Revitalization

Share Your Ideas on Creating Pedestrian Spaces in Hamilton

By Jason Leach
Published August 20, 2009

As a follow up to my recent blog entry highlighting some of the great initiatives being implemented in New York City, I got thinking about similar events and how they could be implemented here in Hamilton.

I thought of the logical location for a permanent closure in Gore Park and south leg of King which would allow for patio space, buskers, markets - even a children's carousel.

Our kids beg us to hit Gore Park every Christmas when the merry go round is installed. A permanent one would seem to be a no-brainer in attracting families downtown. (Watch for a future RTH entry on the ongoing plans being developed by the city for the redevelopment of Gore Park. Some interesting and scary ideas are being floated all at once).

A Summer Streets series similar to that in NYC could include closing the redeveloped York Blvd and James St from York to Gore Park. A ciclovia type of event could be developed along James Street from the waterfront to Gore Park with east/west access only maintained at Burlington, Barton and Cannon Streets.

A further extension of ciclovia would be logical along King Street, perhaps from Ferguson Avenue and it's north/south bike path to Victoria Park. Imagine two-way LRT on King someday. The auto lanes could be closed to vehicles on Saturdays but the LRT allowed to continue down the middle of the street.

Perhaps connecting downtown neighbourhoods with the Gore, Market and waterfront would be a good strategy for a cycling series in Hamilton. Corktown Park via Ferguson Avenue connecting to the Gore, Market, Victoria Park and West Harbour.

The potential is endless.

The purpose of this follow-up blog entry, however, is to get your ideas! There are a lot of passionate RTH readers who care about Hamilton and see the potential for us be a vibrant, livable city that is the envy of others across Canada.

Fire away! We want your ideas and concepts on developing pedestrian zones, ciclovia events and safer streets in Hamilton.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

39 Comments

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted August 21, 2009 at 14:29:50

I think before the City needs to worry about creating MORE ped/public spaces in the city, it should consider better use of the ones it has. Like you suggested, Jason, Gore could be so much more than a bus mall. I work in Toronto up by Yonge and St. Clair and I'm blown away almost every day by how much use the parks up here get. Even not counting the office-folk walking around on their lunches, you see plenty of folk using the parks for soccer, runners everywhere, and tons of kids using clean, welcoming-looking facilities.

I wish I could say the same for Hamilton's downtown parks, which seem run-down by comparison. Even parks that are very busy, like McLaren park, up the street from where I live on John St., are not always the most inviting places--garbage piles up in bins and spills all over the grass and into the splash pad; groups of young people hang around picnic tables smoking all day, and if that weren't itself intimidating, the mess of butts and garbage they leave behind is still nasty. This only adds to the ambience that is John St. N.: decaying parking lots; trash collecting in gutters; poorly maintained homes, and piles of garbage on sidewalks left by recently moved-out tenants or their landlords.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 21, 2009 at 17:19:42

your point is well taken in regards to Maclaren Park and even the Gore in it's current bus-terminal state, but I must say that I'm always impressed by the level of activity in downtown area parks such as Victoria Park, Dundurn Park, Bayfront/Pier 4 parks, the HAAA grounds and Corktown Park and am equally impressed by the level of maintenance by the city in those parks and even lesser used ones such as Durand Park and Shamrock Park. Maclaren is better than it used to be, but I think our streets need an infusion of people and life. Our parks are doing quite well in this regard.

Now, let's get the ideas flying here! I thought this entry would garner more action in it's first day than one reply. Lol. Don't wait for local trolls to drive you nuts before replying. Let's keep this blog entry constructive and full of great ideas right from the start.

Borrelli, thanks for the comments and observations. You're bang on in wishing that we could bring some of that Toronto vibrancy to the Hammer.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 21, 2009 at 21:00:32

Jason, how would closing streets off to traffic increase the net happiness for the people of Hamilton? In particular, what factors did you measure to come up with this insight? Furthermore, if not profits, what metric do you use to measure the demand for this product rather what the streets are used for currently?

Real businesses need to produce profits in order to access resources, why should your ideas be any different? Lastly, do you think it's a good idea to allocate resources without having measurable feedback as to how much your product was valued. Is it wise to invest $5 only to get $4 in benefits?

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 21, 2009 at 22:58:58

Based on A Smith's comment above, we would never, ever consider closing down city streets so kids could have a Santa Claus parade. What the streets are currently used for (apparantly, profit-making business) is more important.

