Hamilton: Hard to Love and Even Harder to Leave

Community comes from the ability of each person to develop, change, and affect the areas in which we live. I have never felt like my actions and opinions have carried so much weight in one place until I moved to Hamilton.

By Ryan McInally
Published January 06, 2016

Last year, my wife and I started the process of looking for a home. This brought on a mixed bag of emotions. At first there was a sense excitement about the prospect of owning our own home. We talked about all the wonderful areas we wanted to live. We had recently moved into an apartment on the west end of Toronto and were really interested in buying property in that area.

Excitement faded quickly to disappointment as we realized if we were ever going to own our own home we would have to leave Toronto, and possibly the GTA. We had been priced out of the same neighbourhoods and cities we grew up in. Our only other option was to buy a condo, but this would admit to ourselves and each other that our dreams of owning an actual house just wasn't in the cards.

Sadness sank in, as did feelings of being defeated. Discussions took place about waiting for a potential house crash. Once I opened up these feelings to friends and family I realized that we weren't the only ones unsure of what to do.

Prices were breaking records, and that hasn't changed since we bought our house. There's a lot of uncertainty around when interest rates will go up and the effect that will have on the housing market.

Homes in Toronto are reportedly overvalued in the range from about 30-50%. Those numbers are heavily dependent on who is willing to offer up the information. Even with a 50 percent reduction, most first-time home buyers would still be priced out of most Toronto markets.

Looking at Hamilton

Several years back, I heard about the positive changes Hamilton was making. Every year I ended up downtown Hamilton for one reason or another, but didn't feel like it was the right time. I brought up the idea of buying a home in Hamilton to my wife and we spoke openly and honestly about how that would change our lives. There were and still are a lot of positives, but we also had some negatives on our list.

Once we did some research and realized that Hamilton was adding a GO train on the north end of the city in hopes of increasing the frequency of trains, we took the discussion more seriously. GO eventually plans to have all-day service from Niagara Falls to Union Station. If the lines are fully electrified, which will be the case at least to Aldershot GO in Burlington, we will see commute times improved in Hamilton. Electrifying the rails also opens the door for high-speed trains.

With the provincial government's commitment to fund a billion-dollar light rail transit (LRT) line connecting the lower city's east and west corridor, we saw a city receptive and willing to implement fast transit at the expense of the car owner.

Hamilton is also getting a second LRT spur line that will connect the West Harbor GO with the East and West LRT. Most fittingly, the line will run down James Street North, which is a model for change, growth and revitalization.

Fifteen years ago, James Street North was a shell of what it is today. Ron Corsini, a former councillor in Hamilton, famously said, "Shops and businesses are never going to return to James North. They're gone forever. Forget about it." Since then, community builders, artists, and entrepreneurs have brought life back this street.

Airport Potential

As I walk down James Street North, I feel like I'm back in Toronto in a small neighbourhood, with a mix of galleries, cafes, and independent businesses geared toward bringing the community together. The hope is that one day the LRT running up James Street North will be connected south to the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.

There is a belief that Hamilton will one day operate as a regional carrier for the Southern Ontario. Many see Hamilton's airport as an ideal place for a budget airline to operate out of. Currently, the airport's main function is the courier services for businesses like UPS and Purolator. Hamilton International has been in talks with three companies interested in operating a budget airline out of Hamilton.

Toronto Pearson Airport has long been criticized as having some of the world's highest landing fees and terminal charges. Many travelers have opted to go south of the border to Buffalo in order to get cheaper flights.

It's not just the cost savings that is driving the discussion of building up Hamilton's airport, it's also the capacity and demand of travelers. According the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, by 2040 airline passenger traffic in the Southern Ontario region is to exceed the combined capacity of all airports within the region.

Pearson has a limited ability to grow and expand as much of land surrounding the airport is already developed. Hamilton's airport, which is not currently running anywhere near peak capacity for travelers, is surrounded by a plethora of open land.

Desire to Improve

Every person I have met in Hamilton has been authentic about their desire to see Hamilton become a better place for people to live and work. There is a sense of community of people who are willing to support one another and take risks. Borrowing good ideas from other cities is a trend that continues to grow.

