Politics

All Part of the Cost of Doing Bidness

By RTH Staff
Published October 18, 2007

The Hamilton Spectator reports today that Losani Homes (1998) Ltd. has pleaded guilty to violating the Municipal Elections Act by overcontributing to former Mayor Larry Di Ianni's 2003 campaign.

The law restricts corporate donations to $750, but Losani gave the Di Ianni campaign a cheque for $2000, claiming it was meant to represent $500 each from four related companies.

Since all the companies build houses, are based at the same address and have the same owners, the elections act treats them as a single entity.

Ken Dechert, the Justice of the Peace assigned to the case, fined the company $1,125, the amount it overcontributed. Dechert hoped to demonstrate "that substantial financial consequences will flow from even inadvertent transgressions of campaign financing rules."

Some demonstration. The collective overcontributions of the home building industry to Di Ianni's campaign helped him win the 2003 election and ram through the construction of the Red Hill Expressway, which opened up a billion dollars in new residential development lands.

For the companies that broke the law, the penalties they paid were a lucrative investment in producing a friendlier bidness climate.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 18, 2007 at 14:45:06

Ram through the expressway?!? It's about time it got built. Without it, there is absolutely no way that downtown could ever see any sort of traffic relief. Not to mention the incredible hazard Highway 20 currently is to pedestrians and cyclists.

I had the fortune of touring the project during the construction phase and used to work with the lead engineer on the project. The expressway has also won an award for it's care with respect to environmental concerns and engineers from several countries have come to tour the realignment of the Red Hill Creek which has received the Consulting Engineers of Ontario Award of Environmental Infrastructure and is currently the longest, continuous creek restoration project using natural channel design (which i might add is spectacular!). We have new large "container" sewer and a new CSO tank which lowers the emission of pollutants into the creek, the Rennie Street contaminated landfill has been removed...do I need to keep going?

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 18, 2007 at 16:16:46

Frank,

Why do you think the only way to solve traffic congestion is to build more roads?

As for your environmental thoughts - I think a better service to the environment would have been done if the road had not been built at all.

I agree that the road can now be used to off-load some of the downtown traffic but couldn't other measures have been implemented to achieve that? Don't forget that poor planning is partially to blame for the back up along Centennial. Why does nobody question this lack of planning (let's put a bunch of stores with parking on the same stretch of road used by commuter/pass-through traffic - there's a good idea) and learn from it.

Roads are expensive, environmentally unfriendly and they use massive amounts of land. While I understand that cars are here to stay and we have to accomodate their use this doesn't mean we should adopt lazy planning standards and promote their use at the expense of all other options. I like to travel by foot, bike and streetcar, why has so much of my money been spent over the years to build roads when I DON'T WANT TO DRIVE?! Why is so much of the infrastructure on which I depend build around road networks?

How about in future we approach the problem of traffic congestion with different solutions?(let's face it - eventually we are going to have to).

All hail to the car! Man this makes me so angry...!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 18, 2007 at 16:31:42

Frank, a basic principle of highway construction is that supply creates its own demand.

Take DeSantis, which stands to gain a billion dollars in new home sales on Summit Park thanks to Red Hill. All those people who will now be commuting up and down Red Hill would not be doing that if the highway didn't exist and the sprawl development was not accessible.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 18, 2007 at 17:40:52

Yes but Anonymous,

why are we investing such a massive amount of money, at such a huge environmental cost, in industries such as these?

Doesn't Hamilton want to invest in the 21st century growth industries, like the service sector (financial services, consulting, legal), IT, R&D, tourism, so that it's citizens can have more job options? (and let's face it - better working conditions).

Many of these jobs have the added benefit of not requiring new road networks to be built! In fact for a lot of them all they want is affordable office space, competitive taxes, a qualified work force and a location that offers them a variety of good transport options and a good quality of life. Wouldn't we rather invest our tax dollars in some of that?!

We have to get out of this lunch bucket mentality in Hamilton. There's nothing 'wrong' with blue collar jobs but if Hamilton is going to prosper it's got to start chasing investment in some of the more profitable inductries which don't require cutting scars through the town. Otherwise it's going to continue getting left behind.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2007 at 19:26:46

expressways and slaughterhouses...i don't know about everyone else but i think we can do better than that. that highway was built to open the east mountain to residential development, plain and simple. my god, it's 2007, not 1957! sometimes i have to remind myself of that fact.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 18, 2007 at 20:17:43

re: Maple Leaf. I know you didn't read this on the front page in the Speculator, but Maple Leaf has announced that they want to get out of the slaughterhouse business altogether. Believe it or not, there are other cities in Canada and the US whose citizens spoke out against them locating a plant in their areas. Crazy maniacs.

They have not increased their Burlington workforce and they may never.

Former mayors and regional chairmen stated "land above Red Hill is for INDUSTRIAL, not residential. Hmmm, 10,000 homes later and I've yet to hear about a single industrial plant. Same as the 403 extension, same as the Linc.....we built these highways for residential developers, not to bring jobs to Hamilton.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 08:55:03

Rusty and Ryan... first of all, Ryan, I know that highway design doesn't ever include the statement or what you call "principle" that "supply creates its own demand" since I've actually studied Highway Design. That's not to say that it doesn't happen. As far as planning goes, people have become much more dependent on the car than initially projected. Also, Hamilton mountain residents and especially Ancastervillians loves to drive, especially on highways (going slow in the left lane on the Linc when they're not passing anyone). The Linc isn't getting used properly. I have no idea whether or not the RHCE was built to promote residential development but I do know that the argument about environmental issues is moot. Building the roadway of course means that the road itself is there. However trees and other vegetations have been replanted with naturally occuring species at approximately 5:1 or more and the impact that the road itself has had is relatively minor. The Red Hill Creek, that you seem to think was doing great, STANK all year round because of the sewage that was being dumped in it. The sediment from the Mountain was starting to clog the creek at the mountain brow and it was inhabititable to fish. Now, with the natural concourse that's been built, fish can swim up the creek, live and spawn. They've done a fantastic job and it looks great. In a few years, you wouldn't know that it was built by humans except that you'll notice that the rocks are strategically placed to prevent erosion at dropoffs. It's absolutely amazing.

Rusty, building roads is also part of a forward thinking mentality. You somehow think that it'd be cheaper and smarter to attempt to develop downtown and ease congestion (thereby reducing emissions in a smog ridden city) without building adequate ways to go around the city? It's time to give your head a shake. Just because YOU don't want to drive doesn't mean that YOUR demands must be met. There happen to be a lot of people who HAVE to drive to get to work and it'd be assinine to assume that they won't simply because you don't want to.

Developing a city requires a broadbased approach throughout it and the RHCE although you may not ever travel it is necessary in order to facilitate through city traffic. If you ever want to ease congestion downtown, more roads must be built. BTW the RHCE is 2 lanes each direction with a third lane on the viaduct for trucks. Of course, if that was the only thing being done (Mayor DiAnni), then I'd be against it. However, in the past few months our mayor has outlined some fantastic strategies to enrich the downtown core and improve our transit system.

Finally, Rusty and Ryan, I'm not sure if either of you live anywhere remotely close to Hwy 20 and the RHCE but the effect it has on our community will be nothing but positive. I can't wait to be able to cross the street on Highway 20 without getting nearly run over by someone trying to get through the green into the line of traffic on the other side. Hopefully the city will be heads up and design a new cross section that includes sidewalks on both sides along the whole length of the roadway and build a new CNR bridge at the bottom. Also, since it seems that you don't like the housing developments going up on the mountain...what kind of fight did you put up for the housing complex being built right downtown southwest of Main and James? There's a nice empty lot where a medium sized footprint for a new apartment building could be built and the city approved a row house development! So much for intensification!

