King and don't want to park on the south side and cross the street.
Here on RTH, we have made the argument that when customers aren't willing to cross the street, that indicates something wrong with the street itself rather than the bus lane.
City staff recommend restoring the north curbside parking west of Bay, a change that can be funded from money remaining in the Metrolinx capital fund that paid for the bus lane.
Nevertheless, it's clear that business owners along King are divided, with some supporting it but more in opposition.
Yet while some long-time business owners are fingering the bus lane for lost sales, new businesses are opening along the route. During this week's General Issues Committee meeting, Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr mentioned that the picture has been a mix of both bad and good news.
Between October 2013 and January 2015, the City issued licences for 30 new businesses along the bus lane route:
|Address||Issue Date||Type of Business|
|1 King Street East||2013-10-04||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|1 King Street East||2013-10-04||Food Shop|
|100 King Street West||2013-10-11||Eating Establishment|
|158 King Street West||2013-10-22||Eating Establishment|
|120 King Street West||2013-11-05||Eating Establishment|
|120 King Street West||2013-11-06||Eating Establishment|
|1 King Street East||2013-11-07||Places of Amusement|
|116 King Street West||2013-11-28||Eating Establishment|
|3 King Street East||2013-12-12||Eating Establishment|
|194 King Street West||2013-12-23||Eating Establishment|
|228 King Street West||2014-02-07||Eating Establishment|
|152 King Street West||2014-02-10||Eating Establishment|
|463 King Street West||2014-02-14||Personal Service Facility|
|393 King Street West||2014-02-19||Personal Service Facility|
|13 King Street East||2014-02-20||Eating Establishment|
|230 King Street West||2014-02-20||Personal Service Facility|
|160 King Street West||2014-03-19||Personal Service Facility|
|19 King Street East||2014-04-25||Eating Establishment|
|174 King Street West||2014-05-01||Eating Establishment|
|213 King Street West||2014-05-30||Public Garage|
|7 King Street East||2014-06-16||Eating Establishment|
|294 King Street West||2014-06-17||Personal Service Facility|
|246 King Street West||2014-06-26||Eating Establishment|
|7 King Street East||2014-07-16||Public Halls|
|467 King Street West||2014-08-15||Food Shop|
|17 King Street East||2014-10-21||Eating Establishment|
|17 King Street East||2014-10-21||Public Halls|
|19 King Street East||2014-11-26||Places of Amusement|
|13 King Street East||2014-12-18||Personal Service Facility|
|1 King Street East||2015-01-02||Eating Establishment|
That is not including new business licences inside Jackson Square, which would also presumably be negatively affected by traffic congestion on the bus lane. Another 14 new business licences were issued inside Jackson Square:
|Address||Issue Date||Type of Business|
|2 King Street West||2013-10-25||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|2 King Street West||2013-11-08||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|2 King Street West||2014-02-10||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|2 King Street West||2014-02-10||Food Shop|
|2 King Street West||2014-03-21||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|2 King Street West||2014-03-21||Food Shop|
|2 King Street West||2014-05-21||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|2 King Street West||2014-05-21||Food Shop|
|2 King Street West||2014-06-13||Eating Establishment|
|2 King Street West||2014-09-18||Food Shop|
|2 King Street West||2014-10-20||Cigarette/Tobacco Sales|
|2 King Street West||2014-10-20||Food Shop|
|2 King Street West||2014-11-21||Eating Establishment|
|2 King Street West||2015-01-07||Eating Establishment|
This is still only a partial list. As City staff note, "not all business require businesses licenses (e.g. retail stores)."
The City's Licencing group is also looking into whether it can determine the number of businesses that have closed during the same period.
According to the King West BIA, four businesses closed, and two of them moved into Jackson Square.
The Downtown BIA notes that the last businesses operating in 18-28 King Street East closed, but that was due to the property owner clearing out the buildings in anticipation of demolishing them, not because of the bus lane.
Similarly, the bingo hall operating at 45 King Street East closed, but that was not due to the bus lane either.
According to the International Village BIA, 8 businessed closed and four businesses opened. One potential "game changer" along King East is the recent purchase of the old Sandbar by a developer who plans to "basically gut and rebuild from the top down".
Another indicator of business confidence in the bus lane corridor is the number of property owners who opted to apply for facade improvement grants.
Between Wellington and Dundurn, a total of 37 properties were approved for $492,000 in grants toward a total of $1.3 million in facade renovations.
As much as there has been some high-profile grumbling about the bus lane, at least some of the businesses that closed were going to close anyway. Not every business is viable, and incremental business turnover is a normal part of a neighbourhood's economy.
It is clear from the number of new business openings, property purchases and investments in building renovations that while some people see the bus lane as a burden, others are not fazed by it and still others recognize that better transit improves the city and transit riders are also customers.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 22:25:11
baloney. Terry Whitehead spoke to the Hillbilly Heaven guy himself. The bus lane is a total disaster......
By will move (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 22:56:56
I moved to Hamilton a few months ago because of the potential. But I work in Toronto. If LRT and the changes it bring don't happen, I will leave Hamilton and move to Toronto. Thank you Council.
