Two-Way Conversions, Ancaster Transit Improvement Casualties of Budget Vote

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 10, 2014

this blog entry has been updated

You just can't make this up: City Council voted not to approve a baby-steps citizens panel on two-way conversions because several streets have already been approved for two-way conversion and don't need to be studied any more - but the city's not going to go ahead and convert the streets, either.

Here is a Google Map of the two-way conversions that are listed as completed, pending and under consideration in the staff report Five Year Plan Regarding Two-Way Street Conversions (PW13097) [PDF]:

The green lines are streets that have been converted, the amber lines are streets that were approved back in 2001 but haven't been converted yet, and the red lines are streets that are under consideration but haven't been approved.

Another 70 or so one-way streets, not specially marked on the map, aren't even under consideration.

Council made it clear that there's no way the City can move ahead with the already-approved streets and also study the additional set of streets that aren't already approved, like Queen and Bay, at the same time.

Because when it comes to making lower city streets more humane, Hamilton can only do one thing at a time.

And in this case, we can't even do one thing. There are no plans or dedicated funds to complete the already-approved street conversions in the 2014 budget that Council just approved.

Thanks to Joey Coleman you can watch the debate:

Improved Bus Service Reduced

Special bonus point to Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who ratcheted down a community-initiated proposal for improved Rymal 44 bus service to Redeemer College and the Ancaster Industrial Park from a bus every 30 minutes to a bus every hour. Because transit is still area rated, cutting this will save the average $500,000 Ancaster house a whopping $20 in annual property tax.

Defending his decision, Ferguson said, "Maybe some members of Council haven't heard from the people of Ancaster, but I have. Loud and clear. They're annoyed, 'cause they won't use it. And why are we paying for it?"

Of course, that is itself an artifact of area rating, in which different parts of the city pay different tax rates toward transit based on service levels. If transit wasn't area rated, the cost of expanding transit to Redeemer and Ancaster business parks would be shared citywide.

Given that most of the people who would use an enhanced Rymal 44 bus to Ancaster would be people commuting into Ancaster to go to school or work, this is an excellent example of how area rating fragments the city's transportation network and reduces its effectiveness.

But 13 years after amalgamation, Council is still terrified of the idea of addressing area rating for transit.

Again, Joey Coleman has captured all the glory on video:

Just pathetic. October 27 can't come fast enough.

Update: updated to include a map of street conversions completed, pending and under consideration.

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 jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 08:35:26

Very convenient. First they water down the two-way implementation committee and demand it only be a citizens committee. Then, give approval at the committee level. Then pass the budget. Then scrap the citizens committee at council and say "whoops, the budget is already done. There's no money for 2-way conversions this year."

Maybe next year. Or next decade.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:02:54

October 27 can't come soon enough, but I have this sneaking suspicion that a lot of these desiccated corpses are going to be re-elected. There are a lot of complacent, uninvolved citizens in HamOnt.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:17:28 in reply to Comment 100126

I'm expecting the only real changes in council to happen in the Mayor's seat and the wards where councillors are no longer available to be re-elected. Wards 1, 3 and 9. Ward 1 will likely elect a leftist/urbanist... currently I'm rooting for Jason Allen. Ward 9 won't have any real change either - the new councillor will be somebody in Whitehead's camp. The rest of Council is solidly supported in their communities - no matter how we feel about Ferguson and Whitehead and the like, they reflect the values of their constituents.

The only possibility for a real political change on council are wards 3 and the Mayor's seat. Those are going to be the battlegrounds this election.

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By SoWhat (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:15:03

I agree with chad colins. let's stop spending money studying then and simply move forward converting them.
a citizen panel has already clearly marked queen for two way conversion, we know and the city knows it need to happen. we should be pushing to get the conversion funds approved rather than funds to study the thing to death!

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By YourNeighbourInAncaster (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:20:06

Twitter erupted with anti-Ancaster-resident posts after this was published (not implying the article was the cause). Trashing Lloyd Ferguson's motion/decision is one thing. Trashing the residents of Ancaster is divisive, foolish and short-sighted if you have 'One City' goals unless you think of Ancaster as a property tax 'piggy bank'. How about we work together instead of perpetuating the downtown/Mountain divide BS for another four years?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:00:23 in reply to Comment 100128

I agree completely, but I think for the most part people were responding to the way your own councillor was portraying his constituents; as the sort of people who resent contributing even a nominal sum toward a public good just because it doesn't benefit them directly.

Your comment is an important reminder that we need to be more aware, and do a better job resisting the lazy stereotyping and divisive rhetoric employed by some of our so-called leaders, but in this particular instance the lion's share of the blame belongs on Ferguson.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:07:25 in reply to Comment 100128

I didn't see that. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of Ancaster residents I saw take to twitter to chastise their councillor for such a pea-brained move.