Thank you A Smith for your wonderful suggestions on how to make Hamilton a more profit filled, fun-free place. I guess us left-wing loonies had better go back to our slave pods now.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 21, 2009 at 23:53:43

For constructive things...why not borrow a couple of cool ideas that your neighbours in Burlington are doing downtown. Imagine setting up a big movie screen and showing movies downtown in the Gore.

Or a Children's Festival, with entertainers and cartoon characters, the aformentioned caurosel, a bounce house set up on the street, and treats for the little ones?

When York is redone, it will be an excellent place for expanded market stalls, buskers, liquid refreshment tents and street vendors to bring a party atmosphere to the area, with different themes each week. Why not close it down to traffic (or only 1 lane each way) every Saturday.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2009 at 03:05:04

arienc >> Based on A Smith's comment above, we would never, ever consider closing down city streets so kids could have a Santa Claus parade.

If the Santa Claus parade is a popular event, then I can easily imagine corporate sponsors lining up to underwrite it as a part of their advertising budget. If it only has a small following in the community, what would be the rationale for blocking city streets?

>> how to make Hamilton a more profit filled, fun-free place.

Which is a better idea, producing "x+ happiness" while using x in resources, or producing "x- happiness" using x in resources? Keep in mind that society only ever has a limited resource base to produce happiness, so does it make sense to waste resources on activities that produce "x- in happiness"? If so, why?

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 22, 2009 at 08:09:27

I prefer x+$5=$4 myself.

Arienc, I'm with you on the family-friendly activities. There's hardly any in downtown Hamilton at the moment. The Gore Park Music festival was good until they decided to move it out of the Gore (that BIA is so inept) and into a gravel parking lot....of course it was soon cancelled.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2009 at 15:33:47

Jason, I'm glad you finally admit that you don't have a problem when government wastes taxpayer money. All of that anti-sprawl nonsense, where you rally against money being wasted was nothing more than billsh!t. You don't have a problem with new suburban developments because they waste money (even though these developments produce more in tax revenue than the old city), you just don't like them because you like to tell others how they should live their life.

How does it feel to be a complete lying fraud? No guilt pangs, no guilty conscience? Really?

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By Left-Wing Nut (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2009 at 22:09:39

I was reading this comment thread and I feel I have to add my two cents!!

A Smith > With respect urban sprawl, in my humble opinion the important thing to consider is not whether sprawl simply increases the tax base, but how its fairs when you compare this tax base increase to the whole host of issues it causes like:

* the cost of additional services that need to be built (new roads, new schools, new transit lines, new pipes, etc....)
* the environmental impact (something that cannot be easily calculated with a simple formula) of building low-density development that is designed to cater to people who drive to every place they frequent other than home (in some locations, you cannot even feasibly walk to a convenience store for bare essentials!!)
* the long-term impact of losing some of our region's most fertile farmland

I also want to note that not all things in life (especially things related to the human experience, such as happiness) can be measured in dollars or calculated with a formula. For instance, an afternoon in the park with a loved one can bring me immense joy, yet I don't have to spend a penny. Perhaps you see this as me freeloading off of the system as I don't have to pay a penny to enjoy a park even though taxpayers have to pay for its creation and maintenance.

Paul

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 00:10:10

Left-Wing Nut >> an afternoon in the park with a loved one can bring me immense joy, yet I don't have to spend a penny.

But someone does. Therefore, while you may benefit personally from having the government force people to pay for things that you enjoy, is that a moral thing to do? Is it moral to benefit from the proceeds of theft, even if that theft is condoned by the majority will of the electorate?

Are there no higher laws than that of the government? What if the government said it was alright to loot from rich people's houses, would that make it moral? If you don't think so, what is the difference between that and what the government does through income taxes?

My advice to you LWN is to give back in equal proportions for the things that you receive. If you benefit $20 worth from using that park, give $20 dollars back to the city...

Luke 6:31 "As you would like people to do to you, do exactly so to them.

Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you."

Resources are never in short supply for those who live in faith, only those who live in fear.

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By tcr (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 01:36:32

How foolish A Smith, since you obviously live in faith (I can't imagine why) you should know that you are to fear god. Maybe that is why you lack the resources to put forth a decent argument most of the time.

