Special Report: Walkable Streets

Hamilton's Problem Is Not Ignorance

No matter how many times we hear from experts, no matter how many pleas we hear from the people who actually live downtown, and no matter how many cities we observe engaging in successful processes of transformation, we don't change.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 07, 2012

Hamilton recently hosted yet another event where we heard about what we ought to be doing.

We're not doing it, and it's not because we don't know what to do.

Back in March, Ryan McGreal wrote a scathing article, 2012 Transportation Summit: More Experts for our Traffic Planners to Ignore, where he pointed out this precise phenomenon: no matter how many times we hear from experts, no matter how many pleas we hear from the people who actually live downtown, and no matter how many cities we observe engaging in successful processes of transformation, we don't change.

Two-way street conversion is a perfect example of this problem. In October 1956, business owners railed against the one-way conversion that had taken place downtown seven months previously. Their complaints are as relevant today as they were 56 years ago.

But 56 years later - more than half a century! - we've only managed to revert James and John back to two-way (York's passive-aggressive conversion has left it a Two-Way In Name Only (TWINO) - it doesn't count).

The conversions of James and John have clearly been successful. In fact, James St. N. has become the poster-child of the long-awaited transformation of downtown, which begs the question: now that we've proven that two-way conversion can indeed work in Hamilton, what are we waiting for? Convert the rest of the streets back to two-way too!

But for whatever reason, two-way street conversion is just not on the agenda right now. It doesn't seem to matter that one-way streets are more dangerous for children. It doesn't seem to matter that cities as geographically separated as St. Catharine's, London, England, and Vancouver, Washington have converted their one-ways to two-ways and enjoyed tremendous benefits as a result.

Just imagine someone saying this about Hamilton:

The merchants on Main Street had high hopes for this change. But none of them were prepared for what actually happened following the changeover on November 16, 2008. In the midst of a severe recession, Main Street in Vancouver seemed to come back to life almost overnight.

Within a few weeks, the entire business community was celebrating. "We have twice as many people going by as they did before," one of the employees at an antique store told a local reporter. The chairman of the Vancouver Downtown Association, Lee Coulthard, sounded more excited than almost anyone else. "It's like, wow," he exclaimed, "why did it take us so long to figure this out?"

A year later, the success of the project is even more apparent. Twice as many cars drive down Main Street every day, without traffic jams or serious congestion. The merchants are still happy. "One-way streets should not be allowed in prime downtown retail areas," says Rebecca Ocken, executive director of Vancouver's Downtown Association. "We've proven that."

It doesn't even seem to matter that our wide-open thoroughfares encourage drivers to drive at lethal speeds, or that our car-centric, sprawl-driven mode of development is creating lifestyles so inactive and unhealthy they're literally killing us.

This litany of facts is not sinking in where it needs to sink in, namely, in the minds of the people who are making day-to-decisions about how this city is governed and organized and what it prioritizes. Or, if it is sinking in, they just aren't doing much of anything about it for reasons I am currently at a loss to explain.

And it really can't be ignorance, because the message has been broadcast so many times. There are always politicians at the Hamilton Economic Summit, for example, and for two years running the keynote speakers rammed home the same message: walkability is critical, you must convert your one-way streets to two-way, you must encourage density and an active, vibrant street life, unsustainable sprawl cannot be your future.

Afterwards? Nothing.

Of course, there are exceptions, and they're worth noting. Councillor McHattie has been an effective and determined advocate for numerous walkability-related measures in Ward 1. It was thrilling to see Raise the Hammer's first-ever Walkability Win when Public Works agreed to install a pedestrian-activated stoplight on Aberdeen Street at Kent, and McHattie continues to oversee the installation of new bicycle paths throughout his ward.

But considering City Hall's institutional momentum and apparent council ambivalence toward walkability, it's a wonder McHattie is able to get anything done at all. It's clear he needs more allies. It's clear that the legions of people who read Raise the Hammer; who have supported various city-building initiatives like Our City, Our Future and Hamilton Light Rail; and who continue to flock downtown for urban events like Art Crawl also need more allies.

It really is time to move past the "what" and on to the "how" and "when". Past exhortations have failed. We need to do something different this time. But what?

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 22:29:14

Adrian,

Here is some additional information you may want to include in your article regarding the safety issue.

from http://www.debunkingportland.com/oneways...

"Studies were conducted from the 1930's to the 1970's of "before" and "after" conditions as cities switched from two-way to one-way streets. Almost universally they found that one-way streets had 10-20% lower accident rates than when previously two-way. Most significantly, pedestrian accidents plummeted by 30-60% (Pages A-126; A-162, Source 1; Pages 7-2 to 7-8, Source 2; Source 3; Page 28, Source 4; and Chapter 10, Source 5). As one traffic safety expert noted: "Conversion from two-way to one-way street systems has consistently been found to reduce pedestrian accidents" (Source 6)".

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By adrian (registered) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 22:42:00 in reply to Comment 76578

Great website you've dug up there! In addition to questionable claims in the the mainly unavailable studies from the "1930's to the 1970's" referenced in that article, I also learned that Traffic Calming Kills People, that fuel efficiency standards kill people too and that Light Rail Causes Crime.

Also: Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Representative for Oregon's 3rd congressional district, drives an SUV!! Just so you don't have to follow me home: I confess, I own a car. It's not a hybrid.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 23:03:37 in reply to Comment 76578

interesting this study never mentioned the total pedestrian traffic rate. if no one walks down the street no one will be killed.... Its no surprise to me no pedestrians are killed at cannon and wentworth... because there are none.