Although, what you observed wouldn't surprise me in the least. Such is life online.

Lloyds residents should frame that $20 bill he saved them, and gaze at it longingly as they spend thousands of dollars in gas, wear and tear on their cars and hours of this next year sitting in their cars driving their kids to school, work, sports, music, extracurriculars etc.... 30 minute service would have become a legit alternative for many families living there. 1 hour service is totally useless.

This is exactly what leadership DOESN'T look like. Save your constituents $20 and force them to spend hundreds or thousands more and many hours of their life instead.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:29:22

"The $95,000 could be used to implement two conversions"

So do it!

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:57:37

Absolutely infuriating. The "I won't use it so why the hell should I pay for it" mentality that is dominating our current public discourse ignores all evidence that shows that public goods like transit have significant benefits to the community as a whole.

Pathetic lack of vision and leadership.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 14:07:23 in reply to Comment 100132

It breaks my heart when I hear stuff like that. It is the decay of the very values that built and defined our great country in the first place. The barbarians are at the gates, as someone here put it.

Even animals understand the concept of "today you, tomorrow me".

Geese help each other. Scientists also discovered that when one goose becomes ill, is shot or injured, and drops out of the formation, two other geese will fall out of formation and remain with the weakened goose. They will stay with and protect the injured goose from predators until it is able to fly again or dies. Likewise, human teams work best when they do more than just work together, but care for the well being of each other.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 14:13:07 in reply to Comment 100160

And the worst part is, it will help him get re-elected. A greater % of people in his ward will be happy that he saved them $20 and made life difficult for thousands of young people, seniors and employees of the Ancaster business park who need good transit. De-amalgamation anyone?

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 14:38:21 in reply to Comment 100161

I think there are several factors.

One perhaps is getting more of the voting public engaged. As one small example, I'm ashamed to say I never voted in a municipal election before. Never gave it any thought, felt futile and a waste of time. It no longer does. That former "me" is who has to become engaged. We will be depending largely on this site for a good education on the candidates and issues. Even reading about political topics can cause migraines, and given statistics/articles on apathy, and young voters only recently starting to vote in larger numbers, is it possible the process has been self-selecting out the progressive voters?

Sociopathy is damaging the public realm, but I don't think it is truly taking over as a way of life. I think those Ford Nation people tend to be the loudest. Really, the most passionate for something tend to be the loudest, an inverse bell curve of sorts. I have to believe that most of our neighbors are still people of strong social conscience. Given my observation that when you actually ask neighborhoods and take surveys, these sorts of initiatives do get a lot of support, I'll consider that evidence that a few selfish get overrepresented. However every household's budget is stretched as well, and nobody want further price increases on anything, and this is where good leadership and good quality journalism can educate and give good SWOT analyses and arguments.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:01:06 in reply to Comment 100163

Lower the voting age to match the driving age. Have a functional Renewable Energy Facilitation Office and real, renewable energy instead on natural gas and the Ontario Energy Board's price hikes. Convert all arable and available land to community gardens, as Detroit did. Read some James Kunstler.

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By grahamm (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:24:59

I can only assume, then, that all the Councillors opposed to the citizen's group will be strong supporters of creating a budget for conversions?

Just when you think we might be getting somewhere...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:29:04

Honestly, I think the only way we're going to see 2-way conversions is through the participatory budget process. The problem is primarily local to wards 1 and 2, so it will have to be handled by wards 1 and 2. While council and traffic engineers will block any PB-based 2-way conversion actions on major arteries, all the local 1-way roads in wards 1 and 2 could be tackled through the PB process.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-04-10 10:29:19

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By Mass Strolls (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 17:36:57

I'm starting to think organized mass strolls along some one-ways, at "rush" hour, might be the way to go.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 13:04:09 in reply to Comment 100179

Yep. I agree.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 21:41:36

$20.00 is a great savings? What does Mr Fergusan not believe poverty exists in Lancaster? Sad state of affairs!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 11, 2014 at 10:32:26

Alrighty, just submitted my Participatory Budgeting request for Ward 1:

"2-way convert Pearl, Ray, Jackson, Canada, Hunter, Bold, Pine, Tucket, Chatham, Charlton, Herkimer, Stanley, and Homewood streets all west of Queen."

I left King and Main off this specifically so it's completely uncontroversial. I'd be shocked to learn if anybody in the city would object to those conversions. I left Queen off because the city is already talking about studying and converting Queen.