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By Scorby (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 09:10:45

A Smith's suggestions are interesting. It's as though the subject of discussion is solely products and profits, and how they create happiness. Successful local businesses certainly add to a city's attractiveness, but business is not the only component of an attractive, rewarding, and happy city.

Social interaction and a sense of community are not products, but they occur when people are present in an area. Tax money spent on providing spaces and activities encourage people to gather. People require the products and services that businesses provide. Businesses then grow and in turn add more attraction to their area.

Public investment and business growth need to co-evolve. A city can't have one without the other. That is, unless an ideal city is full of only drive-thrus and walmarts.

What the streets are currently used for can't be regarded as profitable or happiness inducing for the whole of the human population of the city. Hamilton's downtown is not exactly the thriving hub of activity that it could be.

It's important to hear of the values of A Smith because they are exactly what counters the advancement of civilization in our region. The big question is how can such ingrained capitalist ideals be redirected to support a more compassionate sharing society, rather than having to measure every interaction as an individual's financial investment.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 09:21:19

Yes, tcr...a somewhat warped sense of morals that expects compensation for providing the joy of an afternoon in the park.

Ecclesiasties 5 v. 10-11: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them; and what gain has their owner but to see them with his eyes?"

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 09:45:03

was in the Annex neighbourhood in TO yesterday for the first time.
Yet again that city amazes me.

What folks like ASmith, the Spec and virtually every politician to be elected in Hamilton over the past 30 years fails to realize is that pedestrian friendly, community-oriented, friendly neighbourhood streets are FAR more successful and loaded with businesses compared to our one-way freeways.

The common refrain among the political elite in Hamilton is that they are 'business friendly' and rest of us aren't when we complain of more farmland or industrial land being converted to another Walmart.

I defy ASmith, Larry DiIanni, Lloyd Ferguson, John Dolbec et all, to travel to the Annex, the Beaches, Danforth Ave etc..... and tell me with a straight face that those neighbourhoods are hostile to business and are business-unfriendly due to the one lane of vehicle traffic each way, lack of surface parking, transit with the right of way (or at least the ability to stop all vehicles when loading/unloading) and mobs of people, cyclists and slow moving traffic.

If they honestly believe that Main/York/Cannon/Wilson/King Streets in Hamilton are more friendly to business than those streets, then Hamilton has absolutely zero hope for the future.

I would bulldoze all of the aforementioned streets in Hamilton in a heartbeat if I could replace them with the aforementioned streets in Toronto. And any so-called capitalist, or 'business-friendly' type would have no choice but to agree with me if a vibrant, successful business climate, and the exchange of dollars and cents is the true benchmark by which they make decisions.

The elite in Hamilton know this full-well, and they know that Hamilton's economy and business climate has SUCKED for decades BECAUSE of them. Not us. Ideas put forth here on RTH, if implemented across the lower city, would result in such a boom in the business, retail, construction, hotel, entertainment sectors we wouldn't be able to keep up with it.

Instead we are looking for ways to add parking lots to Locke Street, speed up traffic on James and John for fear that the two-way conversion might be too successful and building Walmarts from here to kingdom come, while streets like Parkdale, Kenilworth, Barton, King, Dundurn etc... sit and rot (all with the identical building style and building stock as you'll find on Queen, College, the Annex, Beaches etc... ). Hamilton and Toronto's main streets are virtually identical in appearance and architecture. The one difference? Their streets are full of people (shoppers) and their buildings are full of businesses (capitalism). Ours streets are full of cars and our buildings are covered in plywood.

WAKE UP HAMILTON and stop electing the old boys club to power!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 17:54:09

tcr >> you should know that you are to fear god.

Having a fear of God is a fantastic thing, because it frees people to do the right thing. Whereas this world can only kill your body, God can do much, much worse.

Scorby >> It's as though the subject of discussion is solely products and profits, and how they create happiness.

Profits don't create happiness (except maybe for business owners), they are the result of happiness. If businesses DON'T make their customers happy, they won't make any profits.

>> Tax money spent on providing spaces and activities encourage people to gather

If people value spaces where they be amongst other people, they will pay to go there. That's why people go to bars, restaurants, concerts, sports games, or even a house party. Furthermore, none of these require taxpayer subsidies.

>> What the streets are currently used for can't be regarded as profitable

I agree 100%, that's why I'm in favour of charging people to use them. If there was more demand to use the streets as gathering spaces, rather than as traditional roads, Jason's vision would win the day.

