The City's Nodes and Corridors planning team have published the results of this summer's design charrettes along the B-Line LRT corridor and want your feedback.
By Ryan McGreal
Published September 21, 2011
The city's Nodes and Corridors team wants your feedback on a series of design charrettes it sponsored this summer to envision new development around light rail transit (LRT) stations along the east-west B-Line corridor.
B-Line Corridor (Image Credit: hamilton.ca)
The purpose of the charrettes was to engage community stakeholders in discussing and visualizing opportunities for new private investment and development along the B-Line corridor and particularly around the proposed LRT stations.
When the Province introduced its Places To Grow framework in 2005 to direct urban growth planning over 25 years, Hamilton launched the Growth-Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS) to meet the provincial growth target of at least 40% infill. (You can read the GRIDS Final Growth Report [PDF].)
Through the GRIDS planning process, Hamilton settled on a "Nodes And Corridors" growth model, in which new development is concentrated in identified growth nodes and along the transportation corridors that connect them.
In October 2008, Council unanimously directed Public Works staff to undertake "the functional design, detail design and construction of the B-line rapid transit corridor ... utilizing Light Rail Technology" after a feasibility study identified LRT on the B-Line as the best way to achieve the goals of the City's Transportation Master Plan.
At the same time, the Regional Transportation Plan published by Metrolinx identified the east-west B-Line as one of its top priority projects. Public Works staff in the Rapid Transit Office engaged closely with Metrolinx to design the B-Line LRT system.
In June 2009, the City approved a new Official Plan that identified the east-west B-Line corridor as a major strategic area for new development. The Official Plan was approved with some amendments [PDF] by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in March 2011 but is currently pending under several appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board.
All the stars were aligning around the B-Line, and the city's Planning and Economic Development department committed to developing a Secondary Plan for intensification along the B-Line that would coordinate with the Rapid Transit planning and design work being undertaken by Public Works.
This was an important strategic move: Cities that coordinate LRT construction with a new secondary plan to encourage transit-oriented development realize the biggest benefits in new private investment and development around the line.
Planning and Economic Development began to work in earnest on the B-Line Secondary Plan, conducting a land use planning study and then, earlier this year, engaging community stakeholders in a creative series of design charrettes to envision what new development along the LRT line and around the stations could look like.
The Nodes and Corridors team have now published the results of those design exercises and invite the public to comment on the design charette reports. You can read the background presentation [PDF] and view the individual charrette reports for the six nodes that were studied:
You can send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, October 3, 2011.
On July 15, City Manager Chris Murray sent an email to Council to advise them that he had "made a decision to suspend all current direct and indirect activities of the Light Rail Transit Initiative other than any work activities required to be completed under the agreement" with the Province to complete a class Environmental Assessment.
I contacted the Nodes and Corridors team to ask if Murray's directive had any impact on their activities. Christine Lee-Morrison, the manager of nodes and corridors planning, replied to advise me that their work continues unaffected.
The planning study has been coordinated with the rapid transit initiative, as timing of the new Official Plan and the status of the rapid transit studies have allowed for this opportunity to coordinate. However, the B-Line Nodes and Corridors Land Use Planning Study is an important implementation measure of the new Official Plan, regardless of LRT status.
The Public Works department will be presenting a report to the General Issues Committee (GIC, formerly the Committee of the Whole) on October 13 that will update members of Council on the status of the Rapid Transit team's current activities and recommend next steps.
According to Kelly Anderson, spokesperson for the Public Works Department, "The Rapid Transit team is continuing to complete the work that is part of the $3M funding commitment. Nothing has been formally suspended at this time." We'll receive more details in the October 13 report.