Centennial has been undersized for a long time and has long been slated for development and repair. One can only hope that the city will continue to move forward.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 09:35:35

Hey Anonymous,

I don't doubt that some industries are locating on the east Mountain, and I don't doubt that some of these jobs are better paying and more 'future friendly' than some of the dying industries, but just look at what we have to provide - and destroy - in order to attract them. And just look at the not-so-coincidental increase in housing that has occurred at the same time.

This kind of development is hugely expensive. Even if we discount the environmental and social costs, the $ ROI numbers - which no-one at City Hall EVER calculates by the way, which means we are forced to guess them - would almost certainly be atrocious, and never supported by any private corporation (again, I'd LOVE to see the actual numbers: - expressway costs $millions (to build and operate), - business taxes bring in $millions, - unemployment is reduced by xx bringing in $ extra taxes etc).

Apart from now being out of pocket then, what else have we done by providing this new infrastructure? We've encouraged sprawl! We can now have more low density car dependant housing which results in a net loss for the city in terms of costs versus tax revenues and associated environmental and social costs too!

And for what? The sake of a few warehousey jobs and a smattering of higher paying opportunities?

When you look at the alernatives - investing in existing infrastructure and providing incentives for some of the better paying growth industries, it's clear that this road, and this type of city building, is not an effective way to grow a city.

Another fact you simply can't ignore, when you look at how deeply the housing industry and land speculators are entrenched at City Hall, is just how much money these business are making from this investment of our tax dollars. The formula is simple - buy a farmers field at a low price. Sit on it for a while. Promote several councilor candidates and build relationships with them. Hire good lawyers and, when the time is right, push for improved infrastructure and road networks near your plot of land, get an approval for your re-zoning application and Bam! - you've made yourself a few million dollars.

The reality is that it's the developers who are defining the growth strategy for Hamilton, not any enlightened urban planners. Again, this is no way to build a city.

Nice chatting with ya!

Ben

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 09:45:55

Frank,

I just read your comments now. I'll ignore the personal remarks (really - 'assinine'? Come on Frankey, let's save these remarks for when we REALLY piss each other off OK? I assure you I don't have an assinine bone in my body :) I have always taken a studious, open-minded and thoughtful approach to city planning issues, and if we can't have this discussion in a civil manner and focus on the arguments alone then it ain't going to get anywhere).

OK, I guess I didn't ignore the personal attacks...well there you go. I guess I really did get pissed off (I've never been called assinine before :) )

As for your arguments, I got to get back to work now, but - I'll be back! Ben

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 09:56:22

Rusty... once again....what's going on downtown? The first area that should be developed into high density housing should be downtown and it spreads out from there. There's a good level of intensification downtown but it definately could use improvement and then there's the "core" on the mountain around U. James that has what, an apartment every block? Hardly time to look at housing on the outside. Of course, the sticky issue is that people who are moving in there should be moving into the intensified areas downtown...but who'd want to live downtown if you can't walk anywhere without getting run over because our downtown roads are getting used as expressways? Losani and DeSantis are always going to stick with whatever is best for them and the onus is on DiAnni for accepting the money, not them for being smart or shrewd businessmen. Do we even have a company in Hamilton that specializes in building apartment buildings? Our existing apartments are turning into dives because the companies that own them don't care (they're offices are usually located in TO) and badly in need of upgrading. Not to mention, they are so inefficient that they're bleeding money into the wild blue yonder. Why is nothing being done about that? I have copied articles about recladding existing buildings to make them look nicer and more energy efficient to Effort Trust but haven't seen anything done about it. I still have single pane windows in my apartment, my heat is controlled by some lacky in TO who thinks it's gotta be 27 in my apartment in the winter... How can we argue when people want to live in their own place? If I had the option, I'd be living in a house as well. Of course, I'm not a fan of the newer developments because I don't like cookie cutter houses and roads designed by drunk urban planners but if my choices are to live in a building with crumbling amenities or live in a house I'd choose the house anyday. There's nothing like spending money that goes directly into someone else's pocket to make you realize that perhaps it's not all it's cracked up to be.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:11:37

Rusty, if you take the assinine comment personally then you must be assuming that people don't want to drive because you don't want to. Read the sentence as a whole. The argument that people shouldn't drive because you don't want to is the assinine thing...not you personally.

I happen to take issue with people who think we can move forward with the infrastructure that we have. Working for the city for a while and having friends who work in the planning department gives me a little insight into the processes. I'm disgusted by many of them. But when the city takes steps to move in the right direction and people disrespect that, it makes me angry. We shouldn't be making negative comments about everything simply because we can.

BTW recently I met one of the guys who works for ITrans, the company who, among other things, does the traffic studies for Smart Centres and mentioned to him that I didn't like Smart Centres. He clammed up pretty quickly... I think I might contact him to find out what's going on down by the QEW on Centennial.

As far as your approach to city planning issues... Have you spoken to the city planners about the RHCE? Have you gotten the drawings for the expressway? Have you taken a look down the expressway? Until you do, it's hard to make an argument. I used to be against the RHCE because of the same issues your raising. I emailed the lead engineer and got the drawings, did extensive research on the project, toured the expressway and changed my mind.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:19:18

Ok, time for me to get to work to...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:22:06

If they'd taken a fraction of the money spent on RHCE and rolled it into transit, it would be a much more efficient decongestant.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:30:00

Yes, yes, I got to work too...:)

One, or two quick points...

I may not have articulated my driving point properly (this is a blog after all - spelling mistakes and everything...) What I was saying is that I am a taxpayer who likes, and wants, to travel by foot, bike and streetcar (clean, efficienct, above ground transit). But yet so much of my tax dollars are spent to benefit folks who want to drive. And so much city planning is done in a way that makes it essential to drive. In effect it is harder and harder for folks like me to have a good quality of life in any city, because of the way it's being built.

I'm not making decisions for other folks who may like to drive, I'm just saying that transit investments should reflect the desires of all tax payers and should take into account the environmental and social costs too.

As for RHCX well, yes, I'm not as close to this as you but my opposition is not just on principal as you suggest (I think that's what you are suggesting). And I'm not just complaining because I can. I DO think there is such a thing as a 'good road'. But the fact is, wrt RHCX, there are other brownfield sites available for industrial park development (Burlington has lots of open land along it, as does the QEW) and there have been many other solutions proposed for easing Centennial congestion.

As for your wish to cross Centennial safely in the near future - good luck! Experience shows that more roads = more cars so, while you may have a couple of years of happy crossings I doubt it will last long.

Talk more soon...!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:30:38

Frank, you bring up some great points about the downtown, and everyone on this site is a proponent for intensification downtown. But we have to start by making the area a comfortable place for people, not cars. The answer to that is not necessarily to build more expressways around the city -- we need to start by changing the scale of the roads within the core. Change back to two way streets and make the true core an uncomfortable place to drive THROUGH. Easy access is one thing, but blowing an expressway (i.e. main street) right through town is truly asinine.

As long as our city streets look and feel like expressways they will be treated as such, no matter how many highways we build around the perimeter.

Your frustrations seem to match mine, but I think that you are aiming your defense at the wrong project. We need to be defending things such as improving pedestrian and cyclist experiences (especially downtown) and slowing down traffic in the core so that it is no longer a thoroughfare.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:47:20

Sean and Rusty. I'm not defending needless driving nor am I a proponent of driving when walking isn't necessary. More roads don't necessarily generate more traffic. Traffic studies and my plain old driving on that stupid Highway 20 show that the vast majority of the trips going up and down Centennial are from people who aren't living or doing any business downtown in the Creek or anywhere near it, merely trying to get from the QEW to the Mountain in the quickest way possible...not to mention the trucks that currently use 20 when they'll now use the expressway.