>> how can such ingrained capitalist ideals be redirected to support a more compassionate sharing society

Easy, donate some of your income to not for profit events/activities. If enough people in Hamilton do this, there will be plenty of FREE stuff that people in Hamilton can enjoy.

arienc >> a somewhat warped sense of morals that expects compensation for providing the joy of an afternoon in the park.

Do you expect compensation from your employer? If so, why are your morals so warped? Why don't you work for free?

As for ...Ecclesiasties 5 v. 10-11:...I agree that loving money is a fool's game. But that is not an excuse for you to steal other people's money. If you think that rich people are going to hell because they are selfish, you may be right, but it's not your job to punish them by taking it away from them. That is theft and it is equally as wrong.

Jason >> pedestrian friendly, community-oriented, friendly neighbourhood streets are FAR more successful and loaded with businesses compared to our one-way freeways.

If that's the case, then you should be in favour of selling off the roads to the private sector.

>> The common refrain among the political elite in Hamilton is that they are 'business friendly' and rest of us aren't when we complain of more farmland or industrial land being converted to another Walmart.

How can you be considered business friendly when you want to use government to block businesses (farmers) from making money?

>> The elite in Hamilton know this full-well, and they know that Hamilton's economy and business climate has SUCKED for decades BECAUSE of them.

The only way to increase the role of the private sector is to shrink the role of the government. The only way to do this is to limit government spending to less than local economic growth. Currently, Hamilton has a crappy private sector because it relies on government jobs for the backbone of its economy, primarily public health-care.

Having a not-for-profit as the backbone of your economy does not encourage innovation, competition, nor entrepreneurial spirit. A better idea would be to reduce tax rates across the board, turn away government freebies and let this once Ambitious City regain it's competitive edge.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2009 at 22:43:45

or you can do what we do on James North and put our own benches and flowers out to encourage folks to use the sidewalks and interact with their neighbours.

Downtown has its share of problems - but less-than-creative businesses and anonymous posters complaining about it aren't going to solve them.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 23, 2009 at 22:49:26

I walk through it almost every day, and the International Village area the previous poster mentioned is an interesting case. because you see the direct benefits of streetscaping and pedestrian-friendliness - even in the third-poorest neighbourhood in Canada. Several businesses wouldn't be there if not for it becoming pedestrian-friendly. Even Ferguson Station gets use for the Maker's Market.

He is also correct that, on the flipside, you have some very specific problems simply because no matter what you do, the local residents are still, by and large, extremely poor and stuck in subsidized buildings or awful highrises no one with a choice would live in. No matter what, those underlying problems come through. (Although I also know one professional who rents a pristine apartment for $1500/month on King in the IV - my jaw dropped when I walked inside her place - there are some beautiful places there, that is the definite minority).

Things I would like to see: - Recycling bins, not just trash cans, all through downtown instead of a few select spots.

  • Patterned crosswalks (like near Mac) + three or so scramble intersections

  • Better characterization of each neigbhourhood or area, using distinctive features and repeated elements - e.g. the lights, the bins, the sidewalk detail, the lettering on signs.

  • I'm surprised at how few signs/kiosks I see in Hamilton with any information about the city or what was in the area. Granted, they would need continual upkeep from vandalism (even the signs at the Dundurn Stairs for the trail are continually defaced) but upon moving here a couple years ago I was surprised that there were none downtown.

  • The same type of idea, but for art throughout a neighbourhood (lit, locked, secure displays, five or six through an area) encouraging people to explore a particular place- would also need upkeep.

Or even a big clear enclosed box/stage at the center of a plaza, that could function as a gallery to hang paintings art, a "room" to hold moving/robotic art, or even live performers (acrobats? dance? mime? who knows...) from time to time.

  • Gore Park needs some permanent street vendors and other draws (and how about a nice coffee shop?) to make pedestrian conversion successful on an ongoing basis, not just for events.

  • Take our city's love affair with Tim's and get a franchisee to put one at the center of a former dead parking lot... but only if its an "urban format" tiny kiosk with a walkthrough window, and on the three other sides it's information, public washrooms, drinking fountain, etc. No car access, baking facilities offsite. Then landscape the heck out of the lot, make it a pedestrian-heaven plaza so the people who walk through to Tim's will stop there (Then later on, add kiosks on either side for other places and convert the Tim's to something else ;))

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 23, 2009 at 22:57:10

The last one's a little bit of tongue-in-cheek desperation, to be clear ;) Is that really what it will take in this city?