By MattM (registered) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 09:40:41 in reply to Comment 107875
If not having LRT would make you leave Hamilton, why did you come in the first place? It would be a devastating blow but many of the things that already make Hamilton an amazing place to live would still exist. I can't think of a reason to ever move back to Toronto myself because all of the reasons I left probably won't change in the next 20 years.
By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 07:32:26 in reply to Comment 107875
I have literally considered selling my house (I haven't even owned it for a year) and moving back to Toronto after the bus lane "debate" I saw on Wednesday. I wonder if downtown property owners have a leg to stand on to sue people like Terry Whitehead for damaging our property values with their stupidity.
Comment edited by Cultosaurus on 2015-01-16 07:33:29
By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 08:57:17 in reply to Comment 107885
By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 09:47:20 in reply to Comment 107890
I can't believe you're so naive as to believe this is just about the bus lane. Hello!
By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:47:59 in reply to Comment 107894
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2015 at 17:27:56 in reply to Comment 107900
Every urbanist issue we've been fighting over in the past year has been penny-ante stuff. The bus lane, and the Cannon bike-track altogether cost under a million dollars in capital costs. Yes, that's a lot of money, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the taxpayer's big line-items. $100 million on upgrades for highway 5. Hundreds of millions in road maintenance. $150 million on that stadium.
Bikes are cheap.
Now, when it comes time to argue over buying more buses and hiring more bus drivers? The LRT? That's where we'll get into some hard conversations about cash.
But when it comes to bus-lanes and bike lanes?
Just admit you don't want to slow down for Those People.
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 17:22:01 in reply to Comment 107900
bq. If this city continues to make their decisions based on 'special interest group' pressures and desperation we might as well all move because no one will be able to afford the taxes
That is literally what we are saying. If hamilton continues to make decisions based on the 'special interest group' of 'driver', I don't want to live there.
By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:49:51 in reply to Comment 107900
Hamilton has high taxes because it keeps building sprawl to placate the developer and car-culture special interest groups, so I guess I agree with you. We can't afford (and the suburbs are very far from paying their fair share of) the taxes this continued course of action will engender.
By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 07:30:05 in reply to Comment 107875
By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 23:33:08 in reply to Comment 107875
This is an intriguing line of thinking. And I understand what you're saying completely.
But there' a problem: Even if Hamilton got everything it needed for LRT, even if it got the cheque cut tomorrow and work began on the initial work next week, it will still be years before it's in place. Conservatively five years. Maybe longer. (This amount of time does not include delays caused by potential lawsuits filed by businesses along the route.)
Are you willing to wait that long?
And the 'changes' you refer to, assuming you're talking about economic development with all its ancillaries, they'd happen much after this five, eight, ten years.
Again: Are you willing to wait that long?
Comment edited by ItJustIs on 2015-01-15 23:34:22
By will move (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 09:33:57 in reply to Comment 107880
Yes, I'd be willing to wait. For me it's just about the movement towards realizing potential. The drive towards change and improvement. If I see it's not happening in my lifetime due to the dithering idiot council that seems bent on blowing a once in a generation opportunity, I feel it's better to move out. Might as well move to a place where my taxes come back to me in some form, like Waterloo even.
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 08:51:08 in reply to Comment 107880
It's not about waiting. Hamilton is attractive because of its potential. Building LRT would be symbolic of that potential beginning to come to fruition, but there are many many small changes that the city can start working on ---such as two-way conversions, cycling routes and greenways, this bus lane, and more like it, reducing urban sprawl, changing zoning bylaws to encourage density and mixed use, defending heritage --- which would actually result in the most tangible changes in Hamilton. Council has shown itself unable and unwilling to consider these changes, challenging them with stupid and insensitive, unsupportable positions. They have shown themselves unable to imagine the case for building a better city in even the smallest incremental stages, let alone the kind of large organizational re-orientation that is necessary to make better city-building the natural outcome of their work.
LRT is very much symbolic of the issue, because most experts think it's a no brained (including metrolinx) and the province has even offered to pay for it, but the leadership of this city has responded negatively to even the idea of it. They say that they don't support it because it's not a sure thing, even though they are the ones who have to make it happen; however, but they have responded similarly to many other ideas, small and large. When you look at the silliness of the debate over this TOL, or the cannon cycle track, its hard to have any faith at all in Hamilton council. Hamilton is a great city, but it needs to change. The status quo is not acceptable in the long term.
Comment edited by AnjoMan on 2015-01-16 09:02:51
By dangeroos (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:45:52
While it's easy to point the blame at City Hall, it's my belief that amalgamation has really staggered the progress of this city. You have a city with areas that have very different needs. I am generalizing here but, the majority of the mountain, or Stoney Creek don't care about that because that's not how their communities are set up. It's designed for cars. I think we have some forward thinkers on council but there is just to many different needs for different wards. We've watched it play out with the stadium and the velodrome. It's a real shame we can't find any middle ground on anything.
By Agrred (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:14:16 in reply to Comment 107898
I agree with this and believe it's why a roadshow on the pros of lower City urban intensification needs to be taken east, west and up the mountain to explain things. A revitalized core will benefit those others areas in ways (like increasing the tax base with minimal infrastructure costs) in ways that I don't think have entered the conversations, for the most part, there.
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