My argument is that it'd be impossible to make the changes that we want to downtown without making it easy for car dependent individuals (they're always going to be there) to get off of them. What would happen if we didn't....

Imagine for a second there's no way for traffic to go around the downtown core on the east side...

We change all downtown streets to two way, improve ways directly around the core (Cannon and Main) and what've we done? Pushed the traffic into another area that's not meant to handle it. We now have an expressway that is made to handle it...close some streets, make them two way, the people will now use the expressway to the closest point and then the arterial roads from there. Highway 20 had the traffic load of a highway but was only meant to be an arterial road (moving traffic from a highway to a collector road). Maybe now it'll function as such. Our downtown here in the creek is two way and has an acceptable way around it (Queenston) and I love it. Of course it's not as "intense" as the Core but it has a great sense of community and a couple patios to boot... We'd not be able to have that without the way around it.

The reality of things is that car use is here to stay for a while until oil prices go up enough and the transit system is built properly.

Here's what I'm hoping for...as of right now, I live nice and close to a beautiful beach front area but I can't get to it any way except by car unless I plan on taking my life in my hands to bike or walk the way there down Centennial. I'm hoping that as traffic goes down and a better cross section is built, I'll be able to walk or bike with my visitors down there and walk the trails through the parks there.

There are other areas to the city than the Core. Understandably as I posted somewhere, fix the heart and the rest will follow...but if the heart's not working properly does that mean it's wrong to set a broken leg so that it can heal as well?

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:49:29

I know we are disagreeing, but this is a lot fun... There's nothing like discussion to get things going. One day we should all attend some vital city council meeting together lol! Then I'll feel sorry for the city coucillors.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:02:35

Sorry if I wasn't too clear but I didn't mean to imply you are defending needless driving. I was saying that you were defending the wrong project in terms of your strong defense of the red hill expy.

My main point is that all of this energy spent touting the benefits of red hill is wasted. My personal opinion is that there could have been some much better ways to spend money BEFORE resorting to building a new overpriced highway:

-Improve pedestrian/cycling services -Improve rapid transit on the mountain -Bring rail back to the core -expand GO through the tunnel and beyond into east hamilton -improve all transit options throughout the entire city

THESE are the projects you should be spending your energy defending (or promoting). You are correct in saying that car use is here to stay until oil prices go up enough and the transit system is built properly.

So why are we waiting? Why are we wasting our time investing in an infrastructure that is ultimately doomed? Why didn't we START by giving people lots of options OTHER than their car? Options that are much cheaper than building highways? Why did we choose the most expensive "experiment" in reducing congestion? And one that has proven time and time again to NOT WORK. Have you been to Brampton? They have build highways up the wazoo and it's the most horrific place to drive in the entire country. None of this is a surprise to anyone. If it was 1950, I could see an argument for the expressway, but all of this got underway fairly recently, and it is a colossal waste of money.

We need to be giving people options and getting them out of their cars, not building to accommodate them "for now"... When will "for now" ever end? The sooner the better in my opinion...

If we keep following this path we will end up paving over all of our land and buildings and creating a desolate wasteland that will be 100% useless within our lifetimes...

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:23:17

yes...the red hill valley is much nicer now. that creek was rubbish and the old trees needed to be replaced. thank the good lord we've paved it over. so much cleaner and tidier now. next in line, algonquin! ugly trees and creeks everywhere!! it could be so much better if they only used the hamilton model. good points, frank.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:27:58

The 'for now' ends when the expressway has reached capacity which will most likely be relatively quickly. By capacity I mean moving but more would make traffic jams. Also, I do defend transit and more pedestrian or cyclist projects.

The problem is that the Province kicked in money for this and they are much more hesitant to do so when it comes to transit...unless of course you live in Toronto which has disproportionate representation in provincial parliament compared to Hamilton (but that's another issue) I've been to Brampton and I try to stay away... But Brampton was designed completely differently as well. They don't have options like we do.

Oh and my defense of the Expressway extends to this: if less traffic is on Hwy 20, more people will walk and bike it. It's the only access to the Waterfront that we have and I can never use it unless I want to jeopardize my own safety. Transit doesn't even service the area adequately! Not to mention that it's function is an arterial road, not a highway. (If you have any questions about the road classifications, I'll pull out my Highway design manual and put them here.)

The province is just now waking up and talking about potentially possibly maybe funding an LRT system like the Mayor is proposing... I can't wait til that's built.

Traffic is almost like a living organism. If you block it somewhere it goes somewhere else. It rarely diminishes...at least for now. So we've given it a place to go for the next 20 to 30 years until our transit infrustructure is built and the traffic level has died down. Even then, comparing the RHCE to the 400 or 410 is not even fair. You'll see once you drive it. It's actually very well done.

The LRT system will most likely take something like 5 years to build, the transit system we have needs to be completely revamped, we are still, for some reason, putting in road cross sections that don't include boulevards, sidewalks and bikeways... It's true, the mentality needs to change but it won't...not for the foreseeable future.

Thank goodness the Peninsula highway thingy didn't get approved yet. Now THAT would be a waste. We now have the places to push traffic when we start to change the core... Building a highway like that would've been reminiscent of building the 400 and 410...

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:37:05

Ha ha, Peter...very funny. Ever been to Algonquin? I've been camping there for about 20 years now... Not even anywhere close to a comparison.

A stinky polluted fishless creek in an area where people didn't like to visit (because of the stinky creek), sewage being dumped into the lake, traffic congestion adding to our smog problems, all being address here. Algonquin has no congestion, it's a provincial park in the middle of nowhere. The town around it are smaller than Flamborough.... Give me a break!

And... all your precious trees will be back...in fact there will be more of them for you to hug! And you can go fishing after your hugging excursion! Previously, you could've hugged a tree, taken a swim in a smelly creek and grown another arm, then jog home coughing as you breathe the exhaust fumes... Perhaps you would much rather that? How many times did you walk through the Red Hill Valley before the project started? It's still there! Take a look! It smells better, looks better and is much cleaner!

You can drink the water in the creeks and lakes in Algonquin.... I challenge you to drink Lake Ontario water...let alone the water that was in the Creek previously.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:49:37

Frank wrote, "The problem is that the Province kicked in money for this and they are much more hesitant to do so when it comes to transit"

The province just offered to kick in $300 million to build two light rail lines, and the city's plan is to go with buses - sorry, "Bus Rapid Transit", which means buses with fancy bus shelters.

The province is happy to help Hamilton with its transportation infrastructure, but they're taking their cues from us. So far, we want all the wrong things.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:55:43

Ryan, have the plans for a BRT system been finalized? Didnt Eisenberger say that he wanted to have an LRT system? Why are we not voting on something like that?

How can council do something we don't want?

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 11:59:26

I predict that the Red Hill will be a big clusterfuck 10 years from now and Centennial will be even worse than today. People will take Centennial in attempt to bypass traffic jams on the Red Hill. It will be used primarily to serve low density housing to carry commuters out of the city to jobs between here and Toronto. It will also connect the new box development at QEW and Centennial with all the low density housing and box centres on the east mountain quite efficiently. With so many 'amenities' along this corridor, the east will develop further as its own entity and its residents will be less inclined to venture downtown.

The Red Hill was made 'necessary' through decades of poor planning, and it will serve to propagate more of the same.