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By Really? (registered) | Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:39:32

Hughson Street - Pesdestrian & TRANSITway!

When the A-Line becomes full-use, I suggest using Hughson between Wilson & Hunter as a Transitway (for either BRT or LRT-only), with improved Pedestrian access (ie: climate-covers, art, benches, trees, etc).

Since James is often very busy in this area --and Hughson rediculously underused--, this would be a perfect area for LRT or BRT to have Right Of Way (ROW) while allowing pedestrians to keep the street activity alive. That stupid plaza @ James/Wilson can be easily reconfigured to make a Square-like LRT Stn (similar to Mineapolis' Metro Dome Stn - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co...

Once the A-Line reaches Hunter (TH&B GO), it would then turn East in it's own ROW lanes (as Hunter is also rediculously underused) along Hunter to the Clairmont Access and UP!

EVERYBODY WINS! Drivers along James, RAPID Rapid Transit in an Urban setting; Not to mention easy Transit Connections to Mountain Buses (quick walk thru Gore Park to McNab Terminal), B-Line @ Gore Park'ish area, GO @ James North Stn & TH&B (as well as Greyhound & Coach Can)

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By Really? (registered) | Posted August 24, 2009 at 15:24:01

ALSO...

I was in Toronto on the Weekend, walking up Yonge St, and saw a hoard of people in Dundas Square. This came as a shock to me, as I'm used to seeing an almost-empty Dundas Square (aka Times Square Jr; intersection Yonge & Dundas for those who aren't familiar).

What would bring people into Dundas Square besides the usual B-Boys by the subway entrance? A Giant Film Screening --much like Arienc has suggested! I had never seen Dundas Square so busy! It's usually a ghost-town, with all the activity happening across the street (infront of Eaton Ctr/Dundas Mall).

So in terms of Gore Park; it needs: More Coffee Pub-type shops (Everyone misses Infussions) *More Patios that actually get used (I'm looking at your, Finger's!) *More EVENTS (Movie Screenings, 'World Texting Championships', 'Corporate Olympics' to get the Suits into the Park, B-Boy Shows, etc.) *More Ped-friendly shops in general (a lawyer's office just aint going to generate the foot-traffic needed to keep Gore a viable ped-zone) such as Sugar Mountain Candy Stores, maybe a Sobeys Express, Pain D'Oré bakery, etc. *A way to get rid of the drug dealers @ Hughson St (those cams don't work when the dealers leave the area do to the actual 'deal') A Connection between the A-Line, B-Line, TH&B GO Ctr & McNab Transit Terminal (such as a pedestrianized Hughson St with plenty of Way-Finding tools)*

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2009 at 17:17:50

Dundas Square is still evolving as a Public Square. Many people said they hated when it went in. Others found there was nothing to do when they got there. The idea of it being a place to just 'hang out' never took off because, well, it's not really a good place to just hang out.

I was one of those who hated it (too many TVs not enough trees) but it appears to be weaving it's way into the fabric of the city now, and for the better. Once they shut off the cars for good - probably a few years away - it should improve even more.

Gore Park has always been a no-brainer as a public space. It will evolve in a different way though. How to deal with all those 'undesirables'? How to get more folks to come downtown. What attractions to put in place. None of this can be done all at once. The park will need to evolve. Hopefully the first steps will be taken soon to make this a people's plaza.

My own vision for Gore is something closer to a European Plaza - this would be quite unique, at least outside of Montreal. The European architecture would nicely compliment rows and rows of outdoor patios, aproned waiters running around with not a car in sight. This in turn would spur revitilazation of other downtown assets like condo development etc.

Other towns would kill for a gem like Gore Park Plaza.

Cheers

Ben

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2009 at 21:01:50

Dave Kuruc >> or you can do what we do on James North and put our own benches and flowers out to encourage folks to use the sidewalks and interact with their neighbours.

Dave, the big difference between what you are doing and what the city is doing comes down to right and wrong. Your benches are paid for from your own hard work, while city benches are paid for by theft and coercion. Therefore, no matter what nice things the government tries to do for people of Hamilton, they can't change the fact that the genesis of it all, is violence.

Merideth >> Things I would like to see: ...

How do you propose to pay for all of these things?

Rusty >> How to get more folks to come downtown. What attractions to put in place.