I'd rather be a dead pedestrian in a vibrant neighborhood than living in a dead neighborhood.

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By Fleet (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 08:50:58

Maybe it's cynical, but I've always thought the equation for City Hall was relatively simple: The people who live downtown are, for the most part, economically and politically disenfranchised, and relatively low in number (one fifth of ward 2 population and around 2% of Hamilton's population), while the policy is being driven -- literally -- by the majority who see downtown streets as an thoroughfare and not a "third space".

Single and childless (50% of downtown dwellers) renters (85% of downtown dwellers) who make less than $20K a year (64% of downtown dwellers) are easier for policymakers to ignore than families (average household income ~$70K) who own their homes.

Off-hand, I would imagine this is how trucks trump strollers on Cannon.

http://www.investinhamilton.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/DowntownProfile.pdf

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 10:56:45

Gotta say that when I first heard the idea of converting James and John back to two way, I was against it. Having lived my entire life (51 years) in Hamilton, I always thought the timed traffic lights and our one way street systems were terrific.

I thought converting back to two ways would make no difference. Boy, was I wrong. James St N. is amazing during (and not during) art crawls, and many times I'll go out of my way to drive/cruise down there when i'm passing by, just to experience James St N.

Sure it's slower to drive now, but so what? As I explain this to others who don't like the thought of slower traffic on James N., I ask them, "How much longer does it really take to travel along James? A couple minutes? A few minutes?"

Certainly not a significant amount of time to make you late for anything.

Yes, John slows down and backs up somewhat at the bottom of the Jolley Cut, but it's well worth allotting the extra 5 minutes in your car trip so that the urban fabric can heal itself from the wounds the freeway butchering that took place wit the advent of one way conversions.

Isn't it well established that James and John Streets are much better now? Why re we not jumping at the prospect of "fixing" the rest of our one ways.

What do you think the people of Dundas would say if we converted there downtown King st to one way?

Why is downtown Dundas so wonderful?

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 11:12:46 in reply to Comment 76615

"Why is downtown Dundas so wonderful?"

I'll take this a step further: there are a surprising number of streets in Dundas where the speed limit is 40 Kmh. And I'm not just talking about cul-de-sacs and far-reaches-of-the-survey situations.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 11:28:04

It really is time to move past the "what" and on to the "how" and "when".

Indeed it is, but when people can't agree on "what", the "how" and "when" are moot points. Even when it seems like we can move on to "how" and "when" we get dragged back to the "what" time and time again, (e.g., West Harbour, LRT). This city's problem is not ignorance, this city's problem is division and segregation. The entrenched ideologies at the polar extremes in this city aren't helping it. A voice of bridge-building and facilitation is needed in this city, not more voices preaching to the converted and entrenched.

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By Blargh (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 11:33:40 in reply to Comment 76615

Is this why the Mountain, which is teeming with two-ways, is so vibrant?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 11:52:50 in reply to Comment 76620

I submit that the division is largely a result of ignorance.

A strong and healthy downtown will help the burbs, not hurt them. They need to realize that.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 11:57:33 in reply to Comment 76625

And yet we have a Council...our leaders, mind you, the people who are charged with taking us from one place, to a better one...who sees even something as simple as a ward boundary review as being calamitous. So if *they're* not 'edjumacatin' the masses, whose responsibility is it?

What entity is there currently that can take care of what both you and Kiely are suggesting?

http://www.hamiltonnews.com/news/all-hell-predicted-to-break-loose-over-redrawing-wards/

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 12:15:44

CouldaWouldaShoulda wrote "What entity is there currently that can take care of what both you and Kiely are suggesting? "

Damsn good question. I dunno.

Ramped up engagement?

More calls/emails to politicians and media (letters to Spec)

"Preaching" to colleagues, friends and family?



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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 12:29:01 in reply to Comment 76578

...and here is some additional information you may want to include when posting links to Randal O'Toole websites.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 13:44:19 in reply to Comment 76601

You're absolutely right.

Also, there are certain individuals and businesses that are forever championing the building of new and bigger roads ~ the waterfront / Burlington street extension for example. Some of these characters have a lot of pull down at City Hall and I can only imagine that they make life very hard for people who actually want to change city streets.

It's time to break free, even if it means certain councillors will lose their job.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2012 at 14:29:19 in reply to Comment 76615

I can see why the city planners are stalwart about keeping the main arteries one-way, but I still don't get why they haven't learned from James and John - with that success, why isn't every north/south street west of Wellington (except Queen, a major artery) not been converted into a 2-way street? That's the logical conclusion to get here. So why not learn from the success?

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By cornfused (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 14:52:29 in reply to Comment 76581

Huh? Think about what you just wrote there.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 15:24:23 in reply to Comment 76625

Perhaps Captain, but here's the dilemma I see... you rarely get people to move from their entrenched positions by calling them ignorant. The other problem is many of the people that need to change their ideologies in order for progressive change to occur do not believe they are ignorant because they are the followers of the accepted dogma and rhetoric of the past 60 years, a 60 year span that made our entire culture/society one of ignorance. You needn't look farther than the comments left right here on RTH to see many of these people deeply and truly believe it is the progressives who are ignorant… sadly these beliefs are manufactured by our "culture."

So here is the catch-22. I can't disagree that ignorance abounds but I have a hard time seeing a solution treating the problem as one of ignorance; where the ignorant need to be cajoled, coerced, educated or forced into accepting enlightenment. The way I see it the nature of their condition makes self-realization the only way forward for them.