I don't disagree with Frank's argument that an alternative throughfare to the Main-King expressway is needed, but I fail to see how the Red Hill Expressway addresses any traffic issues relevant to the city centre. It is faster to use the Linc and Upper James to travel downtown, then it is to go through the lower city. We do have to provide road service on par with surrounding communities in order to attract business, but this can't come at the expense of even half decent public transit access. The Red Hill might open up land attractive to new business, but this area is still a 2 hour bus ride away for many people. Granted that many people will always prefer to drive, we at least want an alternative for those who can't or prefer not to, and in the near future, driving will be less feasible for many more people.

In summary, I believe the effect of the Red Hill will be the funneling of workers out of Hamilton to industries elsewhere, and the growth of parasitic retail chains that present a net loss to our economy.

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 12:09:34

I should add, alot of people who are daily drivers, and because of their living and working situations, have no viable alternatives, are strong supporters of such alternatives. They are unable to support public transit currently because there are simply not enough hours in the day or it doesn't take them where they need to go. During the recent car free week hung a sign from the 403 overpass to advertise Car Free Day, and I was surprised at all the friendly honks we got from people in cars, stuck in traffic. I even hear it from people I work with, where absolutely everyone commutes from other cities and arrives by personal vehicle. Many people would love to get along without cars but they have no choice. Our poor planning and bias towards roads over public transit is the reason so many people have no choice.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 12:44:34

Hi Frank,

The city's Higher Order Transit Study, which is part of the Transportation Master Plan, dismisses light rail as something to consider in the long term and recommends BRT in the meantime, mainly because it doesn't cost much.

The problem is that the HSR is an office of the Public Works department, and Public Works is philosophically committed to road capacity. Until either PW experiences a conceptual shift or the HSR is pulled out of the bureaucracy and set up as an independent authority, they're going to be too domesticated to think outside the PW lane capacity box.

It doesn't help that the Planning and Economic Development department is committed to economic growth through greenfield development around the airport (read: warehousing and logistics) and isn't even thinking about transit oriented development.

Right now we're forming a new organization to make a strong case for light rail and try to change the mindset at PW and EcDev, as well as the councillors, who are absolutely not thinking about it at all (with the exception of McHattie and maybe Bratina).

The Mayor already agrees that this is the right way to go, but he's only one vote on council, and the departments that really run the city (PW and EcDev) pretty much do what they want regardless of the direction they get from council:

  • Earlier this summer, EcDev manager Tim McCabe refused even to study a ban on drive-thrus when council asked him to:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/690/

  • We're still waiting for the staff reports on peak oil that council asked for in April 2006:

http://hamiltoncatch.org/view_article.ph...

Bottom line: light rail is a real possibility, but we've got an uphill battle to convince EcDev and PW that it's in their interest to support it.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 12:45:13

There's no low density housing on Lower Centennial which is where the issue is... The big box crap will be as accessible to commuters from the RHCE as from Centennial. Even currently the stretch from Mud to Rymal is basically deserted.

Centennial right now carries far to many trips from the QEW to Ancaster... Those, along with truck traffic need to be eliminated. I don't share Jon's pessimism because with the right steps, the Centennial corridor can be made much nicer. It's up to us to choose a gov't that makes those choices and to come out loud and clear when they don't. Also, Jon, I'd expect that everyone who honks also would complain about personal freedom being taken away if they had to use public transportation. Of course, if the options are, sit in traffic or honk at a car free sign...it's something to do. And when anyones stuck in traffic of course they'll want to be anywhere else. It's just that if they were made to do so, they wouldn't appreciate it.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 12:47:27

Ryan, Can I be part of this committee to push for light rail??

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 12:51:24

Absolutely, Frank! It's open to anyone who wants to participate. I'll be posting the details for the next meeting today or tomorrow.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 13:07:13

Sweet... not a Wed, Thurs or Sat night I hope. Last I heard about an LRT meeting was when I asked Leach about the LRT shirt he was wearing.

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By trey (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 13:08:16

nice thread going here.

I don't think the highway was a good investment at all. Half a billion bucks could've been better spent. But it was built. So I also don't want to see it fail. It's purpose (how it was sold to Hamilton) was to bring jobs to Hamilton. Instead it is making the houses easier to sell for the land speculators. That's it. So it is a failure, even 10,000 homes won't be enough tax base to pay for the highway maintenance and capital debt costs. I wish the anti-expressway people would stop wishing it failure, just out of bitterness. I think it was a bad decision, but we could try to make the best out of it. Unfortunately that opportunity has passed with the zoning of all the land to residential sprawl.

Re: Maple Leaf Rusty pointed out the other important white collar industries. Let me point out that I work in business services (advertising) and many of our clients are manufacturers and food service, with the odd law firm and insurance company. Guess who the downtown lawyers, ad agencies, package designers, printers, financial and insurance services would be doing work for? Maple Leaf.

It takes more than just service industries to make a balanced healthy economy. Hamilton needed Maple Leaf, they have a plant in the east end now, and Oliveri Foods office. Maple Leaf is one of Canada's biggest companies, they pay well, support local and Canadian agriculture and other Canadian suppliers. Heck they may have even took office space downtown if they had a plant on the mountain or paid for naming rights on Copps Coliseum or helped out Opera Hamilton.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 13:17:15

"I wish the anti-expressway people would stop wishing it failure, just out of bitterness."

I don't wish it to fail. I do expect it to fail, which is why I opposed its construction. I also expect Hamilton to continue chasing its losses and trying to find ways to make it a success (witness Councillor Sam Merulla gushing that Red Hill is responsible for the big box redevelopment of Centre Mall), which will only delay the inevitable point at which we admit we squandered half a billion dollars on an economic dead end.

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 13:26:52

Frank: I don't think anyone here is suggesting to take the freedom away from people to drive on roads or force people onto public transit, but rather to shift the massive spending away from more road capacity and towards better options. Then the transit option becomes more attractive. It's always hard to reduce capacity once people get used to it - for example, going back to 2 way streets. If that was done at the same time as the rapid transit line, it may be interpreted as forcing people out of their cars, when it's more like correcting a decades old imbalance that makes our bus system inefficient for the many people who do use it. If however we keep the capacity of a road the same while making transit better along the same route, the only complaint will be that we should have spent it on roads instead. Considering Hamilton has more roads and less congestion than just about anywhere else, that would be a difficult argument to make. This isn't about imposing our will on anyone else. It is about a large group of citizens wanting better public transit and safer streets.

I agree with you on improving Centennial for walking and biking and that they could not do this because of its status a main artery, which will be relieved with the opening of the Red Hill. Hopefully the city takes this opportunity to reduce it to one lane and add bike lanes and wider sidewalks. The traffic isn't the only impediment to walkability though, it's also the atrocious crudscape that lines both sides of it from Queenston through to the QE. Phase 2 of its redevelopment should involve taking a wrecking ball to every single building on the street, then lining it with trees and mixed use buildings with parking in the back. Then you could have a decent ride to the waterfront.

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 13:36:39

Light Rail Coalition!! Post the information now, please!!


I would love it if the Red Hill brought more jobs - especially if the north/south and mountain east/west rapid transit lines open it up for transit users like the expressway did for cars. However, I stand by my predictions.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 13:49:00

Couple of points I want to counter:

  1. Trey - I have a white collar job too (IT Consulting) and the industries in Hamilton didn't have ANY work for me! When I first moved to Hamilton my local office (Ernst & Young) closed down after 6 months because they had so little business here. I tried for 6 years to find work but nothing. I had to commute to TO along with 55,000 other mainly white collar Hamiltonians who can't find work nearer to home. So...yes, Hamilton does need to make more effort to attract these growth industries.

  2. Frank - I agree with your comments about the creek being stinky before the road was built. But couldn't we have cleaned it up WITHOUT ploughing a road through it? Imagine that!