People will come downtown as soon as the government gets out of the way. Downtown Hamilton receives more taxpayer money than any area of the city and all it has done is to drive real wealth creating activities far, far away. If you really want to plant the seeds of success for downtown Hamilton, these seeds must be able to grow good fruit...

Luke 6:45 (King James Version)

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

As long as Hamilton insists on taking money that comes from theft it will not produce good fruit...

Luke 6:43 (King James Version)

43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2009 at 23:29:19

....and yet again, "a text without a context becomes a pretext for a prooftext."

Extrapolating Jesus' words about the source of individual actions (with significant Old Testment background, especially in Proverbs) and using that to demonstrate how a city may achieve success is deviating rather far from either an accurate exegesis of the original text or quality hermeneutics in one's application.

Back on track with pedestrian spaces...

Space isn't enough by itself. There needs to be (an) attraction/s strong enough to overcome people's initial aversion to being in an unfamiliar space or around people they may not typically rub shoulders with.

Space is great, but alone... it's just space. You also want activity, vibe, atmosphere, usability, function, buzz, beauty.... and creating this is so event-based, especially to start. We can do everything possible to widen sidewalks, create good sightlines, landscape, slow traffic, put in great seating, and make a downtown attractive as possible. Gore Park is already a decent pedestrian space.

However, people won't automatically start coming to those spaces until there's a reason to go there for the first, second, third time (usually an event) -- and something to keep them coming back (whether that the space is nice, a retail or other draw nearby, recurring events, etc).

And it's compounded by the fact that when you have made attractive, free space - and a city as ours with a huge amount of unemployed/underemployed/"tax-free-self-employed" individuals without money to spend, they take advantage of these places. And that's fine. That's part of their use. They're public spaces. Everyone has just as much right to them, and besides curtailing illegal activity, no one should try to limit people.

Uncomfortably, however, that will indisputably scare other people away - people whose disposable income perimeter businesses/attrations/events need as well to continue these spaces being economically viable. So unless you have special-interest events, niche things that attract people for particular purposes and a different crowd than who will fill these places by default and/or a crowd who will come for an event no matter who else is there, you're going to have a hard time getting around that.

Hamilton is a real city with real people, not a perfect world. I'm talking about human nature and the realities we deal with here.

I do like seeing so many pieces being put forth here though, it's all part of the big picture.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 00:58:27

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 Sick of your crap (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 08:07:38

A Smith, is it moral that you just won't shut the #^@*! up with your endless crazyass blather?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 10:22:57

Meredith wrote:

Extrapolating Jesus' words about the source of individual actions (with significant Old Testment background, especially in Proverbs) and using that to demonstrate how a city may achieve success is deviating rather far from either an accurate exegesis of the original text or quality hermeneutics in one's application.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 12:53:43

Is this the crap they're teaching you in that hippy church of yours? ;)

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 14:04:38

Ryan, Meredith, SOYC, I will try this once again. Is it moral to condone theft in order to promote your vision of a successful downtown? Yes, or no? Either you think it's alright to benefit from money taken from people against their will or you don't. Which is it?

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2009 at 14:30:41

A Smith, you equate taxes with theft.

that is a viewpoint that does not connect well with many others on this site, or in this world.

that is why no one is answering your question.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 14:46:48

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 Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2009 at 15:01:38

Even Paul successfully leveraged the Roman citizenship he possessed to his advantage on multiple occasions. It sure wasn't wrong for him to benefit from it.

The New Testament repeatedly urges submission to the governing authorities. Jesus himself paid the tax... and remember the good ol' "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" line?

If all that was done with the bloody, corrupt, decadent, violent, prejudiced and incredibly unjust Roman Empire (their taxation alone was far worse than ours)... then yep, I'm more than thrilled with paying my taxes and benefiting from what we have. It doesn't mean I don't work to better it, but there is nothing wrong in abiding by and benefiting from a system, and it's even specifically condoned on multiple occasions by Scripture.

We don't live in ancient, pre-monarchy Israel.

I'm not discussing historicity issues any further, since this is about PEDESTRIAN SPACES.

Oooh, unless we're discussing other uses for Copps Coliseum more in keeping with the Romans... we could make our entire downtown into a chariot track, or have "Gladiators at the Gore!". I'm guessing some pitch-covered human torches would really spice up some local government garden parties too.

