Stuck in a Rut

By Jason Leach
Published March 17, 2005

Well, another day, another example of Hamilton being stuck in a rut with some folks perfectly happy to keep it that way.

The city approved the new zoning plan for the west harbour area of the city, calling for new pedestrian areas, mixed-use buildings housing upper-floor lofts and condos with streetfront retail as well as high standards in architectural design.

The Harbour West neighbourhood association has concerns about the traffic impacts on their neighbourhood streets, as do I. This one concern was never addressed appropriately by the planners of this project.

I personally emailed them and attended public meetings hoping to hear plans for streetcar lines linking the water to the downtown and traffic impacts being minimized, but it never happened.

Traffic aside, this is a great plan for a part of our city that has seen a resurgence in recent years. This truly is one of the few examples in Hamilton where council spending has actually produced good results.

For the record, I don't consider suburban sprawl to be 'good results'. Unfortunately, council does.

You would think that people would be excited about the chance to reclaim one small portion of our waterfront for housing and public space, but remember, this is Hamilton.

Currently the NY Jets are planning a new stadium on the site of a railyard in New York City. Portland removed some industry from their waterfront and is building a wonderful mixed-use neighbourhood similar to the one proposed for Hamilton. This is a common practice done all over the world.

At the city council meeting this week we heard from the harbour west group and their legitimate concerns about traffic. However, we also heard from some of the industrial folks currently in the west harbour area.

CN told the city they have no plans or desire to move their huge railyard. A recycling plant on Barton Street told the city they have no intentions of moving and actually want to expand their operation.

Now, I can sympathize with any business or resident being forced out of their familiar location. However, I have much less sympathy for these industrial type uses, considering the fact that there are thousands of acres of empty land along the entire length of our harbour east of Pier 8.

These industries can easily relocate to that part of the city and have plenty of room to expand and do all the smelly business they please.

CN may have to get creative and find a sizeable location for their railyard, but I'm sure the city is willing to help. Maybe an airport site. Maybe a site on Eastport Drive or even Burlington Street.

There are plenty of options and I hope that city council will have the courage to stand up to CN or anyone else who tries to bully us into remaining an ugly dumping ground with not one pleasant waterfront spot for the taxpayers of this city to enjoy year-round.

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 Steeltown (registered) | Posted March 17, 2005 at 08:00:22

If Aldershot was quick to take away Hamilton's VIA and GO station, we got back the GO station thankfully, then they shouldn't have a problem taking away Hamilton's CN Stuart Street Yard. Which is what City Hall wants to do with the CN yard.

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