[The ?] Adventure is an escape room business that has been slotted to open in downtown Hamilton. The owners didn't have the funding so they were approved for a loan through a start-up program. The building they were interested in didn't have the proper zoning to be used as an Escape Room, so the City worked with them to find them a suitable property. The owners did not have the experience of opening or running a business, so the City partnered them with a mentor. At every level, those who live and work for city of Hamilton are willing to support entrepreneurs.

With the implementation of protected bike lanes and bicycle programs like Hamilton Bike Share, bicyclers can rent a bike at most major intersections and return the bike to any location in the city.

As we've recently seen in Brampton's rejection of $400 million of provincial funding to expand the planned LRT on Hurontario Street from Port Credit GO in Mississauga to Brampton GO through downtown Brampton, some cities and municipalities are not interested in making transit or pedestrians their primary focus.

A Sense of Community

My wife and I knew that if we were ever going to take on a reasonable mortgage we had to do it soon. We jumped in with both feet and ignored all the proverbial comments about Hamilton from colleagues and friends. Many saw the city for what it was, and not what it is or could be.

That is not to sugarcoat things. Hamilton has some rougher areas in the lower city that are depressed. My neighbourhood is one of them. But through all the good and bad, what I have here, and what I never had living in Mississauga, Brampton, or Oakville, is a sense of community.

Community comes from the ability of each person to develop, change, and affect the areas in which we live. I have never felt like my actions and opinions have carried so much weight in one place until I moved to Hamilton. People do not work in bubbles here, and this is a refreshing notion.

When someone asks if Hamilton has a particular business or organization and the answer is no, the person is then re-engaged by letting him or her know that is a great idea and they should consider doing it themselves.

Obviously, not everyone is an entrepreneur or interested in running their own business, but this discussion gets people talking about what does Hamilton have and what businesses could the city benefit from.

Hamilton is the fastest-changing city in the country. The Canadian and Mortgage Housing Corporation says that house prices are overvalued in Canada, but not Hamilton. There is a belief that Hamilton's house prices going up aren't fully related to the unaffordability of the Toronto market.

Don't Leave People Behind

The big issue of the next ten years will be: how does a city change so much without losing its community of people who are caring, compassionate, and hard working?

Gentrification is happening almost at a systematic level here. Rents are going up and landlords are pushing out long-term residents for young would-be urbanists who have recently relocated here.

Home prices are rising faster than anywhere else in the country. Homes that were once used as multiple occupant residences are being converted back into single-family residences.

The real challenge will be: how do we move forward without leaving people behind? Every city that has seen significant gentrification has had to answer this question.

It has almost been a year since we bought our home. We have made enough equity in this short period of time to buy into the GTA market, but now that we're here we don't want to leave.

Ryan McInally currently works full-time for the Peel District School supporting at risk and troubled youth. Ryan has a formal education in Journalism and Special Education. He's a technology enthusiast, writer, educator, perpetual student, traveller, politically interested, whiskey drinker, and lover of cinema. You can connect with him at @ryancancreate on Instagram or @ryanmcinally_ on Twitter. Originally from Mississauga, he now calls Hamilton his home.


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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 06, 2016 at 08:53:03

"With the implementation of protected bike lanes..."

What protected bike lanes? If the author is thinking of Cannon Street, those knock-down sticks are designed to do precisely that: knock down. In other words, zero protection.

There are protective bollards designed to protect human beings in bike lanes by withstanding the impact of motor vehicles. Too bad we don't use them in Hamilton to create REAL protected bike lanes.

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By WorldOnTop (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2016 at 08:59:17 in reply to Comment 115925

They offer some protection and act as a deterrent for drivers to use the lane as a place to stop/park their vehicles. It's a lot better than just having lines on the ground. I don't feel safe biking on lanes that don't have some sort of barrier between me and cars.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2016 at 13:15:56 in reply to Comment 115926

Also, in this time of year they pay off in spades as they mean the ploughed snowbanks fall between the bike lanes and traffic instead of falling on the right of the bike lane, to be smooshed by a car and smeared all over the bike lane then solidified into solid blocks of ice.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 06, 2016 at 11:06:09 in reply to Comment 115926

Better, yes. And subjective safety is vitally important. But there are engineering standards for protection from traffic violence. The knock-down sticks fail to meet those engineering standards.

Just because things are getting better, we really should avoid getting carried away and over-praising them. Or worse yet, when third-best is better that what we have, settling for third-best and stop trying for first.

