Special Report: Walkable Streets

Councillors Launch Complete Street Study Group For Cannon, Queen

Hamiltonians are invited to walk Cannon and Queen and plan their conversion from one-way thoroughfares into complete streets.

By RTH Staff
Published November 20, 2012

Hamilton City Councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie seek a broad group of community stakeholders to help study the conversion of Cannon Street and Queen Street into complete streets.

In September, City Council approved a two-way conversion study group that would start with Queen and Cannon. Council also approved a "grassroots" environmental assessment (EA), undertaken by a broad mix of community stakeholders, that would enhance and expand the formal EA.

Volunteers will walk the streets directly, noting opportunities and issues with their planned conversion into more livable streets that balance different modes of transportation.

Public Meeting

Councillors Farr and McHattie are holding a public meeting to introduce the concept of a complete street study group and invite Hamiltonians to participate. The meeting will be held on Monday, November 26, 2012, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 71 Main Street West, Hamilton ON.

The meeting will by emceed by Councillor Jason Farr and include presentations by the following speakers:

The session will include an hour of Q and A with the panel of speakers, and attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up for more information or to join the study group of Queen and/or Cannon.

Read about our contributors.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:28:21

Good luck everyone. There are people who will be fighting this every step of the way, but we're all rooting for you.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:44:07 in reply to Comment 83046

Remember: "you" is us. We all need to take the lead on making this happen.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 13:08:50

To clarify: Volunteering as a "community stakeholder" is contingent upon attending Monday's session?

Also: Does anyone know if there is latent fiscal latitude to actually implement something in the immediate future on either or both of these thoroughfares? Or is this fated to become an open-source version of the stuff we've been contracting to consultants for the last decade?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2012 at 13:31:35 in reply to Comment 83049

Volunteering as a "community stakeholder" is contingent upon attending Monday's session?

Well, it's certainly a good way to find out more detail about the study group and what participating will entail. That said, I'm sure you could contact Councillors McHattie and Farr and let them know you would like to participate but can't make the meeting.

Does anyone know if there is latent fiscal latitude to actually implement something in the immediate future on either or both of these thoroughfares?

You can't build it until you fund it, and you can't fund it until you get Council commitment for it.

It has not yet been determined what the conversion would entail or how much that would cost, but Councillor McHattie's presentation will include a sketch of the milestones and timelines this initiative has to pass before it becomes a reality.

There may also be opportunities to divert some of the area rating levies for Wards 1, 2, and 3 toward the construction cost.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-11-20 13:31:57

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 14:00:42 in reply to Comment 83051

Thanks. I hope to attend but will also contact the councillors.

I was curious about the funding just because I seem to recall that these streets were already up for some rejuvenation (circa 2002? 2006?). Might've just been streetscaping, but still. Some level of council buy-in (and, presumably, funding).

Glad to see this moving along. Hopefully the strategy pays off.

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By RB (registered) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 13:10:57

Well this is a great first step! Hope everything turns out!

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 14:49:08

Great news! Glad to see the term 'complete street' being used. Parking, trees, bikes, cars etc..... we need many more complete streets in Hamilton.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 15:55:09

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-11-21 07:33:00

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 20:46:47 in reply to Comment 83055

Concern troll alert.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 22:46:31 in reply to Comment 83064

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-11-21 07:33:13

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By how to use google (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 22:55:31 in reply to Comment 83068

A concern troll is someone who is on one side of the discussion, but pretends to be a supporter of the other side with "concerns".

Since you are basically arguing to keep the status quo,.. but with a few less lanes and slowing traffic by 5km/hr, you are not truly in support of a complete street approach. Adding bike lanes but still favouring cars is a good start but it's not a complete street.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 23:53:11 in reply to Comment 83069

There are plenty of one-way complete streets around the world.

Tell me you wouldn't trade Main Street Hamilton for something like Blvd Des Maissoneuve in Montreal? Or Hornsby Street Vancouver? Or any street in Portland?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 07:34:22 in reply to Comment 83071

Tell me you wouldn't trade Main Street Hamilton for something like Blvd Des Maissoneuve in Montreal?

While Maissoneuve has nice bike lanes, it's not my model for what Main Street could be: it's a relatively dead street for much of its run through downtown. If I'm walking, I'll almost always skip up or down one block to walk on a more lively street.

