Comment 39952

By jason (registered) | Posted April 18, 2010 at 18:05:14

we need to understand the economic impact that the reduction in car usage and logical reduction of sales will have on our economy.

While I certainly understand the point being made here, I think it becomes a bit nebulous when trying to guess at what may or may not happen in specific economic sectors.
An increase in cycling from say 2% of total trips to 10% of total trips is very unlikely to result in dealerships closing down. As a starting point, we could see some better deals from car dealerships, which I'm sure even the biggest anti-bike person would appreciate. Furthermore, it could easily be noted that if there were less cars on the roads and more room available for bike lanes, less lanes, bigger sidewalks, more street trees and safer urban neighbourhoods that we'd see an increase in home values in neighbourhoods currently plagued with one-way freeways. Terry Cooke highlighted this point during last week's Code Red series when discussing the importance of quality of life as a means of improving previously depressed neighbourhoods such as Hamilton's West Harbour area. We'd also see more businesses on business friendly and people-friendly streets. The increased taxes from increased home/property values and an influx of new businesses would be a huge plus on the economy.
I guess this discussion could go back and forth for some time, but I think the pros need to be weighed against the cons. If car dealerships were to slightly lower prices due to lower sales and perhaps lay off a few employees, is that a bigger loss than all that is to be gained in neighbourhoods that are encouraged to spring back to life?

I realize this is a moot discussion in Hamilton. Our chamber of 'commerce' and political leaders have made it clear that they're completely happy with Walmart flourish on our city's outskirts and kilometer after kilometer of abandoned, depressed buildings and low property values through the central city. The Spec calls it Code Red. The Chamber calls it a flourishing and growing economy.

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