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By AK (registered) | Posted January 06, 2016 at 13:43:34

"Hamilton is the fastest-changing city in the country. The Canadian and Mortgage Housing Corporation says that house prices are overvalued in Canada, but not Hamilton. There is a belief that Hamilton's house prices going up aren't fully related to the unaffordability of the Toronto market."

Hamilton's house prices are out of whack with local incomes. Unless you're braving the Lakeshore West commute which gets worse monthly, we're just as vulnerable to a housing bust as our neighbours.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2016 at 13:27:11 in reply to Comment 115931

I am observing that Hamilton's house prices are an abberation.

  • They are REALLY expensive compared to Hamilton average incomes
  • They are still REALLY cheap compared to Toronto houses, especially when you consider the family income of a GO train user.

The median family income of a GO train commuter is $107,712 (2011 National Household Survey) and also quoted in articles.

Since we have an unavoidable proximity to Toronto, solutions are needed to give balance to this, including affordable housing developments which I strongly support as well, even as an advocate for transit improvements for everyone at all levels of society.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-07 13:32:56

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 06, 2016 at 16:14:25 in reply to Comment 115931

Be skeptical with anyone who claims to know what's going on with housing in the GTHA.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2016 at 07:04:57

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2016 at 13:38:05 in reply to Comment 115936

Mingling residential roads and street hockey is unsafe, too. Mingling legal right turns and crosswalks is unsafe too.

You need to visit Europe sometime to see how a careful managed balance -- of modal mingling (e.g. multi-use trails, calm traffic, etc) and modal separation (e.g. dedicated bike lanes) works. Both works, but all factors must be carefully and wisely considered.

We don't have many parallels in Hamilton, but the closest example we have -- is James St. North. Over twenty years ago, it was a 1-way urban expressway with speeding cars. Today, James St N is a much more tamed corridor that mingles better and on a "relative safety scale" -- jaywalking much more closer to a residential road (where jaywalking is relatively safe; you do not arrest someone for crossing a residential street to reach their suburban house) than a freeway (where jaywalking is dangerous and law should obviously be enforced) as cars are moving much more slowly on James St N. Many people cross James St N nowadays to reach a store across the street. Perhaps it's not legal, but being hit by a car on James St N today would be slower moving than 20 years ago on this particular corridor. Nowadays, many people don't call crossing James St N as being "jaywalking" anymore, just like we don't use the word "jaywalking" to describe crossing a suburban residential road to a neighbour. Please note, the term "jaywalking" was invented to evict pedestrians from roads where they used to always belong for centuries. Legally, it may be different, but just ask any pleasure stroller James St N near Mulberry Cafe, "Is crossing James St N considered considered jaywalking?" and for more of them, you'll draw blank stares.

New homework for jim: Write a critique of both PROS and CONS of the multimodal systems found in other cities. Don't just write about CONS, don't just write about PROS, find a way to critique BOTH the PROS and CONS of multimodal mingling AND also BOTH the PROS and CONS of multimodal separation. Illustrate that in addition to self-transportation benefits, there are side social and economic benefits. Do so honestly.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-07 13:51:33

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 08, 2016 at 17:47:00 in reply to Comment 115940

time to climb down off of your perch Mark, I have been to Europe at least once a year for the past 5, visiting more than 10 times in my life. Remarkable how I can remain so lacking in culture with such exposure isn't it? Nice place for a vacation.
So the 'pro" might be that you and your pals get to play make believe and pretend you are somewhere you are not. The "con' is more death, more injury, even more of those road side shrines. A women was killed yesterday by a car backing out of a driveway. The Police estimated the car was travelling no more "than 10km/hr" This is what happens when vehicles "mingle" with pedestrians-people die, and it happens at any speed.
Kindly provide an example of an investment that has performed better than local real estate, and remind us all how roads are to blame for reducing the value of such assets. Has your home decreased in value? Willing to bet you live within a block of the high speed high density arterial's that bedevil you.
There is only one way to eradicate the threat, and it is not what you propose

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 08:38:14 in reply to Comment 115969

Ok, I can't tell if this post is a joke or not. You're telling me that a driver traveling less than 10km/hr is not at fault for KILLING a pedestrian? Was the driver paying any attention at all or did he black out or something? What in gods name could possibly surprise even the most inept motorist at that speed?