Cheers

Ben

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:27:16

Rusty... possibly. Except that erosion was a huge consideration from top to bottom. The creek itself had way to much sediment in it. With the RHC redesign it now minimizes erosion, provides a fish habitat and just plain looks nicer. Also, all that work would've ruined Peter's precious trees. Now we have a road, and whether you agree with it's construction or not, it will definately ease congestion on 20. As far as the wrecking ball along highway 20... I'd love it. There's an old "gentlemens'" club that could use some demolition and some major improvements including boulevards, vegetated islands and nicer buildings. Other than that club there are only a few buildings that are close to road that are completely ugly. The mall will crabby's in it could use some landscaping in and better entrances. and how the heck does that fast eddies stay in business??? The garages and such on the east side by queenston could also use a facelift. There are two unused lots that I can think of... why aren't they being developed into some nice apartments?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:30:12

I was just flipping through an old copy of Toronto Life. They had a feature on Toronto's up and coming neighbourhoods. It included an inventory of the various amenities for each neighbourhood, one of which was transportation. I was fascinated to see that in every case, the list of transportation options was limited to buses, streetcars, subway, GO trains, and walking. Cars, traffic, roads, and parking simply did not enter into the equation in Toronto's most desirable neighbourhoods. One of the main reasons Toronto survived as such a livable city when so many other North American cities were being hollowed out, was due to the halting of the Spadina Expressway in the '70's. Not coincidentally, one of the main reasons Toronto has squandered it's waterfront is because of the presence of the Gardiner. Frank, you are obviously very knowledgeable on the subject. I would be very interested to know if you are aware of any examples where the construction of an expressway actually served to revitalize a city. Certainly the opposite is true in TO.

An expressway receiving an environmental award is a bit like George Tenet receiving the Medal of Freedom. There is no doubt that the City of Hamilton has done a great job mitigating the environmental catastrophe that is the Red Hill Expressway, but they should share their award with the expressway opponents whose relentless activism obliged the city to put a green happy face on this debacle.

Frank, you said "what kind of fight did you put up for the housing complex being built right downtown southwest of Main and James? There's a nice empty lot where a medium sized footprint for a new apartment building could be built and the city approved a row house development! So much for intensification!" I am not familiar with this particular development, but row houses, low rise apartments, and apartments above commercial are all good examples of intensification. It doesn't have to be limited to high-rise apartments. Good intensification is sensitive to the scale of the existing neighbourhood.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:36:34

Couple of points I want to counter:

  1. Trey - I have a white collar job too (IT Consulting) and the industries in Hamilton didn't have ANY work for me! When I first moved to Hamilton my local office (Ernst & Young) closed down after 6 months because they had so little business here. I tried for 6 years to find work but nothing. I had to commute to TO along with 55,000 other mainly white collar Hamiltonians who can't find work nearer to home. So...yes, Hamilton does need to make more effort to attract these growth industries.

  2. Frank - I agree with your comments about the creek being stinky before the road was built. But couldn't we have cleaned it up WITHOUT ploughing a road through it? Imagine that!

Cheers

Ben

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:37:40

Frank, re: "I know that highway design doesn't ever include the statement or what you call 'principle' that 'supply creates its own demand' since I've actually studied Highway Design."

Wikipedia has an informative article on induced demand:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_dem...

It's a legitimate phenomenon, even if highway builders ignore it. In Hamilton, road capacity is increasing much faster than population and car registration:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/411/

As Jane Jacobs observed, the inverse is also true: if you reduce lane capacity, people drive less. Traffic demand is not static; it responds dynamically to the availability of various transit modes.

If it's easy to drive (i,e, via abundant lane capacity and "free" parking terminal costs), people will drive. If it's easy to drive long distances quickly (i.e. on a highway), people will commute long distances.

If it isn't, people won't.

Similarly, if it's easy to take transit (i.e. service is fast, frequent, and affordable), people will take transit.

If it isn't, people won't.

It's really that simple.

I was in Boston last week. The city proper is about 40 square miles and has 600,000 people, with very few skyscrapers and some of the most valuable, desirable neighbourhoods in the world.

Hamilton proper, by contrast, is 120 square miles and has only about 400,000 people. Our density is lower for a reason: Boston decided early on that more lane capacity was not the answer, and invested heavily in transit instead; whereas Hamilton is still building new highways today.

As a result, our density is lower, people live farther from the core and drive longer distances, and urban neighbourhoods suffer disinvestment.

I walked all around Boston, and their housing stock is not much nicer than ours: the most desirable areas are mainly three- and four-storey rowhouses and Paris-style mixed-use streetwalls (the downtown financial district is taller).

What's nicer is that the buildings are all occupied and in good repair, with plenty of street trees, full sidewalks, and excellent transit connections across the city.

It's no coincidence that driving in Boston is a nightmare. After I-93 clove the city in half and cut the North End off from downtown, its citizens revolted against plans to build more beltways through neighbourhoods (in much the same way that residents in Toronto's Annex revolted against the planned Allen Expressway), and that city's dalliance with mid-century "Renewal" ground to an early halt.

The subway network has daily ridership of 500,000 - quite an accomplishment in a city of 600,000 (though many riders commute in from the larger metro area).

Again by contrast, Hamilton, with a similar population but a minimal transit infrastructure, has daily ridership of around 28,000.

Can you not see the causal connection between how we build our transportation infrastructure and what transportation choices we make? Highway demand is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:44:48

Sorry about the double post...

Great points highwater. I always find it interesting when I'm watching those House buying shows (my wife makes me watch them...)

You always get the folks on that English show standing in the front room or the garden listening to the traffic noises outside and frowning. We all seem to want roads (well, most of the 'we' being non-RTH readers anyway) and yet non of us want to live next to them. Train stations and subways however are huge draws!

So my question is - who really wants roads?!

  1. Folks who have to have them because there's no other way of getting around and
  2. Certain businesses who have to have them because there's no other way to truck their goods and supplies around.

Apart from these drivers Frank says 'like' to drive, it seems to me that most of us really don't want roads!

As for TO yes, I agree. Apparently the town was supposed to go into a massive decline after the Spadina expressway was blocked but curiously that hasn't happened. We have to get away from this more roads = less congestion = more growth mindset.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:58:31

Hey Ryan, a quick search of cost of living reveals why Boston is so great...

www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/09/08/report_rates_boston_most_expensive_city/

That's an article from 2005. Articles from 2007 still make Boston the highest cost for living in the States. I don't want to have to be making over 85 grand in order to meet basic needs!

I didn't argue that the phenomenon wasn't there... But right now it's already there...and it's in the wrong place. It now goes to where it should be. I'm not advocating leaving Centennial as it is now either. We need to change the the cross section as well, decrease the lane widths and limit Highway 20 to be used as for local access and minimal arterial traffic(to Stoney Creek businesses) plant trees, improve the area in general and make it more attractive to pedestrians. This would make it a less attractive mode of access to the escarpment except from King St.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 14:58:38

Sorry about the double post...

Great points highwater. I always find it interesting when I'm watching those House buying shows (my wife makes me watch them...)

You always get the folks on that English show standing in the front room or the garden listening to the traffic noises outside and frowning. We all seem to want roads (well, most of the 'we' being non-RTH readers anyway) and yet non of us want to live next to them. Train stations and subways however are huge draws!

So my question is - who really wants roads?!

  1. Folks who have to have them because there's no other way of getting around and
  2. Certain businesses who have to have them because there's no other way to truck their goods and supplies around.

Apart from these drivers Frank says 'like' to drive, it seems to me that most of us really don't want roads!