It is almost like somehow we need to make them think it was their idea before they'll realise it's a good idea... Pardon the facetiousness.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 15:26:18 in reply to Comment 76629

A leader.

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By Fleet (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 15:40:23 in reply to Comment 76641

As I see it, the equation may be complicated by the fact that Wards 2-4 have starkly blended constituencies, which can pit industrial/distribution interests against those of residents. Pass it through the MIP/MITL transpo-centric filter and it only gets saltier.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 16:14:42 in reply to Comment 76647

Dare I say, "champion"?

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 16:24:16 in reply to Comment 76581

Where were you when I brought up the same point regarding the Hamilton pedestrian accident study in the past?

I brought up the exact same point previously. It's interesting (and telling) to see the stark contrast in up vs down votes.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 16:25:43 in reply to Comment 76631

When you can't attack the facts, attack the person?

I agree that a lot of what that guy says is ridiculous, but I wasn't talking about what that guy says. My point was to show what other statistics have to say about the same issue.

If nothing else, this shows that statistics can be used to show what ever one wants.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 16:46:04 in reply to Comment 76631

So, lets forget where the quote came from. Let's just look at a specific study done by the State of Orgeon.

The study looked at 12 different areas in Oregon (Portland I guess?) where streets were converted from 2 way streets into 1 way couplets. Data was collected for several years before and after the conversion.

All collisions before = 4755 All collisions after = 4295

pedestrian collisions before = 156 Pedestrian collisions after = 122

Someone questioned the rate of accidents. Although there is no data regarding accidents per number of pedestrians, there is data for accidents per million vehicle miles.

Accidents per MVM before = 41.27 Accidents per MVM after = 30.21

Accident rates decreased in 11 of the 12 areas studied.

The accident severity rate was shown to, on average, stay the same or reduce slightly after conversion to one way couplet.

Based on the above, I don't know how anyone can conclusively say that two way streets are, without question, safer than one way streets... even for pedestrians.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 16:51:22 in reply to Comment 76580

I wasn't suggesting the website was a great website or even a good website.

Instead of attacking what is on the website, which has nothing to do with what I was talking about, why not stick to the facts outlined in what I did talk about?

If you are going to talk about what else in on the website, rather than attacking the ridiculous things that are said there, why not look into the interesting things that can be found there such as the study I mention above. At least some interesting things can be found there, which I can't seem to find anywhere else.

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By Prizm (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 17:28:58

If not ignorance, maybe we can settle on "forgetfulness"?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 17:43:46

Just saw an ad today for the upcoming Economic Summit... sigh.... Lots of back-slapping followed by more inaction.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 18:20:19 in reply to Comment 76649

A 'leader'.

A 'champion'.

I'm assuming that you're saying we don't currently have anyone who fits the bill on either count.

Are you suggeting that this be the mayor, this saviour?

If so, who in the community has the chops to deliver as a 'leader' and a 'champion'? I'm curious, because this person, who only has one vote, would have to have enormous influence over the others on Council, almost all of them incumbents. In order to change a city.

: )

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 18:21:33

Hamilton councillors and city staff need to be clearer in their communications with the taxpayers on all municipal issues. Obfuscation and insufficient information tends to hold Hamilton back on many local files.

For example, the General Issues Committee Report on HECFI dated April 27, 2012 is an item on the Agenda at Hamilton city council meeting tomorrow night. There is a glaring omission of a key fact on page 3 of the report. It mentions the presentation to council by John Rockx of KPMG but it fails to state his recommendation that the city ought to proceed to negotiate with two of the six proponents, Global Spectrum/LiveNation and SMG/Forum Equity. http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/8912...

Although the city councillors at the GIC meeting voted to override the KPMG report and instead negotiate with five of the six proponents, the original recommendations by KPMG should be part of the public record. Council spent $329,000 on the KPMG report. Hamilton taxpayers have the right to receive a concise summary of the recommendations made by KPMG.

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By Griffon (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 19:04:34 in reply to Comment 76615

There are a host of reasons why Dundas works as well as it does. Traffic engineering being one of them. Socioeconomic factors as well as the "Dundas Forever" pride in having autonomy from Hamilton is another.

Aside from anything else, having a relatively high density of affluent populace clustered within walking distance of a well-rounded commercial/service core is a workable formula as well. See Locke South, for example. Absent that diversity of offerings and a clientele capable or supporting it, street directionals and speed limits will only ever do so much.

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By bottlerocket (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 21:12:15

It's an urban planning problem, but more fundamentally it's about justice. City Hall is waaaay too comfortable sacrificing the health and well-being of a relatively poor and disenfranchised downtown population for outside moneyed interests. I think we need to be noisier and more confrontational, freak City Hall out a little bit, force them to rethink. Like, say, getting a big crowd together and shutting down Main Street. Make it a regular thing, grow the crowd as big as you can, call the media, get arrested a few times, bring the kids. Deliver a clear, uncompromising message: These our neighborhoods, these are our streets, and we're taking them back.

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By univerasal truth (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 04:37:09

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 05:43:06 in reply to Comment 76646

Kiely, your comment is great. I appreciate where you're coming from. But a few counter-points...

First off, the 'ignorant' aren't in this discussion. So calling them 'ignorant' is a moot point, as well as being academic. But maybe the more appropriate word isn't 'ignorant', but 'detached'. So because they're detached, because they're wholly disinterested in this discussion, they're not reading these comments. They're not even coming to a site such as this. So worrying about what we're calling them just isn't a factor in potential success. Not until they're actually part of the discussion. At which point your strategy should change markedly.