Also, I can see that you don't like cars and pedestrians 'mingling'. So I suggest that you lobby city hall to keep all cars off the sidewalks. How would you propose we get in to parking lots then? Overpasses? We can all park on the streets I guess. Tim's drive thru is off limits. OR we could keep all of the pedestrians off the sidewalks. Is that a better idea or is it fucking moronic?

Finally, just to clear things up, a home on a one way street with no sidewalk will be worth less than a home in a similar neighborhood on a two way street with wide sidewalks and a bike lane.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 12:10:33 in reply to Comment 115994

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 14:40:33 in reply to Comment 115996

So it wasn't a joke?!? Oh my god... Please can you explain to me then how a motorist can kill a pedestrian when traveling less than 10kph?

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 21:15:26 in reply to Comment 116003

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 13, 2016 at 07:40:34 in reply to Comment 116012

Get in your car and drive 10 kph. I tried yesterday and couldn't go that speed without riding the brakes. Any driver that kills someone at that speed should not be driving.

You are afraid of change. I really hope you are not one of those drivers that externalize that fear by deliberately threatening cyclists or walkers that are sharing the road with you.

Anyway, the future is now and you'd better get used to it. People want their public spaces back. Cars will have to slow down. Bikes and pedestrians will have to be given greater access to existing transportation routes.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2016 at 06:54:55 in reply to Comment 116016

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 14, 2016 at 07:51:38 in reply to Comment 116044

So it IS possible for you to make even less sense! Cool.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 14, 2016 at 09:11:22 in reply to Comment 116046

In fairness, as much as it matters, little kids and old people are knocked down or run over all the time by people backing out of their driveways at low speed.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 14, 2016 at 09:39:33 in reply to Comment 116047

That is not what I'm disputing. What I have a problem with is the idea that this can only be prevented by somehow separating cars from pedestrians. It's ridiculous. How is someone supposed to get out of their driveway if they can't cross the sidewalk?

The other point is that any driver who is inattentive enough to kill someone going at that speed (again, try it. Get in your car and drive 10kph.) is 100% culpable. And further to that, I smell BS on this 'report' that a driver going less than 10kph killed someone. You couldn't wrinkle someone's shirt at that speed. Unless of course you closed your eyes, knocked them over and slowly ran them over. Although, at that speed you wouldn't even be able to mount a curb so the car would likely stall before running over a person. Nonsensical.

Comment edited by ergopepsi on 2016-01-14 09:44:31

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:13:08 in reply to Comment 116048

Sorry. I agree with you. To completely separate cars and people is impossible.

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By Notlloyd1 (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 19:41:30 in reply to Comment 116003

It happened on York Street in November.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted January 13, 2016 at 08:02:16 in reply to Comment 116011

It wasn't determined that the car was traveling less than 10kph and the driver has been charged with careless driving.

There are many areas where cars and pedestrians will continue to cross paths no matter how the infrastructure changes. Basically boils down to the person who can do the most damage has to be the most careful.

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By Most careful (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2016 at 15:16:24 in reply to Comment 116017

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By Dammit Jim (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2016 at 10:38:15 in reply to Comment 115969

You got a situation where there's people and there's dangerous machines that can hurt and kill people. Most people would say you should control and restrict the dangerous machines doing the hurting, but not you, Jim. You want to control and restrict the people getting hurt.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 11, 2016 at 10:53:24 in reply to Comment 115986

I learned yesterday that there has not been one drone collision with an aircraft in the US to date and yet the current Congress has passed legislation licensing drones etc. etc. and all the while there are over 200 annual collisions between turtles and aircraft in the US yet no cry for licensing turtles.

Cars are dangerous for sure, and statistically by far mostly dangerous to those who are travel in them. But as Jim points out, they are also one of the greatest inventions ever and have overall added incredibly to our quality of life and arguable, statistically, to our life expectancy. The industry and science driven by private transportation is incalculable.

It strikes me as strange that as injury from automobiles has reduced dramatically since the early 70's, the argument about the danger automobiles impose on us has increased. Why is that?

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-01-11 10:54:17

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 11, 2016 at 17:29:16 in reply to Comment 115987

I think there are several reasons:

  1. Although deaths caused by automobiles have decreased, they are still the most common cause of "accidental" death. And, don't forget that injuries are very common: about 2500 Hamiltonians are injured each year by automobiles (and about 20 are killed). This is nothing like the drone example!

