Comment 26129

By Ron McLester (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:22:31

Councillor Whitehead,
Having followed the original Downtown Transportation Master Plan (2001) and the most recent review and it appears that there are a lot of misconceptions about what Council is approving. In 2001 Council approved the two way conversion of King Street between Wellington and Queen and York Boulevard between Bay and Wellington, while Main Street and Cannon Street would be left as one way (with pedestrian improvements).
The review of the 2001 master plan, as required per the Environmental Assessment Act, does not change the recommendations of the previously approved conversions…with the exception of King Street that would be considered futher-to stay as one way-if Rapid Transit Routing is identified along this street.
I cannot comprehend what is so difficult, and would cause so much fuss, about approving the conversion of ONE major street in downtown Hamilton (York Boulevard). Main and Cannon are still recommended to be one way, albeit with pedestrian improvements.
I was previously a resident of Ward 8 and three years ago decided to move to the James Street North neighbourhood to be able to live in a more sustainable manor and walk/cycle/take transit to work. The reasons I chose this neighbourhood was for the vibrancy that began to occur around the time of the two way conversion of James North. Walking this street is the most enjoyable part of my active commute. The conversion of this street resulted in simple lane geometry (making it easy for drivers) and improved pedestrian amentities (wide, treed sidewalks).
Over the past three years I've noticed a significant amount of investment along James Street North and renovations of houses in the neighbourhood. Surprisingly, the value of my home has gone up by 43% in three short years! How is that for improved property value? I highly doubt that these investments and the improvements in property value would have happened and I would not have chosen to live in this area if James Street North was still one way.
I often frequent James Street South as a pedestrian (for shopping and dining) and a driver (when visiting my relatives in Ward 8) and find the conversion to be not as enjoyable. The lane geometry is complicated (through lanes turning into left turn lanes or ending abrubtly). The pedestrian environment is nearly not as nice as the sidewalks are narrow and not buffered from traffic. Please also note, Councillor Whitehead, that traffic is only congested for about an hour during each rush hour. The remainder of the day it moves quite quickly and results in poorer pedestrian conditions due to the lack of sidewalk space and buffering.
With regards to York Boulevard, the Farmers' Market is planned to be renovated to be more street oriented. I currently cross York on my way to work and try to avoid walking down it in its current state. I find the fast one way traffic, lake of pedestrian amenities and the inward relation of the buildings to be uncomfortable. The two way conversion of York and pedestrian improvements would drasticly help this roadway in becoming a more vibrant area of the City of Hamilton, and perhaps a destination for some of your constituents. Two way conversion is not the "magic bullet", but slowing traffic and adding pedestrian/cycling amentities is. Google 'Complete Streets' and see for your self-this may even help you out with the speeding traffic in your ward. There are numerous examples in U.S. cities-many of which are even more car dependant than Hamilton-and it has worked for them.
I urge you to reconsider your position on the Downtown Transportation Master Plan Review - especially given that you would only be approving the two-way conversion of one major street in the City of Hamilton - and help to create a more vibrant, economically stable municipality for all of its residents.
Ron McLester.

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