Secondly, don't you think it's a bit ironic you can make the declaration about ignorance while stating '...a 60 year span that made our entire culture/society one of ignorance'? We really need some context here, otherwise your statement is incredibly damning, and I don't believe that's fair.

As well, don't forget there's a difference between 'ignorance'/detachment and 'difference of opinion'. If someone is on here saying the progressives are ignorant...then by definition, they're not in the 'ignorant' category, because they're active, they're commenting here. This difference is as valid a one as that between someone who is 'naïve' and someone who just sees things in an entirely different way.

As for the 'solution', don't count on self-realization. Those people will have their epiphanies, but they're really not the challenge. The challenge is getting the detached involved, 'seducing' them to invest more in their streets, their neighbourhoods, their communities so that they migrate from 'ignorance'/detachment to a default that's more informed. (But I need to say that this doesn't mean they're automatically going to be 'progressive'. They still might disagree with the progressive agenda. But I'll bet they'll be better neighbours, more engaged residents.)

I don't think it's necessary to 'make them think it was their own idea'. I think you can get them on-board without having to go through all the rigamarole of such efforts. (To be frank, facetiousness isn't the issue here. Patronization is.) People want to have better communities and a better city. They just don't want to feel they're wasting their time. They want to belong, they want to contribute (each according to their abilities and motivation, of course), but just like students, they need to be provided the opportunities to succeed.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:19:53

Adrian, you're right. Hamilton's problem isn't ignorance. But maybe it's a combination of other elements just as powerful.

The truth is that for many Hamiltonians...even if we're just talking the 'Original City of Hamilton'...what you've focused on as an issue isn't one deserving of much attention, never mind the citizen equivalent of 'political will'. If you want to label this 'they just don't care', fine. There are all kinds of issues out there in the world that have relatively small groups of impassioned, dedicated people working on...that never make it onto the radar of most of us, and even less of us end up getting on-board with the causes.

When you combine this with the other elements...councillors who lack the inspiration and motivation to generate political will to fight for the reversal of one-way streets, in combination with legacy reluctance on the part of City Staff and Outside Forces That Prevent Genuine Change in This Arena...then you end up with-

Well, you end up with you writing this article, bemoaning how we can't seem to effect the change that at least 'some' of us are in agreement with. And then, this:

"It really is time to move past the "what" and on to the "how" and "when". Past exhortations have failed. We need to do something different this time. But what?"

-'How?' Well, there needs to be enough force placed on a seemingly immovable object in order for it to be moved. Developers understand this game. Residents either don't, never enter into the process ('they just don't care'), or when they do, there's rarely sufficient force applied to the factor that's traditonally been 'the decider', Council. So it seems to me that there needs to be either sufficient force generated and applied to Council, or to have one that sees things the way you're suggested they should be seeing things. Given that in 2014, most incumbents will be returned (it's an historical fact), then the force to get Council to effect the changes needs to be generated.

-'Past exhortations have failed'. Councillors will, if appropriately 'motivated', will effect change. They don't tend to effect change by dint of op-eds read here, or at The Spec or at The Hamiltonian. The fact is that what you see as 'exhortations' haven't registered sufficiently en masse at Council. (Mostly because the vast majority of Hamiltonians 'just don't care'.) You've been active, Ryan's been active, RTH has been active, there have been events where the topic(s) have been front-and-centre...but it might help not to confuse all this with what's required to get results out of City Hall, what's required for Council to effect change.

-'We need to do something different this time. But what?' Well, how many options are there? Wishing for better leadership? Protracted, strategized civil disobedience as suggested at 'Dissidents'? I'm inclined to refer to both Occam's Razor as well as 'Don't try harder...think smarter.' (See 'How?')

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:26:30 in reply to Comment 76615

You had me on everything except the Dundas part. It is beautiful.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:37:31 in reply to Comment 76646

you rarely get people to move from their entrenched positions by calling them ignorant. And I like the 'make it seem like it was there idea part. What's it hurt if it keeps them involved and inspires them to care and feel like they are making a difference.

James and john conversions are the cats behind. I can't remember them one way now and I agree Adrian, let's keep it going.

And why not queen to the comment above? I know its busy enough around 5 everyone trying to get up the hill but would two way change that? Just wondering.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:41:33 in reply to Comment 76677

But those 'we' feel are 'ignorant' may stunble upon here for that one story that finaly sparks their interest and if they start reading all these comments about ignorance and being dissengaged, doesn't that scare them off?

Let's just leave the judgement out of it in general and just be the best people we can be ourselves and keep being passionate and caring for our community and the more people see it working/amounting to results, hopefully the more people will start getting involved.

That's why its important to ensure the articles on a site such as this are as diverse as possible. You brought me here because of football. Now I am reading about walkable streets and LRT and bad developers and ...

Write about everything while keeping with the root of what this site is about will reel in anyone who is passionate about anything. Even hockey stats can teach us something.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-05-09 08:48:16

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By DBC (registered) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:51:50 in reply to Comment 76682

Queen St. two-way is almost a no-brainer. Instead of forcing all of the traffic that wants to get north to Main along Aberdeen and Herkimer through a residential neighbourhood, have Queen 2 lanes north bound for the morning rush and 2 lanes southbound for the evening rush.