  2. Past reductions show that we don't need to fatalistically accept the deaths and injuries: we can drastically reduce them.

  3. The big injury and death reductions have been for motorists (and their passengers). Pedestrians and cyclist death and injury rates have not dropped as much, especially when you take into account that rates of walking have actually been dropping. In fact, pedestrians and cyclists often make up half the total fatalities! It is just not true that cars are mostly dangerous to those who travel in them! Around 90% of automobile collisions with pedestrians/cyclists result in injuries compared to around 35% for drivers.

  4. While a lot has been done in the past decades to address motorist safety (e.g. air bags, crumple zone, abs, collision detection, seat belts, better street designs and reducing drunk driving), little has been done to make the streets safer in Hamilton specifically for pedestrians and cyclists. And yet, we know from other cities how to make streets safer for these vulnerable road users.

As a recent study has shown, Hamilton has one of the worst relative pedestrian/cyclist injury rates in Ontario. We can certainly do better!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-01-11 17:45:59

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 12:05:54 in reply to Comment 115990

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By Youareright (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2016 at 22:56:39 in reply to Comment 115990

After suicide, unintentional poisoning including drugs and alcohol and then falls, car accidents are the next highest accidental cause of untimely death followed closely thereafter by medical negligence.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 12:24:45 in reply to Comment 115991

Not true: see this table of top causes of accidental death in the USA.

Motor vehicles are the highest by far over all and in every age category except under 1 year and 75 and over (where falls and unspecified are higher). Far below motor vehicles in second place is poisoning (suicide is, by definition, not "accidental").

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-01-12 12:25:05

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By youarealsoright (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2016 at 23:19:36 in reply to Comment 115991

if car drivers only killed themselves, then i think it would be fair to compare car accidents to suicides and unintentional self medication deaths via either legal or illegal drugs. But last time I checked, most people who die of alcohol poisoning don't take any bystanders down with them. Unless they are driving a car.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 11, 2016 at 09:31:53 in reply to Comment 115969

Still missing the point.

Jim, here's a history lesson for you, Hamilton, 1950s, before the 1-way conversion.

The road was calmer back then, and the sidewalk was wider. And much more people milling about, which could happen again after 10 years of a residential boom downtown.


Alas, this is when they converted to trolleybus after they stopped maintaining the streetcar tracks, and creeping towards automobile priority (e.g. track removal after poorly maintaining the tracks, going 1-way, speeding up the road, etc.) and the downtown gradually started getting hollowed out over the next few decades long before the industry downturn completed kicking it already on the ground. Now we're only slowly returning from that abyss, in part thanks to James St N but we still have many years/decades of revitalization ahead, which are also in parallel to the LRT.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-11 09:40:47

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2016 at 12:29:29 in reply to Comment 115985

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2016 at 13:45:17 in reply to Comment 115998

See below response. It addresses what you said, I never advocated mingling for all cases, so please re-read the longer response below which has nothing to do with mingling, this time.

And yes, the new Concession revitalization is more pleasant to walk on even if the others have complained it wasn't good enough (e.g. bikes). Despite imperfections, there are now wider sidewalks, sidewalk trees (Albiet not enough) and curb bumpouts -- exactly what is also part of the LRT plan too. So, are you against the Concession revitalization, too, Jim? And didn't Concession add upgraded crosswalks too? So aren't you being hypocritical, not wanting the LRT corridor to have those benefits?

Also, I interpret you to mean that you are you're against SuperCrawl and other street-closure events? Cars are safely prevented from going onto James St N, so that pedestrians can use that road at that time.

You seem to use the same paintbrush much. Also, I don't have the same carbon copy mindset of Ryan, even if I agree on many things that we have -- for example I'm neutral on 6-lane RHVP -- while Ryan is anti 6-lane RHVP. Not all of us has to agree on every single line item.

Now, please read the below post more slowly as it has nothing to do with creating a Queens Quay style or mixed cars-and-pedestrians corridor at all. It's more of a conversion of an urban-expressway into a Concession/James/etc style artery. The very thing you like at the mountain brow, isn't it not?

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-12 13:57:33

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 11, 2016 at 11:18:42 in reply to Comment 115985

And Jim...