As for TO yes, I agree. Apparently the town was supposed to go into a massive decline after the Spadina expressway was blocked but curiously that hasn't happened. We have to get away from this more roads = less congestion = more growth mindset.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 15:05:26

Highwater, Toronto already has major highways ringing the city.... something we now have. Building a highway alone will never improve a city. It's what's done after that makes the difference. Right now we have Burlington Street, QEW, Linc, 403 and Highway 20 (soon the RHCE) as our ring roads. Each of these has significant access to the surrounding areas allowing traffic to access from them. After this, it's up to the city to change the roads downtown to two way, limiting the traffic flow on highway 20 and all other major roads other than arterials by using smaller lanewidths, improving transit and pedestrian/cyclist access... all that stuff. Improving the core can't happen at the expense of the other areas of the city. In fact, I don't think it'd be possible without doing it all at once.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2007 at 15:34:00

"Hey Ryan, a quick search of cost of living reveals why Boston is so great..."

Again, you've got the flow of causality exactly backwards. Boston is expensive precisely because it's such a great city to live in. Go there and walk around Beacon Hill, arguably the most expensive neighbourhood in the US. It's all tall, narrow, mid-19th century rowhouses and four storey apartments on narrow, tree-lined streets with no setbacks.

There's a reason you can buy a 3,000 square foot McMansion in the middle of nowhere for a couple hundred thousand dollars: you get what you pay for in civic amenities.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 15:56:38

McMansion? Does if have the golden arches over the driveway? haha! Anyway, to address your comment... even if that was the case many businesses and younger people can no longer afford to buy or live in Boston and as such have to move elsewhere. I don't want that to happen here - where only the elite and those making six figure incomes can afford to live anywhere near the core. It makes no difference to me how great a city looks, if it's outrageously expensive to live there, I don't want my Hamilton to turn into Boston. We're a city where our average incomes are 3 to 4 thousand dollars less than the provincial average. We can do much better than we are right now, but we should probably use a comparable city. As it stands, the average incomes in Boston are 76,814 and 55306 for males and females respectively. In Hamilton, we're at 49267 and 34701 for males and females. The demographic map for Boston shows that those making close to the average salaries live 10-20 miles from the city centre. (unless I don't know how to read it since I've never seen anything like it before). From my perspective I want the city to be the best, but not to the point where it costs incredibly large amounts of money to live downtown.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 16:18:15

don't worry, frank, as long as we continue to build highways and bulldoze nature we'll be nothing like boston. here's to an backward and undesireable hamilton!! my hamiltion. i'm a little perplexed as to how you come to grips with loving red hill and also supporting lrt. sounds a little schitzophrenic to me, frank.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 19, 2007 at 17:07:17

Toronto's ring roads are not what makes it a great place to live. My point for citing the Toronto Life article is that one of the things making Toronto's up and coming neighbourhoods so desirable is that they are well serviced by transit. Highway access, efficient traffic flow, and plentiful parking are not even on the radar. Historically, expressways are a blight and I've yet to see any convincing evidence to the contrary.

And even if they had been beneficial in the past, pursuing them in the age of peak oil and climate change just seems suicidal to me. I am in complete agreement with Jon Dalton's prediction. If there is a silver lining to the Red Hill debacle(sorry, not up on the acronymn du jour), it's that it will be next to impossible to summon up the political will, let alone the money, to repeat this mistake.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2007 at 14:34:57

Yup... the areas in Toronto that are anywhere near highways (and especially near the junction of two major highways) are the ugliest and least comfortable areas to live, followed closely by the areas that are serviced by highway instead of transit (i.e. markham etc). The best places to live are the ones that have narrow, people friendly streets with difficult-to-find parking and -- most importantly -- easy transit access instead of highway access(i.e. little italy).

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2007 at 12:48:38

"I like to travel by foot, bike and streetcar, why has so much of my money been spent over the years to build roads when I DON'T WANT TO DRIVE?! Why is so much of the infrastructure on which I depend build around road networks? "

Well its quite simple.
Elected officials elected by the Majority for the Majority of the people required an expressway to by pass idling, traffic congested and poluting downtown.

Your statement sounds a bit childish.I would like it if the expressway was not built in a perfect world but the growth is not slowing and preventing an artery from relieving that congestive growth is not going to happen.

The best thing is to minimize impact to the local environment( which it has).A better use of time and efforst is to relclaim brownfields and regenerate them in greening measures.

It has neen said the best deal has been reached when both sides leave the table wanting.I think the RHCE did just that.

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2007 at 13:06:01

"If they'd taken a fraction of the money spent on RHCE and rolled it into transit, it would be a much more efficient decongestant."

I doubt it. The majority of Traffic at peak time ( idling stuck going nowhere using fuel and choking the city)are cars pouring back and forth thru the city,.. are going somewhere to work to get on the 403 ( outside of Hamilton to Toronto or KW )or towards the Niagara peninsula (to the QEW.)

Although more transit is good for local users,it does not solve the fact that a huge amount of business and industry is outside HAmilton .Commuters who need cars to get there is a regional issue for the Ontario Government and the GTA and Hamilton..not Hamilton specifically.I see a lot of Transit in Hamilton.What I dont see is a lot of ways to get cars in and out of Hamilton efficiently and without harming the environment with useless idling on King/Main.

PReventing the RHCE to prevent growth in the GTA is like pushing a rope.Better to manage growth while repecting the environment than to wish for a panacea.

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2007 at 13:28:55

"In summary, I believe the effect of the Red Hill will be the funneling of workers out of Hamilton to industries elsewhere, and the growth of parasitic retail chains that present a net loss to our economy. "

Jon, again a false premise to start with.I do think you hit it on the head with"industries elsewhere"though.

An expressway does not make people leave Hamilton to industries elsewhere, it makes it easier for people to get to industries elsewhere for work where none are local...in an "express-way".People were working in industries "elsewhere" for decades.ITs how efficiently they get there while using the least amount of time and resources.

You make it sound like businesses from all over the world are not potentialy moving to Hamilton proper, but waiting in the wings until an obscure expressway is built on the other side of the planet to funnel them away.Businesses go where it make business sense.

People go to where it is economically viable to work and live.Not all people work withing walking distance to where they live( in some cases it would be downright dangerous to do so).When Stelco and Dofasco were in the heyday, I am sure a small proportion of people took transit or drove locally to get to work.Now people work where.. there is work.Outside the City.

The Expressway was a good idea.Not building it is not going to magically force a company to relocate in Hamilton to employ those who need a good job.

Dont blame the expressway

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2007 at 14:25:22

Holy crap, 'assinine' and 'childish' in the same discussion...

Genghis,

You sound like you've already made up your mind on this(an unfortunate trait. Believe it or not my mind is still open on this matter - however I have yet to be convinced). Regardless, I'll counter some of your points:

"The expressway was a good idea. Not building it is not going to magically force a company to relocate in Hamilton"

First of all this comment appears to condescend the anti-expressway points of view made on this page. Nobody is expecting any 'magic' here. What has been articulated very clearly is the idea that the solution to congestion is not necessarily more roads (an idea you appear resistent to consider).

Jon's point was simply stating that because we now have a new road network we will now get more car-dependant housing and industry because of it. It will facilitate 'more of the same' type growth and will leave us with the same car congestion problem later down the road. Without the road this kind of growth would have been stifled and viable alternatives would have had to 'magically' appear (if it's magic then I guess towns like Portland and Boston and Toronto must be Never-never land...).