During the day it could be one lane in each direction with parking on the east side. It's just a matter of installing the signals. Seems to work just fine on the Kenilworth/Sherman access and Jarvis St. in Toronto.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:52:38 in reply to Comment 76683

"But those 'we' feel are 'ignorant' may stunble upon here for that one story that finaly sparks their interest and if they start reading all these comments about ignorance and being dissengaged, doesn't that scare them off?"

Maybe it does. And if it does, I suspect they weren't 'ready' anyway. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that reading open and honest discourse would probably nudge those who *are* ready, all the more.

But I really don't see the need for a 'kid's glove' approach to talking about something that is at the heart of this city's resurrection. I agree with your notion that 'leading by example' will bear some fruit. But there are ways to ramp-up this approach safely, humanely, with the potential of producing a veritable harvest.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 08:55:24 in reply to Comment 76649

YES! Good leaders become champions or at least leave a lasting legacy of repsect. People don't talk smack about leaders they want to model their own paths after. People will do anything to support someone they believe in and who they feel has the whole 'teams' best interest at heart.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 09:00:48 in reply to Comment 76658

The problem with council if you put them in the context of a sports team with the captain as the leader who only has one vote (just one part of the teams role), is that there is no GM/coach that can say hey, this person isn't producing and isn't a team player. Until politicians are able to be held accountable and fired/traded and not only under extreme circumstances, how can we ever truly build a championship team that brings home the cup (stadium/lrt/more one-way streets/etc), to the people (fans) of our communities.

What do we love about sports because so many of us love them? How can we carry those passions and lessons and leadership and that feeling of champions (lister bldg), to our council roundatbles?

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 09:02:30 in reply to Comment 76658

Once upon a time when common people actually made progress they had leaders... real leaders. Now we have Bob Bratinas, Rob Fords, Steven Harpers.

Could a mayor be a leader, of course. Is our mayor a leader? HELL NO! As for who in the community could be the type of leader we need? Probably no one.

Also, the mayor doesn't need power over the councillors, by being popular with the constituents there is power over the councillors. A councillor picking fights with a popular mayor will be worrying about his future next election... and reelection is the name of the game, nothing else matters as much to councillors. Nothing.

Sheesh, so cynical eh???? Okay, I'm going to try to be more positive for the rest of my day : )

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 12:08:13 in reply to Comment 76688

"Once upon a time when common people actually made progress they had leaders... real leaders. Now we have Bob Bratinas, Rob Fords, Steven Harpers."

At the risk of sounding argumentative, could you provide some examples of when we had 'real leaders'?

And maybe cite some instances where they provided real leadership?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 17:48:46

Horst Rittel coined the term wicked problem, while teaching design and architecture over 30 years. Although he never practiced architecture he managed to change the field of design by linking design and politics.

Rittel introduced several fundamental ideas:

  • Simple problems (problems which are already defined) are easy to solve, because defining a problem inherently defines a solution.
  • The definition of a problem is subjective; it comes from a point of view. Thus, when defining problems, all stake-holders, experts, and designers are equally knowledgeable (or unknowledgeable).
  • Some problems cannot be solved, because stake-holders cannot agree on the definition. These problems are called wicked, but sometimes they can be tamed.
  • Solving simple problems may lead to improvement—but not innovation. For innovation, we need to re-frame wicked problems.
  • Because one person cannot possibly remember or keep track of all the variables (of both existing and desired states) in a wicked problem, taming wicked problems requires many people.
  • These people have to talk to each other; they have to deliberate; they have to argue.
  • To tame a wicked problem, they have to agree on goals and actions for reaching them. This requires knowledge about actions, not just facts.
  • Science is concerned with factual knowledge (what-is); design is concerned with instrumental knowledge (how what-is relates to what-ought-to-be), how actions can meet goals.
  • The process of argumentation is the key and perhaps the only method of taming wicked problems.
  • This process is political.
  • Design is political.

"In response to the perceived failures of early attempts at systematic design, Rittel introduced the concept of 'second generation design methods' and a planning/design method known as Issues Based Information Systems (IBIS) for handling wicked problems."

Has 'two-way streets' become the default solution to Hamilton downtown's many poorly defined problems?

Note: I will be hosting a series of Urban Design Workshops starting next month. The first in this series is called "Taming the Main" - which aims to examine Main Street from McMaster to Gage, block-by-block, with a view to re-framing issues; and via a collective visioning process, develop block specific solutions to humanize this monstrous artery which has impacted the cultural and economic viability of our downtown. All here are welcome to this event which will be held in the International Village - (details will be posted here soon).

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:45:15 in reply to Comment 76715

Hamilton's problem is anonymous indifference.

I CouldaWouldaShoulda be active morning, noon and night, but I find IT hard to schmooze whenever I choose write.

Wicked problems and lack of action, that is our Hamiltonian plight? The judge is winking and I wish I were thinking of some StartupDrinks tonight! But I'm a poor bloke and brokenly spoke - I rarely hoped I coulda forded tha pint:-(

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By LauraLaura (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:47:44

Food for thought from a Hamiltonian living in Toronto:

Right now there is discussion in Toronto about converting some of the two-way streets to one-way streets to improve traffic flow and make room for bicycle lanes.

I don't think the one-way vs. two-way streets discussion is super relevant to solving downtown Hamilton's problems. In terms of street design, I'd argue the walk-abiliy and bike-ability are more important, which you can facilitate with both types of streets.