Before you respond, let me point out, I don't mean the silly notion of all streets in the entire grid from Windsor to Quebec City becoming Amsterdam/pedestrianized or whatever -- even German have their revered Autobahns and there are freeways through Netherlands. People still die from traffic deaths, yes, but far lower over there than here.

But let's point out the dramatic Complete Streets related elements already part of the 2011 LRT submissions, with several pages of the submission showing wider sidewalks, curb bumpouts, sidewalk trees, annd in some parts of King, only 1 car traffic lane. This is a great opportunity to install a safer throughfare. Let's consider Gage Park and Hamilton Downtown are only 30 minutes walk apart, yet most prefer hopping into the car because it's so car-optimized a corridor. This will over time, rebalance the modal mix along this route.

The LRT plan PDFs are very slow loading (they are very "blueprinty") but almost shocking of a change. (example screenshot1, example screenshot2, both with "widen sidewalk to 2.5m" notes in them). This is quite an adjustment, but also a great opportunity to make the corridor safer for all modes of transportation.

See, the templates slides, already designed, show that the LRT is one of the biggest street re-taming project in Hamilton ever -- I do not advocate jaywalking on the LRT route though. People will have to cross to get to the LRT stations too, and cross at many points halfway between stoplights, so there will be a lot more crosswalks (And we'd advocate for clear zebra ones + crosswalk signal).

Ultimately, King isn't going to be a high-speed throughfare anymore, with LRT-prioritized signalling and extra crosswalks, and that finally re-inserts a pretty safe crosstown corridor all the way between downtown and Gage Park, and a good recipie for business revitalization & re-pedestrianizing a revitalized King/Main corridors, especially with population re-densification downtown, etc.

But let face it, people will always jaywalk. But it only take a few braincells to stare at the 2011 LRT plan diagrams (which most are being reused, with some updates) and realize that cars are going to move much more slowly in the LRT corridor if those plans are followed, especially considering the wider sidewalks.

It's really not rocket science. There are many ways to improve Hamilton from many POVs, and heck some people think LRT is a downgrade for them (especially if they own a car) -- 6-lane RHVP (an improvement to many, an abomination to others) is technically/theoretically an independent change than the King corridor between Downtown and Gage Park. I've generally avoided getting into that controversy.

The LRT advocacy is unavoidably linked to corridor revitalizations due to the virtue of the 2011 plans, as you can see from the screenshots of the LRT plans.

It will really, really, really slow down my car, which I often speed to the 403 onramp to the Aldershot GO station. But with allday GO and allday LRT< I don't need to take the car anymore. And with more businesses reopening with a nicer pedestrianized corridor already marked into the 2011 LRT plan diagrams, it's a fair trade for a revital.

Hey -- I'm not stepping on RHVP, nor many other aspects of Hamilton you might defend -- I'm just defending the LRT corridor and one of our advocacy's objectives is to not let the 2011 plans get watered down -- and rather, advocate to enhance it where appropriate.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-11 11:42:55

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2016 at 14:10:38 in reply to Comment 115988

Regarding the theoretical concept of bikes-only Sundays I suggested as a possibility, that's with Supercrawl-style barricades. That's not mingling at all, just modal sharing. Perhaps this is what Jim got confused by. Also the suggested pedestrianization of IV is just a tiny fraction (few blocks) and doesn't mingle LRT with pedestrians. And when I mention "mixed traffic" with LRT, that's cars sharing lanes with LRVs for just a few block section (ala TTC streetcar style). Would really slow things down for that few blocks, though, but it isn't mingling pedestrians with vehicles! Just because I advocate multi-use trails in tame corridors (like the waterfront, shared between pedestrians and bikes).

Only if sufficiently revitalized enough by then -- and creates more business (e.g. popular enough that businesses profit more) and there's sufficient Sunday diversion capacity. James St. N was very dead 20 years ago too. It's still a commercial artery but an obviously tamer one.

Obviously, such revitalization attempts can be problematic (e.g. Barton Village) and that's one of the goals of residents to prevent such. Today, both Main-King are in relative terrible shape business-wise relative to history norms, though early signs of promising revitalization potential is occuring already (like Vintage Roasters, The Kitchen Collective, Limin' Ridge, replacing vacant/shuttered shutterfronts or opening adjacent to them).