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2009 at 15:03:46

A Smith >> "Taxes are a reflection of the human heart. When one does not believe that God will provide, he turns to violence to get what he/she wants."

i believe one of the ways God provides is through the government. is your God too small to pull off a feat like this?

taxes ≠ theft.

your question ≠ valid.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 17:57:37

Meredith >> The New Testament repeatedly urges submission to the governing authorities.

But that is not what YOU are promoting, you are not telling RTH readers to pay more taxes to the government, you are asking for more handouts from the government. You are arguing for the complete opposite of what the New Testament is suggesting.

>> Jesus himself paid the tax... and remember the good ol' "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" line?

Mark 12:14-17 (New King James Version)

14 When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?"
But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it." 16 So they brought it.
And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's."
17 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
And they marveled at Him.

So this is what it comes down to, what does Caesar own and what does God own? If you believe that Caesar owns human beings, then anything that comes from human beings is his. If yo believe that God owns human beings, then anything that they produce is God's. Who do you think owns human beings, God, or Caesar?

>> there is nothing wrong in abiding by and benefiting from a system, and it's even specifically condoned on multiple occasions by Scripture.

Where in scripture does it condone petitioning government for free health care, education, welfare, public spaces, etc?

reuben >> i believe one of the ways God provides is through the government. is your God too small to pull off a feat like this?

What makes you think that God can't provide for you by relying on him solely, rather than through the government? However, if you truly believe that God will provide for you, you should have no problem giving away all of your money to charity today. If you have faith that God will provide for you, prove it to yourself by giving away all that you have.

If you can't do this, then you don't really have faith in God, but are simply rationalizing your desire to have free stuff from government. Only you know in your heart if your belief is in God, or not.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2009 at 18:24:40

I'm going to go against the grain here. I think the city should have kept the buses in Gore, but keep the cars out. The buses have been a huge source of human presence there. I have nothing in particular against the wayward folks that hang there. I've found that they won't bother you if you don't bother them. And they certainly aren't out to hurt people's kids. But the buses have been a big source of "normal" working people in the Gore. In fact many of the "druggies" are just workers or students having a quick toke before the bus ride up the mountain.

I LOVE Victoria Park! It outshines McQuestin Park on the mountain any day of the week. But the core itself needs some green space. The city should commandeer/buy out one of the vacant lots and make a nice park right in the core.

Also, respect to all of the people who USE the public space in productive/reproductive ways. Big up the maker's market; the bicycle polo; Food Not Bombs; critical mass; the art crawl crowd; the buskers; awkward hockey; basketballers, soccer and baseball players. Oh yeah, and hackey sack (foot bag) is now being played every Sunday in the demolition parkette on King William - 2:00 pm. Where are the b-boys and b-girls these days?

Remember, it's not the space, but the social relations that take place in the space.

Now, my left-libertarian perspective on some of the problems discussed:

Let's be honest, taxes ARE a violent form of theft. But so is the exploitation and domination of workers in capitalist production/reproduction. In a free society (assuming there was still such a thing as money), people would voluntarily pay a portion of their wage as membership in a municipal commune. If money was abolished, they would collectively pool their voluntary labour to make benches, public squares, gardens etc. happen.

Why would they cooperate that way without carrots and sticks? Well the short answer is that human cooperation has never been as narrowly an instrumental, incentive-bound activity as people like A Smith claim. I would argue (and I think the anthropological record would back me up) that, given the right CULTURAL CONTEXT, voluntary cooperation can be as natural as breathing. The municipality - better yet, the neighbourhood - is a good place to start building that LIBERTARIAN (in the original sense) culture.

The long answer refers back to an earlier argument A Smith made:

"...how would closing streets off to traffic increase the net happiness for the people of Hamilton? In particular, what factors did you measure to come up with this insight? Furthermore, if not profits, what metric do you use to measure the demand for this product rather what the streets are used for currently?"

Crazy or not, this statement actually makes sense given the common assumption that use-value and exchange value are the same thing. They're not, even if most "mainstream" economics unifies them under "utility". Despite the tendency of capitalism to COMMODIFY EVERYTHING, most people still understand the basic, universally human use-value of walking in the park and would not want this experience monetized. Most people still understand the public use-value of PRODUCTIVE SOCIAL RELATIONS that good cities and towns make possible.

