Downtown Toronto Resists 'Neighbours to the North'

By Jason Leach
Published March 01, 2009

An interesting piece in the weekend Toronto Star talks about plans underway to remove a lane of traffic on Jarvis St in Toronto in order to make the street more livable and less of an inner-city highway.

Reading pieces like this is a healthy reminder of how far behind Hamilton is when it comes to putting priority on those who live and own businesses on our own vast network of inner-city highways.

With all due respect to the author, Toronto urbanist Christopher Hume, Jarvis as it is today would be downright welcoming and friendly as a replacement for many of Hamilton's downtown streets.

Kudos to that city for resisting pressures from "neighbours to the north", as Hume puts it. Revamped properly, Jarvis could become another Toronto street filled with people and businesses instead of just speeding cars.

Similarly, let's hope that here in Hamilton, Council resists pressure from "neighbours to the south" and continue calming other streets in a similar manner as James, John and now a small portion of York will be.

Recent reports out of city hall have stated that traffic staff are looking for ways to speed up traffic again on James and John.

Let's hope local businesses, councillors and citizens (the ones who live near those streets, not 20 minutes to the south) will mount a fight against such backward thinking and demand more positive changes to build on the success of those two-way conversions recently, instead of taking another giant step back into the 1950s.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2009 at 15:13:24

Where can we send comments about James/John Street and two way versus "speeding it up" somehow...

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2009 at 15:15:49

I realized that wasn't very clear.

What I mean is: Is there a committee looking at this? Is the public able to provide input? Do we know anything about their proposed methods of speeding up traffic?

Is it too early to have this discussion and we should just keep an eye on it for now?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 02, 2009 at 15:54:40

no, it's definitely not too early. I think they are exploring options as we speak. No idea if they have an implementation timetable. Maybe they'll try to coordinate it with businesses along those streets who will want to close down if they become highways again.

I'd start by emailing your councilor and the mayor. I'll try to dig up the info about this project. I think we posted it here on RTH a few weeks back.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 02, 2009 at 15:57:22

here's some info about this:

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By David (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2009 at 17:05:11

Restoring the livability of streets is a good plan, as long as there are good alternatives with few or sensored traffic lights. Otherwise, you end up with people speeding through parks or other areas for the replacement shortcuts, usually to avoid traffic control.

From the original article, it's hard to understand why the featured building is considered an eyesore (particularly by the commenter) when the skyscraper in the background is not. Or how could that street ever be "fixed" to be a quaint area with the big city influence looming over it.

Perhaps completely against the philosophy here, but at some point it seems one has to ask if a city can obsolete itself against meaningful improvement with size and population. Small, quaint towns surrounded by agriculture will be the key places to live once transportation energy becomes a serious factor.

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