One-way traffic is only one reason that Maissoneuve is deadish, of course - but it certainly contributes to the not-a-normal-street feel.

The question for me is not "why two way?" it's "why one way?" I need a compelling argument to continue our fifty-year failed experiment.

Comment edited by moylek on 2012-11-21 07:51:53

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By kettal (registered) | Posted November 22, 2012 at 03:09:21 in reply to Comment 83079

That's where logic unfortunately has to take a back-seat to politics.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2012 at 08:09:16 in reply to Comment 83104

Which is why we need broad public engagement to change the politics so that we can start making logical policy decisions again.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 06:06:20 in reply to Comment 83071

The comment that started this thread was posted by an infamous troll who was banned from the site for relentless ongoing abuse and personal threats. He can pretend to be reasonable, but his M.O. is to draw you as far as possible down the rabbit hole.

It's not an "idealistic mantra" to favour two-way traffic. For literally thousands of years, nearly every single street on earth has been a two-way street, and they function just fine. The evidence from dozens of cities across North America has shown that conversion of the radical paired one-way expressways of the 1950s back into two-way streets is a cheap, effective way to calm traffic, improve pedestrian life and support local retail and neighbourhood revitalization.

On a wide, four-lane street like Cannon, there is simply no reason why it can't support two-way traffic, bike lanes and safe sidewalks. It's a disingenuous false alternative to claim that Cannon can be either two-way or complete, but not both.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2012 at 16:10:43 in reply to Comment 83055

The problem with that approach is that it means nothing can be done for Queen. Queen is part of the eastbound truck-route, and it's only 2-3 lanes with no room for real widening or anything. Rehabilitating Queen between Cannon and King is going to be a challenge without going two-way.

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 22:35:11 in reply to Comment 83056

Queen can stay a truck route but no one says a truck route has to be fast. If it's a complete street then the only trucks that will use it will be the ones that must rather than the ones that choose to bypass the highways.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 20:10:08 in reply to Comment 83056

I live 2 blocks from Queen, just south of York and see potential for a couple of cross sections:

  • 8' parking lane on west curb, which can double as a right turn lane at King, Charlton and Aberdeen, 10' travel lane, 2' buffer zone, 10' 2-way bike lanes on east curb. IMO there is never a need for 2 or 3 full live lanes here. It's a freeway. 1 full lane with right turn lanes as mentioned would do the trick. And here's the best part, if it's slower and functions as a normal urban street, trucks will use the multi billion $ freeway system we built them that connects all 4 corners of the city seamlessly and easily. The last thing we should cater to is truck companies who are cutting through the city even though it actually takes them longer than using the QEW/403 or Red Hill/Linc. Once these streets are slightly slowed, it will take trucks a few minutes longer and hopefully their bosses will glance at a map and notice all the free-flowing freeways circling the city.

Second cross section is two-way:

  • 8' parking/right turns on west curb, 10' live lane south, 10' live lane north, possibly a 3-4' northbound bike lane if there's room on the east curb.

Personally I'm cool with either option if they were proposed like this. The two-way bike path idea has great appeal due to the lack of N/S bike lanes in this part of the city.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-11-20 20:10:30

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 13:49:32 in reply to Comment 83062

Personally I'm cool with either option if they were proposed like this. The two-way bike path idea has great appeal due to the lack of N/S bike lanes in this part of the city.

Two-way conversion of Bay Street is my big "why the heck hasn't this been done already" thing.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 13:52:30 in reply to Comment 83094

me too. It's crazy in it's current form. All the wasted space between Main and York for extra, unnecessary lanes. It could easily go two-way similar to how it is north of Cannon, all the way south.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 13:55:26 in reply to Comment 83095

That in itself would vastly improve bicycle access to the waterfront. With Bay Street reverting to one-way northbound at Cannon, there's no easy, legal way to cycle southbound from Pier 4 - never mind actually putting in bike lanes!

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-11-21 13:55:51

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 14:27:13 in reply to Comment 83096

Exactly. For a lot of the one-way streets in Hamilton, you can at least comprehend the logic behind keeping them 1-way. I mean, it might be a destructive trade-off, but I understand why there are forces trying to keep Cannon and King and Main one-way.

But Bay? It's just a big pointless obstacle. A completely unnecessary navigational frustration.