And, like many of the things A Smith suggests, REAL CAPITALISTS would not really want that. Public parks, education, efficient transportation and many other things - even public health care - increase the value and productivity of the LABOUR POWER that they need most efficiently. Commodifying this REPRODUCTION OF LABOUR POWER has been a real trend in neo-liberal capitalism. But I doubt it would reach the extreme of banning public parks. Not here at least.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 25, 2009 at 22:04:12

and perhaps one of the greatest news stories I've read in some time:

http://www.thespec.com/News/article/6245...

Not a moment too soon.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 26, 2009 at 00:28:30

Here's a few more things, mostly on the "event side" of creating pedestrian spaces.

There's several types of outdoor events involving animals possible, from the community pet shows (usually for children to show their knowledge of household pets, I loved these as a kid) to petting zoos for a limited time, reptile demonstrations, etc. Even do a live Nativity at Christmas and Humane Society adopt-a-thon days.

An oversized outdoor chessboard, not just the little tables in front of Mac's downtown campus, would be great in a couple places. (Again, one would need adequate management/maintenance/security)

For space around Ottawa Street, it would be great to see some local designers do an outdoor fashion show or two - sponsored by various groups from businesses to BIAs. Get Mohawk kids in there from fashion courses too to put together a collection.

(We've got to start using students in certain programs as resources... the suburbanites that come to Mac/Mohawk, with a few notable exceptions, have nothing on the city initiative and involvement I've seen in Toronto. They may have to be coaxed into things, but they have energy, creativity, skills... and TIME.)

Not to mention the outdoor theatre and musical uses of these spaces, which is really common. There's actually quite a few possibilities for that Liuna-concrete-pad thingie for small events. What if Skydragon did (and maybe they have) taken some of their music out there or sponsored/created events there? The acoustics might suck, but I can definitely picture a drum circle there.

I'd love to see some signs and information about the movies filmed in Hamilton and the locations clearly identified. I'd love to see a series of several different location plaques and a map or walking tour that connected them.

I also love seeing outdoor workshops and classes going on... I was going through Ancaster? (I think...) the other day and noticed people from the karate school going through stretches on top of a hill. Making space available for dance, art, athletics, knitting, whatever else workshops/demonstrations would be fantastic whether in a park or a square. Yoga on Jackson Square rooftop? Maybe...

Some things can be a bit more neighbourhood-targeted, like picnics and barbecues - there's already quite a few in some neighbourhoods.

An outdoors store (outdoors oriented, maybe?) used to take their kayaks and canoes to the water near Port Dalhousie once a year for people to try out - but also for people to just come and use if they wanted. I'm guessing a store or two in the area could use our waterfront for something similar, if they don't already. Having rental paddleboats/canoes/kayaks available on a seasonal basis would also be great.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 28, 2009 at 14:08:50

Today I stopped at al Centro just to get a coffee and sit outside, specifically because a jazz band was playing in Gore Park. Even with the wind, it was great.

If there wasn't a bus roaring by every three minutes, that experience would have been even better. I'm looking forward to more events like that after the closure to traffic.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 29, 2009 at 10:52:02

Meredith, one of these days I'll find some time to put together an RTH posting letting people know about some of the proposed changes to Gore Park.

Some of it is great, but some of it is clearly overthought and would do more to ruin the place, than enhance it.
Of course, having a Toronto consultant always makes me nervous. One of their first reports on the Gore states that "there are too many trees in the park blocking the view."

These guys seem to think that every city wants a useless, ugly public space like Yonge and Dundas Square.

More info here: http://www.myhamilton.ca/myhamilton/city...

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By Really? (registered) | Posted August 31, 2009 at 17:58:53

Jason, (Yonge &) Dundas Square is terrible! They're worried about TREES blocking the views!?

I was at the n/w corner of Y&D just this weekend, heard some great beats coming from the 'main stage' area near the 'back' of the square. I couldn't see a thing as there are these stupid display sign/over-head covers that block the view of about 80% of the square (as seen on the bottom-left of this pic: http://karma-laboratory.com/petridish/im... ).

So rather than going in further to check out the goings-on, I just kept walking towards my mission.

If anyone were to suggest that Gore Park look like the photo linked above, then I will personally chain myself to a tree to avoid The Gore Park Chainsaw Masacre Pt.2! I'm pretty confident that the City --which got a 'Win' with their innitial Gore Park Makeover-- will NOT change what has made Gore Park such a destination since then!

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