By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published September 01, 2012
It talks about the need for downtown parking charges, now the cheapest in Canada, to increase, as well as strongly recommending the two-way conversion of Main and King Streets.
Metrolinx was very impressed that Hamilton has indeed been doing the land use study to complement and leverage the LRT investment (even if some councillors wanted to study suburban sprawl roads instead). On this front we are already doing well.
However, when staff unilaterally decided to take two-way conversion off the table almost two years ago, the Rapid Transit Citizens Advisory Committee and LRT supporters were dismayed.
No good reason was offered to do it then, and there is still no good reason.
In fact, the main justification - "There is still a need for some traffic to move easterly across the City, and Main Street fulfills this role" - goes directly against the need to shift away from catering to fast automobile commuting and toward making the route a people place suitable for denser mixed-use developed.
The other justification was to try to separate the controversial issue of two-way conversion from LRT, to avoid antagonizing people.
At the time, giving this up without any negotiation or real study to evaluate its negative impacts on the net benefit of LRT struck me as showing a lack of confidence in the entire project. LRT only works if the immediate neighbourhood is comfortable, safe and convenient to pedestrians!
As for the need for a political champion, this should be completely obvious! No one is going to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a city whose Mayor and Council are unenthusiastic about a project.
In every case I've looked at, the Mayor led the charge and fought actively for the project. It is hard to imagine how it could be otherwise.
The problem is that our Mayor and Council seem willing to let the project die through delay and neglect, rather than killing it through outright opposition.
Unfortunately, this may also be the Province's new strategy for Metrolinx and The Big Move.