Red Hill Promise Fulfilled?

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 14, 2008

Red Hill Valley Parkway supporters are crowing about a new box store opening on Barton near Woodward as if this were a validation of their support and a repudiation of its opponents. A brilliantly incisive reply by "highwater", an RTH commenter, puts this view into sharp perspective:

The pro-expressway cabal promised us that the expressway would bring loads of high-quality employment, that there were all kinds of companies who would just love to locate here if only we had an expressway!

So what do we do? We smash the largest gash into the face of a UNESCO World Biosphere and destroy the last remaining natural link between the lake and the escarpment, and what do we get?

Crappy, low-wage, part-time jobs at a far lower job/hectare ratio than we were promised. That and subdivisions. Imagine that! And this is supposed to be some kind of triumph that proves the pro-expressway people right?

It's exactly the opposite. Expressway opponents warned that all we would get for the mountain of debt that our children have incurred is subdivisions and big box retail. It is they who have been proven right so far, not the expressway proponents. [paragraph breaks added]

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Frank (registered) | Posted May 14, 2008 at 10:43:31

I supported some kind of up/down link on this side of the city OTHER than Highway 20. The traffic volumes on Centennial Parkway are noticeably less which makes the area I live in a whole heck of a lot safer. Not to mention the trip time being cut down by 1/3 to get up the mountain now which helps reduce GHG. What I am ticked about is the placement of box stores rather than the high quality jobs we were supposede to get. Also the "gash" actually will end up looking much less like one than you think. The creek is now cleaner, there's proper sewage management, less sedimentary problems, less smell, a cleaned up Rennie St. landfill. That all made up your killer biosphere. I still see deer... All in all, I tend to think the scale tipped pretty evenly.

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By H Mag (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2008 at 12:44:53

From Catch:
Councillors want ads to toot city’s horn
May 12, 2008

"...Hamilton is becoming very attractive because of land prices, location, opportunity and growth.”

Everson shared his enthusiasm, reporting that 570 new jobs were created last year at Rona, Zellers, Canadian Tire and Lowe’s stores

Toot away!

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By trey (registered) | Posted May 14, 2008 at 13:23:17

"Also the "gash" actually will end up looking much less like one than you think. The creek is now cleaner, there's proper sewage management, less sedimentary problems, less smell, a cleaned up Rennie St. landfill."

So what was stopping the City from cleaning up the creek? Why did it have to take a highway before the City started to care about it?

So the options were. 1. leave the creek as a mess. or 2. build a highway and then clean up the creek.

No third option? Clean the creek and not build a highway.

It's the same argument pro-expressway people are offering. No-jobs vs. Retail/box jobs. No-jobs was never an option. How about? Good paying/educated jobs vs. Retail/box jobs.

When options are created simply to have them fail and throw-away, they weren't real options.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 14, 2008 at 14:56:58

Holy Cow. A blog about my little comment. I feel like I've been rec'd on DailyKos or something! I wouldn't have used the word "crappy" had I known.

Frank, I'm thrilled to hear that the Redhill has cut down your drive time, but that isn't how this was billed. By the way, it isn't 'my' biosphere, it's UNESCO's. We had something truly special and unique in the world and we trashed it, for what? The only thing that could possibly make up for this act of vandalism is thousands of high-paying, high-skill jobs and a whopping increase in our tax base. So far, the only promise of high-quality jobs in this city are in the Innovation Park, completely unaffected by the expressway. And we still have a chance to screw that up too.

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By Thom (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2008 at 16:20:23

I'm concerned about the comment that the new expressway reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Sure compared with driving in the city, the constant speeds and no stops on the expressway mean that fuel is burned consistently and therefore there are fewer emissions. But really this is a limited argument.

The best way for each of us as individuals to actually reduce our personal GHGs is to dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, our driving. There are plenty of inexpensive options available including transit and cycling.

Driving on the expressway you might save a ton of GHG over a year compared with Centennial but you would save 20 tons or more if you took the bus for most of your trips. That's a really compelling argument.

And in terms of congestion on the expressway, just wait, it's a well known fact (except perhaps in Hamilton) that trips increase to fill new road capacity. If you know that you won't get stuck in traffic you'll run separate trips instead of combining them to minimize the bother. Then roads fill up and drivers complain and we get more roads.