I (and my spouse, plus some volunteers) have talked to some of them about their opinion of the LRT, like Vintage Roasters, the newcoming businesses are looking forward to the LRT, while some established ones are more worried. We've even found that places like restaurants and coffeeshops were far less worried than, say, a bowling alley that relies on out-of-town bowling club members who need nearby parking. Two coffeeshops, including Vintage Roasters on King, were commenting they were planning to do a coffeecart to the tired construction workers (clever!).

They all like the idea of a James/Concession style revitalization (obviously, exact details are unknown, like how many trees, or how many extra signalled crosswalks are added, but similarities abound in wider sidewalks, sidewalk trees, curb bumpouts, more signalled pedestrian crossings, etc). The very thing you have on Concession Ave, on the mountain brow. There's only one traffic lane in each direction through Concession BIA.

If Jim is okay with what is essentially an enhanced variant of a James/Concession style revitalization (and with more crosswalks too) then I'm not sure we're disagreeing on much for specifically the LRT corridor? (even if we disagree on other things). Obviously, I'd want more sidewalk trees than there are on Concession, and find a way to fit bikes without too many compromises (e.g. renarrowing sidewalks, or making drivers even madder), but those are details, relatively speaking.

(...Certainly a cycle track topic will come up (on either Main or King) or enhanced connections to an upgraded Cannon cycle track, but this isn't a "mingling" disagreement as this is a modal separation...)

Keeping pedestrians and cars apart also means adding more safe crossings (more signalled crosswalks & clearer ones at them), and that's also what's being advocated in the LRT corridor. We can't 100% prevent jaywalkers, but we can do things to (1) encourage people to take crosswalks by adding more of them, and (2) reduce the death rate of those who don't. You can already see that instead of 4 traffic lanes, there's only 1 traffic lanes specifically in the specific section between downtown and Gage Park (I'm not talking about other parts of the LRT route, for the sake of this argument). So vehicle count AND vehicle speed is greatly reduced on this section of King (while still moving more total people, obviously, thanks to the LRT capacity) WHILE also simultaneously there are more crosswalks. So it becomes easier to walk around. Enforcement helps. Overall, the risk of a pedestrian accident goes down. Perhaps this is what you are attacking as "mingling", but read again -- people are encouraged to follow the law and take crosswalks. But we cannot be a police state and get a perfect zero-jaywalk record. (Incidentially: This is one element of partially what Vision Zero is about -- while not everyone agrees with all goals of Vision Zero, many residents and businesses here are agreeing on the taming aspect and revitalization aspects).

More legal signalled pedestrian crossings just like Concession BIA at the mountain brow.. I'd be surprised if you even disagree on that.

There are many crosstown arteries that some traffic management will be needed. There's Barton, Cannon, Main (east of Gage Park), King (west of Delta), and Wilson (east of Sherman). There isn't enough good pedestrian capacity anymore (sidewalks & ease of legal pedestrian crossings) like there used to be historically, and that is very bad, and the LRT is simply helping reinstall some of that separated pedestrian capacity again, even totally ignoring that mingling subtopic.

Unless it's your preference that King between Downtown and Gage remains a high speed multilane car throughfare with lights still synchronized to the cars rather than the LRVs, and often with sections of more than 500 meters between traffic lights for legal pedestrian crossings? That's where lots of the disagreements historically are often occuring, I think.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-12 14:55:08

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2016 at 06:49:04 in reply to Comment 116001

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted January 14, 2016 at 19:22:19 in reply to Comment 116043

That's exactly one of the reasons what the meetings are for -- get ideas, where the LRT advocacy team's workdshop is the residents modify the vision in various elements, e.g. add extra crosswalks, or suggest a safety fine-tuning near the new school near the stadium, etc. Or whatever. Quite open minded, mind you. The 2011 LRT plan templates aren't my vision, but it's a far better vision than what's out there today.

Again, I'm not Ryan. My impression is that you're unfamiliar with the majority of the people opinion along the reoute, as I attend the monthly community meetings here. I even said there are good kinds of 1-way streets, if properly done.

For example, there is always some disagreement on what happens to Main St but the vast majority along the route want to see a corridor taming of some kind (not my vision) go hand-in-hand with the LRT. Which may or may not include Main 2-way, although mathematically a King LRT tends to greatly raise the neighborhood favourability of that option.