You talk a lot about job creation. But don't you think employers want to live and invest in a town which is a more pleasant place to live? Why all this focus on road networks? I have read several studies which have shown that our growth industries - i.e. industries that Hamilton should be focusing on - want competitive taxes and a qualified workforce ahead of better communication networks.
And what of your comments about the source of all the highway 20 traffic? Do you really think some of Hamilton's commuters could not be able to find jobs nearer to home (ie in transit commuting distance) if Hamilton did more to attract a diverse range of employers?

I think the sticking point in this debate centers around linear thinkers who think that traffic problems caused by A and B requires solution C. You need to think differently and a little deeper about how jobs are created and how sustainable modes of transport are built to create a better living environment.

If nothing else, consider this: do you think it is possible for a person to live somewhere where they can have a variety of employment options within a reasonable transit commute from their home? This is the town we want Hamilton to be. If you don't think this is possible then we'll never be on the same page.

Ben

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2007 at 15:50:48

Hi Rusty;

There is no focus on purely road networks for me, but nor can the banning of expressways which happen to pass through a ravine to socially reverse engineer a city/economy work either.People are going to build a house or home where then can afford it.An expressway will enable them to get from A to B with least amount of environmental impact.People do not buy cars based on roads made or not made but how they can be employed with the least amount of costs v income.

I agree IF the comapnies move here because the City makes it business freindly and liveable, that would be ideal...

The FACT is they are not at this moment but going elsewhere.That is a separate issue than the one at hand.Unless there is a guarantee of employers coming and which can measurable impact the need for said RHCE, which there is not..I can gurarantee that growth will continue and traffic and pollution will far exceed the impact of the expressway



"Jon's point was simply stating that because we now have a new road network we will now get more car-dependant housing and industry because of it. It will facilitate 'more of the same' type growth and will leave us with the same car congestion problem later down the road. Without the road this kind of growth would have been stifled and viable alternatives would have had to 'magically' appear (if it's magic then I guess towns like Portland and Boston and Toronto must be Never-never land...). "

If you are using these 3 cities as examples, perhaps better not to.If you notice the traffic is starting to flow out of Toronto outskirts to the suburbs now alsong with the companies... on these same expressways)

All I am saying is what we have is a fact..congestion,pollution,wasted resources, productivity from the worst of all things ..Car Traffic Jams.Needless needless waste.

What we have is a solution to move that problem and reduce its impact from sitting burning fuels going nowhere to to get somewhere needed.

In order to create the roadless highway is not reality unless we start from scatch or have the govenment socially engineer the citizens and economies of cities. (ie if you live at "A" you must work at this "A" location)


"If nothing else, consider this: do you think it is possible for a person to live somewhere where they can have a variety of employment options within a reasonable transit commute from their home? This is the town we want Hamilton to be. If you don't think this is possible then we'll never be on the same page. "

This is indeed what I "want it to be".But what you want is a Utopia.. not what blocking 1 expressway will deliver simply because it is an expressway.You cant force people to live and work in the City even the the jobs are there.

What disheartens me is the all or nothing view of Environmentalists gone wild.. much like Capitalists gone wild.If it involves a car or road it must be evil.I am talking about practicality and reality.

The RHCE was the right decision INHO.It was also right that Environmentalsists held developers feet to the fire to act responsibly..in the end both were not happy to some degree. An example that it worked.

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2007 at 16:15:49

jeez I need a spell checker...

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2007 at 18:07:54

Not sure what's going on with these double posts...? Mr Editor...?!

Anyway, Genghis, You make some great points.

But the discussion so far still leaves me curious about your thinking on a few areas:

  1. Why do we need to treat Highway 20 congestion with such a huge road? As you know several other ideas were bandied around for easing the centennial congestion, most of which involved creating slightly improved road networks and other less expensive and damaging traffic management ideas (I confess, I can't remember them all but there were a number of more moderate congestion treatments on the table). What we have done with the RHCX, by, in effect, building a road that goes way beyond easing the current congestion, is encouraging more car dependant growth. The Industrial growth argument doesn't wash with me - there are many other ways to create jobs - so in the end it's about 1. easing the current congestion and 2. creating the infrastructure for more car dependant housing and lifestyles.

If we wanted to just ease the congestion we would have built a much smaller road, or gone with some alternative traffic management suggestions.

The crux of my 'anti-road' argument is that we have built a road which is going to create more car dependant spawl and this is EXACTLY the sort of thing that needs to be discouraged (I think we can agree on that...?).

I'm not anti-road at all costs (although I am able to imagine a world with less cars, something I think many of us find difficult to do). I just think that this road has too many costs and not nearly enough benefits.

I'm not averse to easing centennial congestion either. I just think the congestion measures should be more moderate and try to encourage alternative modes of transport for those who realistically have that option. By building this massive new road we've lost an opportunity to change certain behaviours.

  1. I understand your 'utopia' comments. I am not fixated on any environmental agenda (although I probably should be). On that subject you really would be wise to avoid labelling anyone in this discussion - I haven't been converted to any ideological way of thinking (yet, not that I'm aware of anyway...) and I still drive way more than I probably have to... I'm being open-minded on this. But you seem to be taking the same tone as a political friend of mine, a bloke who actually helped draft the Places To Grow legislation. My friend told me, in response to my complaints that the act 'didn't go far enough', that the initiative - and indeed politics in general - was all about 'dealing with realities'.

I understand this, but the reality is that all the initiatives we take in building a city have to encourage the kind of growth and behaviour that will make it a better place to live. Our decisions have to take into account the 'realities' of the costs of our living styles today and how they will be affected in the future. Sprawl is costly!! The RHCX - whatever else it does for the short-term - encourages more cars and a style of living which is unhealthy.

I'm not after instant utopia. No-one is saying it's easy to create sustainable communities, and no-one is expecting to click their fingers and hope that this will suddenly be so, but we do, at some point, have to start making the sometimes difficult choices which will set us down that path. Congestion is a fact of life for now and for the future. Whatever we do to ease it now we simply succeed in encouraging more congestion in the future at a greater cost.

  1. 'You can't work where you live' (I'm paraphrasing) - Jane Jacobs alluded to the unreality of working where you live in one of her books, and I understand this argument. I agree, it's not that simple. But why is it unrealistic to try and increase the probability that workers can live within transit distance from their jobs? Just because it's not always practical for some doesn't mean we all have to drive.

Look at Hamilton's GO service for example. Do you think if the train journey time were cut in half so many folks would drive to TO? Why do we not put some of our energies into that? For all the $ and effort we spend on the RHCX to treat an admittedly significant congestion problem, we are ignoring the plight of 55,000 commuters a day. Isn't that significant too? Believe me I have felt the cost of that commute first hand and our inaction on that matter is the reason I had to move back to TO. If we are arguing that growing the economy of growth industries in Hamilton is a medium/long-term goal then why can't we improve the transit options for our current lot of long-distance commuters in the meantime?

There are many twists and turns to this argument but, to me, it all comes back to the same central theme - we are treating congestion with more roads. At some point this has to stop.

Cheers

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 22, 2007 at 08:29:24

Aaaaah lots of reading after a weekend :) Rusty, the RHCE isn't that big. It's 2 lanes each direction, the same as Centennial save for the viaduct which is 3. The reason it might look big is because it's a highway, therefore it has wider lanes than 20. Also, the interchanges at main roads make it look big and of course the ROW is wider than on a regular road.

As far as building the road or not building it... I do believe it was necessary for many of the points I've already posted but I don't think it's THE solution. I forget who it was who said I was being schizophrenic by supporting the RHCE and LRT but I'm not. I believe that a broadbased attack at transportation and transit issues must go hand in hand in order for it to be successful.