The only possible reason for it are the usual conspiracy theories about getting staff from City Hall back to their homes in Burlington as fast as possible.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 17:51:19 in reply to Comment 83098

look at how wide it is. It could have curb parking on the east curb, 2 northbound lanes, 1 southbound lane and either a southbound bike lane or curb-parking between King and Main. Parking bays exist between King and York so through there it could still be 2 NB, 1SB. The only block with no street parking would be between York and Cannon. South of Main it simply needs to be 1 lane each way with curb parking remaining on it's east curb. The extra width at Main can be used as a right turn lane onto Main as it currently is. It's so simple, and can be done without affecting traffic at all....which reminds me, I really need to publish this traffic data I have. Once you see the numbers for Bay St it makes this even more mind-boggling.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2012 at 11:47:02 in reply to Comment 83100

It's almost as if policymakers are not reliably rational decisionmakers.

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By Sou'Wester (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2012 at 17:42:57

The Downtown Transportation Master Plan was approved by Council in 2001.

The first project constructed under the Plan was Phase 1 of the conversion of James and John Streets (late Sept 2002).

On March 9, 2005 Hamilton City Council approved the James/John Phase 2 Conversion. That work began at some point over the summer. James & John Streets were fully opened to two-way traffic Nov 21, 2005.

That's around 5.25 km of street converted to two-way, sans bike lanes, in a blistering four years.

Queen & Aberdeen > Queen & York > Cannon & Sherman, coincidentally, is around 5.25km.

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By pearlstreet (registered) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 01:57:48

See further diaglog about this in skyscraperpage.com.

A forum consisting of many Hamilton locals excited about building plans and changes...

Good luck on the street conversion, Cannon needs this in a big way!

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By The X Guy (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 09:50:07

With the satellite tracking and mapping technology (GPS) that we currently have today, I wonder if trucking companies actively use it to plan, and adjust their routes?
Using google map directions, I picked a starting point of Ottawa Street and Burlington St (assuming that most trucks have a destination / starting point here), and an ending point of Brantford ON to see what google would recommend..... It recommends taking Ottawa, then King St to get to Hwy 403, at 42 mins. It’s alternate suggestion is Burlington St / Red Hill / Linc at 43 mins. In current traffic (as of 9:30 am on Nov 21), it takes 45 mins on King St, and 43 mins on Red Hill/Linc. Not much difference, even in the world of "Just In Time" delivery. Again, this is just Google’s "Guestimate", and of course we would have to do an actual test drive at different times during the day, but the point is if these numbers are correct in the real world, it may add more support to the claim that the highway ring network is just as efficient in moving traffic from the industrial area of the city, and there is no need to travel through the city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 11:30:51 in reply to Comment 83085

And keep in mind, trucks are banned on King from Wellington to Bay...so the detour up to Cannon would add time to their cross-town trip.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:20:10 in reply to Comment 83085

The difference is fault-tolerance. A bad accident happens in Oakville at rush-hour and suddenly the entire 403/QEW network just completely stops. And then you're stuck waiting half an hour to get to the next ramp before you can start to limp through Burlington.

Cannon and Main? Even at their worst (when there's a major event at the convention centre or Copps that starts at 9AM), they're still just a few extra minutes.

I'm really not surprised that drivers prefer going through town to taking our brittle expressway system.

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By The X Guy (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 09:53:30

ooops, sorry posted this twice. Ryan please delete the 2nd post, thanks

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:06:58 in reply to Comment 83087

Done. Thanks for sharing.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted November 21, 2012 at 18:18:05

And maybe even post the speed limit as 40km/h next to Central Elementary School on Bay.

You know, like most every other elementary school in the city.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2012 at 12:02:43 in reply to Comment 83101

The BOE has presumably overlooked it. I'm sure it'll be sold off shortly.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2012 at 10:27:55 in reply to Comment 83101

Oh. I forgot there was a school there. That means that even if bay did go two way, they'd keep the stretch along central one-way because reasons. Still, at least that's in a neighbourhood where detouring around the 1-way wouldn't be too hard.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2012 at 11:01:42 in reply to Comment 83114

is there a rule that streets need to be one-way past schools?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2012 at 12:47:55 in reply to Comment 83115

There shouldn't be, but City Hall and the Board seem to have decided there is for pick-up/drop-offs. Somehow, every other city in Ontario manages just fine without this rule.

