This call to action on complete streets, bike lanes, parking lots, parking rates and LRT from a senior member of Council should not go unheeded.
By Craig Burley
Published March 17, 2017
Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead recently wrote a provocative piece for the Hamilton Mountain News entitled "A call to action for all Hamilton residents".
In it he makes a number of highly controversial and as-yet-unfounded claims regarding a group of Hamilton "ideologues" seeking "disproportionate influence" over senior staff and council decisions.
The means of this influence, and the identity of these unnamed "ideologues" are as yet a mystery. Whitehead proposed to "lift the veil" but has not yet chosen to do so. I have encouraged him, and encourage him again here, to find the courage to do so. Undue influence over staff and politicians is a serious matter and should be investigated by the appropriate authorities.
Obviously, these charges are very serious, but they have managed until now to completely overshadow the main thrust of the Councillor's piece, which is that residents of Hamilton must contact their councillors to make sure their voices are heard on a constellation of land use and transportation issues.
Councillor Whitehead names five such issues: road diets, bike lanes, parking lots, parking rates, and LRT.
I agree wholeheartedly that these are critical issues for citizens to make their voices known and heard by those who serve on Council.
Our overgrown and under-used road network is expensive to maintain and contributes to poor service and our sky-high infrastructure deficit. Marked and, where possible, separated bike lanes ensure greater safety for all road users, especially for those who cycle.
The very large number of parking lots in Hamilton, and our low cost of municipal parking, makes more intensive land use in our commercial hubs difficult.
LRT, as we all know, represents a massive provincial investment into our city's transit system, is itself a significant jobs program benefiting the city's devastated economy, and an infrastructure spend that would be extremely difficult for Hamilton to fund on its own.
What's more, I know you probably agree with me.
Councillor Whitehead is right. Councillors need to hear from their constituents, and from citizens across the city of which those councillors constitute the board of directors. They are there at Council to represent your interests. Let them know in no uncertain terms what those interests are!
I encourage you all to contact your councillor specifically, and indeed all the councillors including the Mayor, with your view on any or all of these issues. Please tell them that Terry Whitehead sent you, and that you're responding to his concerns that the citizenry's voice is not being heard enough.
Don't worry about your eloquence. Just let them know where you stand, whether it be on LRT, on complete-streets road safety for all, on bike lanes, or on anything else city-oriented on your mind.
I wish you all peace and good fortune. Please reach out and make that call, and write that email. This call to action, from a senior member of Council, should not go unheeded.
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