For a short time, car usage will increase. After that it will most likely level off and hopefully decrease. I don't believe that building the RHCE increases car use especially since nothing around it has really changed. I believe that if, in the future, monies get spend on things like adding bike lanes (relatively inexpensive) improving road cross sections to have boulevards and sidewalks with trees and other greenery and even something as simple as making the driving lanes narrower will both slow down traffic and cause other modes of transportation to be more viable.

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2007 at 10:28:56

"Jon, again a false premise to start with.I do think you hit it on the head with"industries elsewhere"though.

An expressway does not make people leave Hamilton to industries elsewhere, it makes it easier for people to get to industries elsewhere for work where none are local"

You're right, building the highway makes it easier for people to get to where the work is - after they move into new subdivisions even further away from where the work is, but now serviced by the highway. It does form a better connection from the east mountain to the lakeshore QEW corridor but also establishes the east mountain as a centre of rapid, low density growth. It encourages people to move further away from their jobs. What will the city benefit from tracts of housing with infrastructure cost higher than tax revenue, that function as bedroom communities for workers outside the city? This demographic will pay low property taxes, work at jobs that don't pay taxes to the city, and shop at chains that put 0% of their revenue back into the community, giving back in the form of low taxes and shitty jobs. Again, poor economic returns, no social benefits, that makes for a bad investment.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 22, 2007 at 11:26:40

Frank, (correct me if I'm wrong Rusty) I don't believe Rusty was talking about the number of lanes when he referred to the size of the RHwhatevah, but rather the enormity of it's footprint. For godsakes they blasted a huge gash into the face of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Was that really necessary to 'relieve congestion' on Hwy 20? And in any case that's not exactly how it was sold to us, now was it? We were told that our very economic survival depended on it. If it does not produce enough corporate tax revenue and jobs to offset it's cost, then it will have been an environmental tragedy and a gigantic waste of our limited resources. I have my money on the latter.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2007 at 11:29:46

any of you expressway proponents notice the price of oil these days? it's rapidly approaching $100/barrel. driving, if not already so, will become a great luxury just as it once was. i believe this expressway will prove to be one of the last great financial blunders of the car age. with peak oil road congestion will take care of itself! people won't be able to afford to drive. the red hill expressway was a personal gift from city hall to the construction and home building industry. that's the bottom line here. it was a gift, one that will screw us six ways from sunday.

oh ya, there was reference to this highway serving employment outside the city. anyone care to enlighten me as to what employers they might be referring to? fortinos? wal-mart? i'm confused because i don't see anything up there. take your heads outta the sand and wake up. the world is changing and we're not changing with it. we're stuck in 1950 and it'll be our funeral.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 23, 2007 at 10:50:34

Peter, There's a business park at the top of the RCHE. I'd assume those are the jobs that are supposed to be generated. But I believe that the issue is the number of ppl who live in Hamilton and work in TO and surrounding areas. Also...highwater...the Linc also has a huge footprint that in actual fact should be bigger but had to be made smaller. The size of the footprint is related to the expected speeds on the highway as well as other geographic considerations. It cuts through a mountain and in order for it to be useful to those wonderful 18 wheelers, a maximum grade of 6% is usually used meaning that part of the footprint has to be wider to accomodate proper sideslope grades. The rest of the width issue is mostly related to the realignment of the creek. There's also a bit of space between the two directions meaning it's not 4 lanes separated by a concrete barrier which is just plain ugly. The footprint, aside from the lanes themselves will revegetate as well. As for oil prices, unless we somehow manage to come up with a way to teleport goods to stores and people to and from their workplaces (Woohoo Stargate SG-1!!) as well as instantaneously develop an economically feasible, fully functional transit network, people will continue to drive and inflation will just go up and up until a recession hits...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 24, 2007 at 17:07:17

How many jobs were created in that one business park, Frank? Enough to cover the tens of millions spent on the Expressway, as well as the unknown future health and social costs?

And I certainly hope you are not comparing the the environmental footprint of the Linc with that of the RHCE. The Linc was built on land already within the urban boundary. In addition to the blasting of the Escarpment, this is what the RHCE cuts through according to the FRHV website: "The Red Hill Valley is the centrepiece of 700 hectares of linked publicly-owned parkland in the industrial east end of Hamilton. The 7-kilometre long valley encompasses part of the Niagara Escarpment and provides the only remaining natural corridor between the Escarpment and Lake Ontario. It is also the only large natural area in the east end of Hamilton-Wentworth. Red Hill Creek is the last of 14 streams that once flowed through Hamilton and is the second largest stream flowing into Burlington Bay / Hamilton Harbour." Like so many others, I do not believe it was worth sacrificing something so special for one business park, hwy 20 traffic relief, and shaving 15 minutes off a Toronto commute for Stoney Creek Mountain residents.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 25, 2007 at 09:24:33

Ummm, I don't think that it's only the Stoney Creek Mtn residents. In actual fact, I believe that the majority of trips are made up and down 20 during rush hour by those who live in Hamilton South or Ancaster. The vast majority of traffic around 6p.m. heading south on 20 turns right at Mud and continues onto the Linc. Also...if the Red Hill Creek had been left untouched, that text could read "it's the last of 14 streams and also the most contaminated, putrid conveyance of water in the entire Niagara Peninsula." If your argument is about the creek, then check out the new creek.

When was the last time the FRHV website was updated? the last "update" is from 2005 unless I'm looking in the wrong place. As for shaving time, let me encourage you to travel Highway 20 from the QEW to Mud and the Linc and compare it to a trip on the RHCE. I just hope that the city doesn't drop the ball on a reconstruction of 20.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 25, 2007 at 10:04:57

Are you suggesting the only possible way we could have cleaned up the creek was to blast into the escarpment and ram an expressway through the last natural link between the escarpment and the lake? Sorry, but the Disneycreek we have now is pretty sorry compensation for what we have lost.

I often take Hwy 20 to Mud and the Linc. So what if the expressway's an easier drive? Again, very sorry compensation for the loss of the valley.

Oh, but I didn't know that the expressway would also shave a few minutes off the commute for Ancaster folks as well. Well then. That makes it all ok.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2007 at 12:39:12

Frank wrote:

"As for oil prices, unless we somehow manage to come up with a way to teleport goods to stores and people to and from their workplaces (Woohoo Stargate SG-1!!) as well as instantaneously develop an economically feasible, fully functional transit network, people will continue to drive and inflation will just go up and up until a recession hits..."

See what you did there? You justify investing half a billion dollars in new highway infrastructure because the necessary rail infrasructure to replace highways doesn't exist. In other words, you're begging the question.

If we need rail infrastructure to make it viable, doesn't it make more sense to invest all that money in rail instead of highways?

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 26, 2007 at 09:49:20

quite the conversation here people.

A few quick thoughts from me: - lands on top of Red Hill were supposed to be industrial. So far I see 10,000 homes being built and not one industrial plant. residential sprawl is a financial drain on the economy, not a blessing. - i have a tough time spending half a billion dollars of Hamilton taxmoney just to save 8 minutes on someone's trip to Toronto to spend money there. - even if this so-called business park can be successful (I don't consider slaughterhouses to be a great success for our city) the segment of the population that can actually get a job there is very specific - those with cars. nobody else will be able to land a job at a 'business park' in the outskirts of town.
- zoning is still all screwed up. homes over here. big boxes over there. theoretical jobs over there. all connected by soon-to-be congested roads and highways. nobody can walk, cycle or use transit to navigate this new part of town. then, in 5 years all the residents will be crying foul and blaming the city when they're sitting in massive traffic jams on their precious highways. it's a downward spiral that never ends, and never makes enough money to sustain itself. So what happens? my downtown taxes continue to go up so I can subsidize the folks living out there. the whole thing is a mess.

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