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By emerg (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2012 at 10:06:32

Bay needs to be two-way. As it is now - the Ambulances jolt over to James St. North to get to their destination through a residential area. Making Bay not only makes it friendlier for all - it also creates a better way for Emergency vehicles to get where they are going without being re-routed.

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By mainstreet (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2012 at 20:35:32

As a motorist,may I suggest that a couple of those bump out curbs on King st. and especially the one on front of the old tivoly site on James create a pinch point between cars and bikes.Could those be retracted about four feet inwards?Cost to do this would be minimal compared to the hazard they inadvertantly create.Does anyone else believe that a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation between motorists and bikes and e-bikes might go a long way toward safer streets,after all none of us are going away any time soon so lets all get along.Thank you

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 25, 2012 at 19:11:20

http://www.completestreetsforcanada.ca/case_study/city-mississauga

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted November 26, 2012 at 19:09:45

If you're unable to attend, the ever-excelllent Joey Coleman is livestreaming the meeting.

https://t.co/uoZrkugD

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2012 at 23:28:01

My favourite moment was from Mr. George Sorbara, the lone, brave, angry voice of dissent. He described the negative effect of two-way traffic on James Street North businesses, naming several which he alleges have lost custom since the two-way reversion.

And every time I go on James Street ... it takes me forever to get up that street. ... I haven't gone to MIller's in two or three years now. I go to the one on the mountain now ...

... and why does he drive an extra twenty minutes to save maybe two or three minutes on James North?

.. because it's so busy now, there's no parking.

And there, in his passionate anger, he states the truth he refuses to acknowledge: James Street North is just plain busier: more people, more parked cars, more shops, more customers.

I mention this not to make fun of Mr. Sorbara, but because I believe that he is typical of many of the opponents of the reversion to two-way streets: he's seeing the improved situation on James North, but can't allow himself to accept that it actually is better.

So we need to help him realize just what he is seeing and why it's better than what we had.

Comment edited by moylek on 2012-11-26 23:34:45

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 13:58:26 in reply to Comment 83234

To be fair, I go to the one on the mountain too... because the prices there are better.

Which, in turn, implies that the lower-city location is doing so well that they're able to demand high prices from their clientele without losing them.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 06:54:41 in reply to Comment 83234

Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded.

— Yogi Berra

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By julie (registered) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 09:56:21 in reply to Comment 83237

Just wanted to say that I was quite impressed with your response to Sorbarra, Ryan. Calm, reasonable, on-point, respectful. It was lovely to listen to.

I know what Sorbarra means, though. And he is right in a sense. In some ways, for some people, James Street is worse. It did used to be easy to get parking right outside wherever you were going. Since parking on both sides of the street was available to you, you just needed to change sides, signal for the cars to go around you (which they did easily) and wait for the rush to die with the traffic light change before reversing into the spot.

Also, given that there were fewer coffee shops, restaurants, and businesses, if you had a particular place in mind, there wasn't as much competition for the spots.

So in that sense, James Street is worse and Sorbarra is right. Of course, in every other sense, and even in some of those same senses, it's better. More places to go to and slower traffic so you don't need to worry about getting rear-ended by racing traffic as you try to park. Even Sorbarra acknowledged that he really enjoys the art crawl stuff.

I'm sure that in a one-on-one conversation with the fellow, you could very easily convince him that he is just being nostalgic and that he actually prefers the new state of things already.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:35:35 in reply to Comment 83251

This ease of finding street parking requires a much higher vacancy rate in the storefronts. Of course it's easier to find street parking when 50% of the stores are boarded up. Is this really "better"?

One-way die-hards scream about taxes and costs. But the only way to lower taxes is to have more businesses and more residents paying into the coffers.

More residents and more businesses by definition means we need to account for more modes of transport and we need to accept that more traffic - foot traffic, car traffic and bike traffic alike - is a consequence of a city's success.

Lower taxes AND fewer people is simply not possible. Ya can't have it both ways.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-11-27 12:36:21

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:41:12 in reply to Comment 83259

This ease of finding street parking requires a much higher vacancy rate in the storefronts.