So building roads and highways are terribly short-term solutions but so are most things that all governments do. Alas.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted May 15, 2008 at 13:03:08

Thom, by cutting time off my drive which, I might say is the longest drive I have to do except for the occasional downtown run, I am reducing my GHG. Have you seen our buses recently? In one belch they emit more GHG than my little Sentra driving for one hour. I haven't seen any data to suggest trips have increased or decreased and quite frankly, without an adequate transit system that gets me where I need to be in relatively short order, I could care less. I won't get onto a belching beast and sway through more traffic than I'd have to drive through in order to get the to my destination in over an hour when the RHCE has cut that down to a 10 or 15 minute drive max. Maybe you have that kind of time, but I don't. Also, I'd like to see what the tonnes of GHG per person of our city buses are in real life. An FYI, my Sentra still pulls at between 9 and 10 L/100kms and it's 14 years old.
Buses, my friend, aren't the answer. If I had LRT which would take me downtown in decent time and then rode a bus or another train up the escarpment and managed to get to a point somewhere near my destination in less than 45 mins, I'd probably take it. As it is right now, I drive to work (after nearly getting killed by a snack truck who didn;t look before making a right turn) because buses don't run frequently enough to the industrial area in Stoney Creek. Heck, I'm all for being environmentally conscious but I am of the impression that if everyone did a bit of something, we'd have a much greater impact than if a few people acted like environmental nutjobs. I know how to reduce/eliminate GHGs but right now, theres no viable option. I drive as little as possible and I drive a little car. I conserve fuel quite well by using good driving habits. To address an earlier comment, the park would've been destroyed if crews had managed to clean the creek up properly anyway. As it is, there are MASSIVE CSO overflows built in which you can observe as you drive up the escarpment something that is a huge factor in removing the sewage from the creek. I still haven't seen any major city that didn't have properly built ring roads and altho I'm not saying that the location is ideal, I will say that the design in amazing in its complexity and quite aesthetically pleasing...for a highway. Sometimes there are necessary evils...

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By sick of red hill (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2008 at 00:33:57

We are just getting the city we deserve.

For as a whole, this smog filled, trash heap of a city filled with unfullfilling jobs which do nothing but crush the spirit and occupy enough time to keep people from working towards a better future, is exactly the city the majority of Hamiltonians have asked for with their apathy, silence and non-action.

And to those still deluded enough to think a few minutes shaved off their travel time is doing something for the environement, remember, the link to the QEW is not even finished yet. Just wait until you are competing with the added truck traffic.

But even without it, that marginal gain pales in comparison for what was lost in the valley.

Move on and shut up about the expressway. The time to say and do anything about it's affects have passed and you missed it.

Those who actually tried to make a difference are sick and tired of those who whine about it, or comment about it, or crow about it now as if they had anything to do with it.

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By Roadster (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2008 at 05:12:32

Sick of Red Hill....you said it. Amen. The road is here. Long live the road! Stop the whining.

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By trey (registered) | Posted May 20, 2008 at 15:39:49

Since it's only used as a local road, why not put tolls on it? Business shouldn't object since they aren't using it anyway. Truckers don't need it, they continue to drive through downtown streets. Put in Toll Booths, not even the fancy transponder kind, I suggest the US style slow-down and toss a loonie toll booths. That must be cheaper then transponders.

Why have the rest of the city pay for a road they will never use or WILL NOT lower taxes from increased assessment?

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2008 at 10:19:58

According to the City of Hamilton's 2007 Economic Development Review, the Glanbrook Industrial Park is currently being serviced over the next couple of years and will result in over 400 acres of industrial land. The expressway will make that park attractive to new industrial residents. In addition, the expressway will also make the aerotropolis project attractive to industrial development (as would the mid-penn highway).

Sorry Ryan if the benefits of the expressway did not happen overnight for you.

Those of you who are still crying over this road seem to have too much time on your hands.

The people of this city have spoken in favour of this road and the debate is over. Those of you who don't like are free to take the nearest highway out of town!

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By trey (registered) | Posted May 21, 2008 at 13:43:25

As long as they stop rezoning Glanbrook Industrial Land for fast food, drive-thrus, gas stations, and car washes. Like McCabe did at the corner of Rymal and Dartnall.

Also I hope to see some Fortune 500 companies locate in Hamilton. We do have the highway now let's hope it lives up to its promises. The problem is it hasn't, not yet. Maybe never, maybe it will. But Hamilton was told the highway was the only thing stopping a list of companies from locating here. The highway is here and now we need to expand the boundry to more servicable land. The Glanbrook industrial park has been here for a long time. What now is the reason?

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By Skeptic (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2008 at 13:47:27

And the expressway was supposed to cure incurable diseases and put two chickens in every pot, as well as leading to the fountain of youth!
How come it hasn't?

We have been duped one more time by the Capitalists and anti environmentalists of this world.

Last time I believe any of them!

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By Seinfeld (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2008 at 07:26:36

Ryan said it best: "Yadda yadda yadda; blah blah blah blah blah BLAH"

Could not agree with Ryan's Rants more!

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