Really; The LRT advocacy team isn't blocking options -- the job is to simply relay neighborhood feedback to the City/Metrolnx contacts regarding the 2011 LRT plans, many residents have never seen these plans -- this is all before the city's/province's public consultations that they will do themselves.

Main/King 2-way works incredibly well for cars; but with the LRT taking several lanes off King it no longer works well, and lanes of traffic needs to be somehow reassigned (whether King 1-way or 2-way and which/what sections, and whether Main 1-way or 2-way, etc).

What actually ends up happening may be certainly totally different from the 2011 LRT plans, but it's also the communities' interests to make sure the LRT also have the best social/economic benefits -- which, of course, means more jobs, easier transportation, easier walking, etc. Certainly can't deny that.

However, it's important to do the best that the LRT project continues with the best possible planning and concurrent revitalization (including improvements to other modes, like pedestrians) and is not screwed up with some Edmonton-style fiasco, and the opening of Ottawa/Waterloo's LRTs (both open within the next 2-3 years) will be a turning point. It's quite important to make sure.

I do not have a monopoly on LRT plans. But many, many, many people are agreeing on the importance on doing this properly and avoiding many cities' mistakes. For example, the "Citizen Jury" had a meeting and then the city artist wrote their deliberations into artwork, such as this one:


This is only one of many...from only one group. (one that I'm not a member of, even if I've visited their earlier open-to-public events)

(The Jury meetings were all open to the public, if you were following them.)

The bottom line is there are really many groups, our citizen advocacy, Fred's citizen jury, HCF, the hubs, etc, all vying to provide feedback on the LRT. No all are agreeing but there are many common theme: that when building the Hamilton LRT it should be built right -- not screw it up -- and that we have to get the best social/economic benefits out of it

Dozens and dozens of events and meetings have been held by many kinds of groups (not just ours), some of which we've attended.

Engagement (one of the slides of one of the PowerPoint presentations of the Hamilton LRT advocacy team)

Go to any of the events/community meetings (ours or other groups) and engage in healthy discussion. Bringing up ideas that many people disagree with, means you have to work hard to explain why your idea is good, with lots of references and experiences that are found in other cities.

And invariably, they will explain their ideas back to you, e.g. their story they are unable to ride a wheelchair on a section of King, or that they never cross King on feet because it's a 10 minute walk (for their old body) to the nearest crosswalk, or that they don't let kid walk outside unattended like they do in other parts of city, etc.

Many, many, people with an opinion, here and there, many for the LRT while, some against the LRT, and even those against the LRT, some of them are interested and concerned about optimizing the side elements (like better sidewalks which they like the idea of), etc.

One point of view is; recognizing that the LRT is coming and everyone wants to see the best possible outcome (socially/economically) even though there are often disagreements, or not liking all elements of it, etc.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-01-14 19:53:48

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2016 at 06:37:57 in reply to Comment 116065

one of the longer non answers in the conversation. If silence implies consent, I will conclude your reply denotes dissent. I continue to believe that encouraging cyclists to use our busier, heavily congested arterial's is dangerous, short sighted and poorly considered. When vision or convenience trump safety the cart has been placed out in front of the horse. Ultimately safety will prevail
Although I do not share your vision, I do respect your willingness to lead the conversation and your level of committment

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By Crispy (registered) | Posted January 07, 2016 at 14:08:18 in reply to Comment 115940

Make sure you get right on that homework Jim.

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By heyyouguuuuuuuuuuys! (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2016 at 16:01:11

Hamilton's real estate prices are not that bad. The anomaly is that Hamilton is lumped in with Burlington and Grimsby's real estate. Burlington, specifically, averages out and raises the Hamilton price because the average home in Burlington is much, much more high and unattainable. Try to find ANY detached Burlington home for $450,000 or under, and then try to find one in Hamilton. Results are staggering.

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By TeaTime (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2016 at 18:17:21 in reply to Comment 115945

Spot on. There's a ton of detached properties available all over Hamilton for under $300,000. First time buyers can get into the market here for less than a condo costs. Just saying.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted January 09, 2016 at 00:17:44

When one nitpicks at details, the bigger-picture meaning of this posting gets lost.

Is Hamilton perfect? No. Is there a long way to go to improve it? Yes. Does that mean the future is grim and people (long-term Hamiltonians and newcomers alike) can't make a great home for themselves here?

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