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By LauraLaura (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:50:33

P.S. the study showing higher accident rates for children on one-way streets also admits that the SPPED increased dramatically one-way streets. I think probably this is why there are more injuries. With lower residential speed limits, this issue would be avoided.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:53:33 in reply to Comment 76739

The discussion about converting Yonge Street to one way is being spearheaded by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a noted apologist for Toronto's overwhelmingly car-centred road network and a staunch opponent of expanding the city's nascent bike lane network onto city streets. His preference is for a network of off-street bike paths that don't encroach on vehicle lanes (and don't go to the places that bicycle commuters would like to ride).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:55:01 in reply to Comment 76740

Speed limits alone don't do anything to reduce average speeds. Instead, the street itself must be so designed as to signal to drivers that they should slow down: opposing traffic flows, narrow lanes, curbside parking, bike lanes, wide sidewalks, overhanging street trees, and so on.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2012 at 13:45:18 in reply to Comment 76739

I don't think the one-way vs. two-way streets discussion is super relevant to solving downtown Hamilton's problems. In terms of street design, I'd argue the walk-abiliy and bike-ability are more important, which you can facilitate with both types of streets.

Please tell me about some of these walkable one-way streets. (that might sound sarcastic; but I'm quite in earnest)

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2012 at 15:03:49 in reply to Comment 76715

Is speed in downtown a matter of perception based on the infamous "Main Street Dash" - which is a direct result of the faulty highway exit design at 403 Main East? or are high speeds in reality pervasive across the lower city?

Based on this new traffic update at CBC-Hamilton how does one now re-frame the speeding issue in Hamilton?

Latest Traffic Update:

  • James St SB: Barton to Markland 1 minute delay (Average 14 km/h)

  • King St WB: Wellington to Bay 1 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • James St NB: Arkledun to Barton 1 minute delay (Average 14 km/h)

  • Mud St WB: Paramount to the Linc 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)

  • Centennial Pkwy NB: Barton to King 0 minute delay (Average 34 km/h)

  • Aberdeen Ave EB: 403 to Queen St 0 minute delay (Average 26 km/h)

  • Centennial Pkwy SB: King to QEW 0 minute delay (Average 29 km/h)

  • Governor's Rd EB: Creighton to Osler Dr 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)

  • Upper James NB: Rymal to the Linc 0 minute delay (Average 21 km/h)

  • Upper James SB: the Linc to Rymal 0 minute delay (Average 34 km/h)

  • Queenston Rd WB: Centennial Pkwy to Potruff 0 minute delay (Average 27 km/h)

  • Queenston Rd EB: Potruff to Centennial Pkwy 0 minute delay (Average 21 km/h)

  • Aberdeen Ave WB: Queen St. to the 403 0 minute delay (Average 32 km/h)

  • Red Hill Valley Pkwy SB 0 minute delay (Average 61 km/h)

  • Claremont Access NB 0 minute delay (Average 63 km/h)

  • Red Hill Valley Pkwy NB 0 minute delay (Average 68 km/h)

  • Lincoln Alexander Pkwy EB 0 minute delay (Average 98 km/h)

  • Main St WB: Longwood to Cootes Dr 0 minute delay (Average 26 km/h)

  • Main St EB: Leland to Wellington 0 minute delay (Average 24 km/h)

  • Lincoln Alexander Pkwy WB 0 minute delay (Average 92 km/h)

  • Queen St SB: Herkimer to Aberdeen 0 minute delay (Average 29 km/h)

  • Claremont Access SB 0 minute delay (Average 58 km/h)

  • Locke St NB: Aberdeen to King 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • Burlington St EB: James to QEW 0 minute delay (Average 34 km/h)

  • James Mountain Rd SB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • James Mountain Rd NB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • 403 WB: York Blvd to the Linc 0 minute delay (Average 43 km/h)

  • John St SB: Barton to Main 0 minute delay (Average 18 km/h)

  • John St NB: Main to Barton 0 minute delay (Average 18 km/h)

  • 403 EB: Garner Rd (Hwy6) to York Blvd 0 minute delay (Average 48 km/h)

  • Kenilworth Access SB 0 minute delay (Average 27 km/h)

  • Garth St NB: Mohawk to Fennell 0 minute delay (Average 32 km/h)

  • Beckett Drive NB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • Beckett Drive SB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • Sherman Access EB 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)

  • Sherman Access WB 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)

  • Kenilworth Access NB 0 minute delay (Average 31 km/h)

  • Jolley Cut SB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

  • Jolley Cut NB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2012 at 15:10:04 in reply to Comment 76745

Look at King E through the International village.

One-way traffic doesn't seem so bad when it's only two driving lanes.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-05-10 15:10:31

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By interested and informed (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2012 at 20:33:15 in reply to Comment 76685

The problem I'm having with this discussion is that in reality every time someone disagrees with the views here and posts contrary opinion, that person is instantly ridiculed and run off. I am not certain how anyone here can call this engagement or why anyone here would expect those that disagree with the views held here would feel this is engagement. Dialogue involves an exchange of differing ideas. When this site's regulars are able to listen to viewpoints they disagree with without instantly citing ignorance as the reason for differing views people might actually start listening to your views. Until that time don't expect much different than the response you've been getting

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2012 at 02:00:37 in reply to Comment 76747

"Speed limits alone don't do anything to reduce average speeds." ~ Ryan

Here is the "Latest Traffic Update" from around 1.32 am Friday, May 11, 2012 (the above traffic data was from Thurs afternoon):

