Readers suggest that it's hopeless to work with city council and that transportation issues are complex.
By Letter to the Editor
Published February 19, 2005
I read your 2004 Report with a lot of interest. You have obviously done your homework. It makes a lot of sense and I agree with basically all of it.
The only major disagreement I have deals with the attempts to urge city councillors to improve. This is not going to happen. Most of them like things just they way they are. The developers who own most of our politicians are rightly confident in their constant and continuing support.
Hamilton is a divided city - pitting "us" (activists who are right) against "them" (arrogant elites who are wrong). I don't think that reconciliation in Hamilton is possible, and I don't want to waste energy pursuing it. "They" have power now and are using it for their selfish purposes, and the only way to change that is for "us" to kick them out and take their power and use it for good.
Activists have tried to work with the power elite in Hamilton many times (i.e. the creation of Vision 2020) and each time, the process was a waste of time. Forget reconciliation. It's time to fight.
I've lived in the lower city all my life and have lamented the change in the core for years. I used to love to go downtown, even by myself, to putter around. I lived in the west end and bussed through downtown all the time. Years ago I always got off and spent some time shopping. Now I wouldn't dream of it. I feel vaguely uneasy there now.
I think the downtown lost a lot when they lost the big stores like Woolworths, Kresges, Robinsons, The Right House and of course Eaton's. Now there is nothing to go there for. The stores in Jackson Square are too expensive. And the Square itself is too dark and dreary. I think that is the major problem with people not going downtown.
One other huge problem as far as I can see is that Hamilton desperately needs an east/west traffic corridor. When you can only get on the highways for either end, that really forces a lot of us to drive across the city twice a day whether we like it or not.
Your street plan would cause chaos for folks trying to go to work in the morning. It's bad enough as it is. Forcing people to slow down if they have no other route to choose is just asking for trouble as far as I can see it. I'm working in Burlington now, and King Street is already too slow for me.
I take Delaware/Stinson/Hunter to Bay Street. If they widened that, that could be the "west" corridor maybe. So far, you can't beat Main Street for the "east". And I can't think of a reasonable alternative to that. Forcing people to linger downtown rather than drawing them there would be a mistake in my opinion.
I love the idea of having more things on the streets. It would be kind of like Italy on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond I saw this week. Really charming. But without economical shopping as a destination, no amount of patios would get me there, sorry to say.
It's a complex problem.
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