You can also achieve it with market-based pricing. Price parking to ensure 15% vacancy and people who are prepared to pay to park will be able to find a spot. This actually works quite well on Locke Street now. I rarely drive there but on occasions when I need to stop on my way somewhere else, it's always possible to find a spot.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 13:52:45 in reply to Comment 83261

Which is why the "free parking on weekends" thing is bone-headed. I want a meter downtown, not those lots that demand like $3 for an hour stay.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 01:26:44

I wonder what the outcome could possibly be. A series of presentations by a group of biased individuals who all have nary a grain of common sense among them. An outcry or a demand for less cars and more transit and bike lanes and sidewalks and green space and trees and flowers. The fact that the vast majority of the citizens use cars for their primary mode of transport will be ignored. They don't care about the majority, the taxpayers who fund this city. All they care about is their own perverted sense of reality. The fact that they are in the minority and are making life more difficult for the majority has absolutely no baring on anything in their ridiculous sense of priorities. I am truly afraid.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:32:23 in reply to Comment 83236

You were welcome to bring your "majority" to the meeting and state your opinions.

Once again, we see 99% of the citizens who are actually engaged taking the side of the argument with the best evidence.

But the councillors bend to the 1% of loudmouth people who call them up and cry about the sky falling.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2012 at 08:45:48 in reply to Comment 83258

Like most other things in life the people attracted to something like this are the malcontents and unemployed who have nothing better to do with their time. The vast majority of us are either working or dealing with a very busy schedule.

Just look at Toronto. The majority voted Ford into office. Since then it has been a constant stream of nonsense from left leaning politicians getting in his way. The public has stated they want him to make changes yet some of these numbsculls decide that they will push their own agenda. The latest stupidty of taking him to court over $3,200 he helped raise is the pinnacle of nonsense. The majority speaks and others wish to ignore it and push their own agenda. Just like you.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2012 at 09:35:15 in reply to Comment 83278

You're like the guy who got mad at me for being "in his way" on my bike, and yelled out his window something about how poor I was. Meanwhile the bike I was riding was worth more than his rusted out car - not that the value of your vehicle means a damned thing when we are sharing the same road.

What I'm trying to say is if you are looking for malcontents wishing to push an "agenda", you should start with a mirror.

The difference between my agenda and yours is that mine is about creating a better city throughout every ward. Yours is about getting to work faster.

Do you realize that a successful downtown will lower your taxes even if you don't live in Ward 2?

Do you think our downtown is successful now?

Do you support lower taxes?

These are honest questions.

Why don't you register a real name and tell us a little bit about yourself? People might take you more seriously. Or at least come out to the next complete streets meeting and present your research on the benefits of one way highways.

75 of us rushed to city hall after work (and skipped dinner) to be a part of our city's positive growth. Where were you?

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2012 at 07:26:36 in reply to Comment 83280

If you hate the neighbourhood you live in so much why oh why do you live their? Why would you move their in the first place? If I hated any place that much I certainly would not move their nor would most reasonable people.

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2012 at 07:46:34 in reply to Comment 83323

Seancb never said anywhere that he hates his neighbourhood, though you sure seem to hate it since you keep making time in your "very busy schedule" to argue with people who are trying to make downtown better, even while you brag about not living there. Just so you know, you're arguing with a business owner not an "unemployed malcontent". If he'd listened to the squelching from the likes of you he never would of decided to open a commuter bike store downtown that markets to people who live there by choice. He never would of been so successful that he needed to move to a bigger location (on a two way street). The city is changing, downtown is changing for the better and you will be left scratching your head wondering what happened, meanwhile it's staring you in the face but your too close minded to see it.

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2012 at 09:12:38 in reply to Comment 83278

That's funny. The only malcontent around here is you, the guy who lives on a two way street in a nice neighborhood and begrudges other people wanting the same thing if it even has a chance of slightly inconveniencing you.

In Toronto the voters made a mistake electing Rob Ford and they realize it. By summer he didn't have even 50% approval in any ward of the city, not even his own ward where he had only 33%. This week a poll found 58% in Toronto agreed with him being kicked out of office for breaking conflict of interest rules.

Like you, Ford believes he shouldn't have to be accountable to other people or accommodate their needs. Sometimes people fall for a "common sense" pitch that is simple and wrong, but sooner or later they always wise up.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:39:06

Here's my take on the meeting. Hopefully this is a good start to some actual progress. I just wish the spectator would be a champion for this city rather than trying to poke people in the eye and start fights:

http://www.bikehounds.ca/2012/11/some-th...

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