  • Claremont Access SB 0 minute delay (Average 60 km/h)
  • Upper James SB: the Linc to Rymal 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)
  • Centennial Pkwy SB: King to QEW 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)
  • Centennial Pkwy NB: Barton to King 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)
  • Upper James NB: Rymal to the Linc 0 minute delay (Average 26 km/h)
  • Mud St WB: Paramount to the Linc 0 minute delay (Average 39 km/h)
  • Aberdeen Ave WB: Queen St. to the 403 0 minute delay (Average 42 km/h)
  • Aberdeen Ave EB: 403 to Queen St 0 minute delay (Average 29 km/h)
  • Governor's Rd EB: Creighton to Osler Dr 0 minute delay (Average 40 km/h)
  • Queenston Rd WB: Centennial Pkwy to Potruff 0 minute delay (Average 31 km/h)
  • Queenston Rd EB: Potruff to Centennial Pkwy 0 minute delay (Average 31 km/h)
  • Red Hill Valley Pkwy NB 0 minute delay (Average 68 km/h)
  • Red Hill Valley Pkwy SB 0 minute delay (Average 61 km/h)
  • Claremont Access NB 0 minute delay (Average 68 km/h)
  • Lincoln Alexander Pkwy EB 0 minute delay (Average 82 km/h)
  • Lincoln Alexander Pkwy WB 0 minute delay (Average 97 km/h)
  • King St WB: Wellington to Bay 0 minute delay (Average 27 km/h)
  • Main St WB: Longwood to Cootes Dr 0 minute delay (Average 31 km/h)
  • Main St EB: Leland to Wellington 0 minute delay (Average 24 km/h)
  • Queen St SB: Herkimer to Aberdeen 0 minute delay (Average 32 km/h)
  • Beckett Drive SB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)
  • James St NB: Arkledun to Barton 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)
  • James St SB: Barton to Markland 0 minute delay (Average 23 km/h)
  • Locke St NB: Aberdeen to King 0 minute delay (Average 23 km/h)
  • James Mountain Rd SB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)
  • James Mountain Rd NB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)
  • 403 WB: York Blvd to the Linc 0 minute delay (Average 45 km/h)
  • John St SB: Barton to Main 0 minute delay (Average 21 km/h)
  • John St NB: Main to Barton 0 minute delay (Average 26 km/h)
  • Burlington St EB: James to QEW 0 minute delay (Average 37 km/h)
  • 403 EB: Garner Rd (Hwy6) to York Blvd 0 minute delay (Average 61 km/h)
  • Sherman Access EB 0 minute delay (Average 39 km/h)
  • Garth St NB: Mohawk to Fennell 0 minute delay (Average 35 km/h)
  • Beckett Drive NB 0 minute delay (Average 21 km/h)
  • Sherman Access WB 0 minute delay (Average 39 km/h)
  • Jolley Cut NB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)
  • Kenilworth Access SB 0 minute delay (Average 32 km/h)
  • Kenilworth Access NB 0 minute delay (Average 32 km/h)
  • Jolley Cut SB 0 minute delay (Average 19 km/h)

This data is from the CBC-Hamilton website. And the company providing the above local traffic data states:

"Beat the Traffic is a service that lets you know about all the traffic conditions in your area, in real time. With Beat the Traffic you get to create your own personalized routes and see traffic speeds, incidents, cameras, even weather along the exact routes you plan to drive. Better yet, if there's any change of conditions while you're on the road, we'll notify you so you don't get stuck. That's what we're all about: helping you spend less time stuck in traffic, more time moving on with your life."

So how does the argument in favour of slowing down traffic in the downtown core stand up in face of this average real-time speed data here and above?

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-05-11 02:08:13

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:12:25 in reply to Comment 76765

One of the most factual and informative posts gets downvoted. Makes complete sense.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:13:31 in reply to Comment 76742

"don't do ANYTHING?" Not true.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:00:21 in reply to Comment 76781

Studies on the effects of changing speed limits overwhelmingly support the conclusion that by themselves, speed limits have essentially no effect on automobile speeds. Regardless of speed limits, motorists will drive at what feels like a comfortable speed given the design and conditions of the street itself.

The evidence for this is overwhelming and easy to find, but here's a token link to a national study published in 1992 by the US Federal Highway Administration, which concluded:

this nationwide study confirms the results of numerous other observational studies which found that the majority of motorist do not alter their speed to conform to speed limits they perceive as unreasonable for prevailing conditions.

Study after study confirms that most drivers will simply ignore a speed limit that is set lower than the average unencumbered speed of the 85th percentile.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2012 at 16:15:51

Nearly a decade after hammering away at what needs to be done right in order to turn Hamilton downtown around, there is no political buy-in.

If the ends are to revitalize downtown Hamilton in our lifetime, the central thrust of arguments around this concern should not be focused around 'automobile speed' or 'anti-automobile sentiments' - but rather re-framed around economic sustainability. In not doing so, we are only hurting the cause of revitalization and delaying what is inevitable.

"Why Remove Urban Highways: Cities are not removing all highways because of a sudden awakening of environmental consciousness or realization that car culture is bad. Rather, cities are removing urban highways in very specific circumstances, which include":

  1. Costs of Reconstruction and Repair.
  2. Economic Revitalization.
  3. Increased Property Value.
  4. Making Waterfronts Accessible.
  5. Offering Better Solutions to Meet Mobility Needs.

~ from THE LIFE AND DEATH OF URBAN HIGHWAYS

"The search for scientific bases for confronting problems of social policy is bound to fail, because of the nature of these problems. They are "wicked" problems, whereas science has developed to deal with "tame" problems. Policy problems cannot be definitively described. Moreover, in a pluralistic society there is nothing like the undisputable public good; there is no objective definition of equity; policies that respond to social problems cannot be meaningfully correct or false; and it makes no sense to talk about "optimal solutions" to social problems unless severe qualifications are imposed first. Even worse, there are no "solutions" in the sense of definitive and objective answers."