Hopefully our Ward 2 counterparts can make a similar PB action for their 1-way local/collector roads east of Queen.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted April 13, 2014 at 05:09:34 in reply to Comment 100204

Absolutely ridiculous. If you drive along some of those streets, they are effectively 1 way as there's parking on both or one site of the street. Since a vast majority of these homes lack on-property parking they are reduced to parking on the street. A good friend of mine has a home on one of those streets and has a "driveway" on the back portion of his property, accessible via an alley which is in a deplorable state, and not maintained by the city. IT was, however, built by the city a long time ago. Should it become his and his neighbours' responsibility to rebuild the alley, or convert their front yard to parking? Or just throw away his car? Please let me know.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2014 at 08:46:14 in reply to Comment 100255

Streets in the North side of town are just as narrow, have the same lack of driveways, and are two-way. How is Head Street so different from Chatham Street?There are neighborhoods just like Durand and Kirkendall all over Canada... all over the world in general, but also all over Hamilton in particular. All those neighborhoods all over the world, and how many of them are all-one-ways?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted April 14, 2014 at 17:35:01 in reply to Comment 100259

Not sure, how many?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2014 at 16:13:31 in reply to Comment 100271

Just finished counting them for you: 23

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 18:38:22 in reply to Comment 100204

Yes, I think I'll submit for conversion of the streets in Ward 2. Nothing to lose.

RE: Ancaster. I spoke to someone who generally supports Lloyd Ferguson and lives in his ward. In his opinion, Lloyd Ferguson is "business-friendly" (which is good). But he was really pissed about Ferguson's transit motion. Not only does it affect his kids' ability to use transit and ties the parents into more driving, but it's also a business-UNFRIENDLY vote. There's an industrial park in Ancaster that has very bad or NO bus service. The lack of bus service makes it more difficult for the businesses there to find qualified employees because everyone has to own a car to get there.

The bottom line is that we need progressive candidates in all wards -- those who will consider all aspects of different ideas and how just saying "no" to all tax increases (no matter how small) is false economy.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted April 16, 2014 at 17:45:49 in reply to Comment 100218

The lack of bus service makes it more difficult for the businesses there to find qualified employees because everyone has to own a car to get there.

Exactly. The lack of transportation options forces businesses (and thereby consumers after the cost is passed along) to subsidize the high cost of car transportation. It also reduces competitiveness. If no one can get to work without a car, companies have to pay a much higher rate to attract a similarly qualified applicant. For the employees it is no convenience at all. I go to work to pay for my car loan, and I pay for my car loan to go to work.

Comment edited by arienc on 2014-04-16 17:46:16

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 17, 2014 at 09:05:40 in reply to Comment 100354

This was one of the points I made against the re-location of the Education Centre from downtown to a car-centric location by Limeridge Mall. Good luck trying to attract top talent to our public school board when the current boomer-aged employees start retiring.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 20:36:25

I try to understand to term business friendly. How does that term equate to someone or something that means it is good opposite to something that is not good. If our system does not look out for the common good, how is it good? How can we equate those businesses or political leaders that allow for abuses in the workplace or even the anti union rhertoric that is taught the young people in the numerous business schools across our university campuses? while Mr Fergusan has made his money, does he really give a crap about those who he has suppressed? Why is he held in high esteem? I ask when do people stand insolidarity to defeat voices like his? When is the truth told, or is he of the Minsitry of Truth, given the story told in 1984.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:59:22 in reply to Comment 100220

@scrap, I know what you mean but I've learned over my lifetime that people on the far right of the political spectrum can't "undrink" the KoolAid. And they don't want to.

I'm beginning to think that the right-wing thought process (low business taxes and etc are GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY) is hard-wired, or at least learned at such an impressionable age that it may as well be hard-wired. And the same goes for liberal thinking. These labels I'm using are on a spectrum. Most people are not at one end of the Left-Right dichotomy, but fall a certain number of degrees left or right of centre and have different viewpoints on a variety of issues.

I don't think liberal or left-thinkers are more intelligent than right-thinkers, but I do think left-thinkers can see more greys -- everything isn't BLACK or WHITE, there are multiple layers to be considered for every issue.

Mr. Ferguson probably doesn't believe he has suppressed anyone. If you were to point out suppression of a group (i.e. transit riders), he would see the same group as choosing their own situation, and it's not his responsibility or that of his constituents to change the situation for that group.

We need city-wide, progressive thinkers at the council table, or at least a majority of them. And from watching the last council meeting, I think we need to rearrange the seating as well. The alliances are entrenched, and it's unhealthy.

Comment edited by fmurray on 2014-04-13 11:00:06

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:53:28 in reply to Comment 100260

Thanks for your thoughts fmurray.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:03:48 in reply to Comment 100220

I would like to state that I really enjoy your commentary. Thanks for it.

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