"George Bernard Shaw diagnosed the case several years ago; in more recent times popular protest may have already become a social movement. Shaw averred that "every profession is a conspiracy against the laity." The contemporary publics are responding as though they have made the same discovery."

~ from: DILEMMAS IN A GENERAL THEORY OF PLANNING, Horst Rittel, Melvin Webber

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-05-11 16:16:26

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 17:29:04 in reply to Comment 76784

"Study after study confirms that most drivers will simply ignore a speed limit that is set lower than the average unencumbered speed of the 85th percentile"

I think you have to be careful when you say "ignore". Ignoring and not following are two different things.

Here is an example to illustrate my point.

A guy named Ryan is driving on a perfectly straight country road with no cross roads or other traffic. The speed limit is 80. Ryan is driving 95 Km/h. Ryan passes a speed limit sign that says the speed will be reduced to 60km/h in 100 m. Ryan sees the sign and slows his speed down to 70 km/h.

Although Ryan is not following the rules, he is not "ignoring" the sign.

To say that speed limits do NOTHING to effect speeds is absolutely ridiculous.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 22:02:25 in reply to Comment 76784

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-05-12 16:18:24

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2012 at 07:04:47 in reply to Comment 76754

"The problem I'm having with this discussion is that in reality every time someone disagrees with the views here and posts contrary opinion, that person is instantly ridiculed and run off."

That's just the way it is here. People are either run off, or they're downvoted mercilessly. The effect is the same.

On other forums, this isn't a problem, people show more respect, and focus on the *idea* being expressed rather than making it personal.

On the subject of dialogue, here's something that's quite invaluable:

http://www.scottlondon.com/articles/ondialogue.html

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:47:44 in reply to Comment 76659

Update-

At the May 9, 2012 Hamilton city council meeting, not one councillor pointed out the need to correct the glaring omission in the April 27, 2012 GIC report on HECFI and add the key fact that KPMG recommended negotiating with Global Spectrum/Live Nation and SMG/Forum Equity.

Here is a link to the video/audio recording of the April 27, 2012 GIC meeting on HECFI. At the beginning of the meeting (the 1:10 mark of the recording) City treasurer Tony Tollis clearly states that the KPMG report recommends Global Spectrum/Live Nation and SMG/Forum Equity “…because they are in the best position to maximize future savings in the operation of these facilities.” http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sir...

This key part of the KPMG recommendation is nowhere to be found in the Minutes of the April 27, 2012 GIC meeting on HECFI. http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/8912...

At the May 9, 2012 Hamilton city council meeting, Councillor Merulla (starting at 30:22 of the video/audio recording of the meeting) said the KPMG report recommended “two stakeholders” but he did not mention their names. The only stakeholder Merulla mentioned by name was Carmen’s. Merulla did not address the fact that the written Report on the April 27, 2012 GIC Meeting on HECFI omitted the KPMG recommendation to negotiate with Global Spectrum/Live Nation and SMG/Forum Equity. http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sir...

Any Hamiltonian watching the May 9, 2012 Hamilton city council meeting on Cable 14 television would have no idea which two proponents were recommended by KPMG in their $329,000 HECFI report.

Regardless of who council eventually chooses to operate the HECFI facilities, Hamilton city council and staff have an obligation to provide accurate information to the Hamilton taxpayers and they have failed to adequately inform their constituents in the April 27, 2012 GIC meeting written report and at the city council meeting on May 9, 2012.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-05-12 12:41:49

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By ShouldaWouldaCoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:47:42

Maybe Hamilton's 'problem' is a lack of sense of humour?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysmLA5TqbIY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZzgAjjuqZM&feature=relmfu

Taken from the Comments section of the latest Will Doig article at Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2012/05/12/rust_belt_chic_declining_midwest_cities_make_a_comeback/singleton/

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By silly (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 08:26:34 in reply to Comment 76625

A strong and healthy downtown will neither help nor hinder the burbs. The core has no effect on quality of life for suburbanites.

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By nonsense (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 08:37:04 in reply to Comment 76687

your problem is that you fail to realize that what constitutes a win in your mind registers as a loss in someone else's. Hence the revolving door in the mayors office. No matter what he does he cannot make the majority happy.

I hate the thought of wasting a billion dollars on a LRT line. This province cannot afford it. This city cannot afford it. One way to two way conversion is a horrible idea. Our streets work fine the way they are. Sure James N has improved since the conversion but so has King and the last time I checked it was still one way thank goodness. Etc etc etc...

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By theory (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 09:01:45 in reply to Comment 76784

that is the difference between reality and theory. once a driver gets a ticket or three he will pay attention to the limit. I believe the study that you are reffering to was one done on several highways. they were designed for a vehicle doing 70 mph and even though the limit was 55 or 60 most drivers did 70. the tickets for doing 70 which is 10 or 15 over the limit simply do not get written very often so the limit gets ignored. Cootes drive at Mac has a limit of 50 and after writing a number of tickets the drivers have gotten the message. sure there is some speeding but not a lot and the decline in the tickets written when the cops set up shop testifies to that. an 80 or 90 in a 50 is a chunk o change and gets drivers attention.

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By silly (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 09:05:38 in reply to Comment 76808

it is very clear and straight forward for you. to bad the rest of the populace does not agree. to think that you know best for all of us is arrogant and silly

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