By Jason Leach
Published September 04, 2012
I have lived downtown for 11 years by choice and am raising my family here by choice. Despite the bad image our downtown may have to outsiders, as residents here we have only ever had one major complaint since the day we moved here: the one-way freeways.
They are life-sucking, business-killing and extremely dangerous to children, families and the elderly. What should be a simple five-minute walk to the shops of Locke Street involves crossing 10 lanes of roaring traffic that is nothing more than an extension of Hwy 403.
This should not be the case in 2012 when we talk about grand goals of getting kids outside, walking and playing in their neighbourhoods.
As far as I can tell, almost every one-way street in Hamilton is downtown in Wards 1-3.
I have never once heard a resident or councillor start a campaign or petition to bring one-way streets to any neighbourhood in Wards 4-15. In other words, they don't have any and don't want any. We don't either.
Downtown has come so far recently, in spite of a hostile environment to pedestrians and business. The creative class has led the charge to save downtown and as we know from world-wide research, they will come in droves to a city with a high quality of life. That means bike lanes, calm traffic, street trees, LRT, sidewalk patios and historic buildings.
Hamilton can offer all of this, and more. We simply need the leadership to make it happen.
Portland, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Fran, NYC and Ottawa have all made huge strides in their urban quality of life regardless of climate, city size or economic hardship. Each city has had one consistent means to make it happen: Leadership.
I urge you to lead Hamilton into the future by listening to its residents of the future.
The things that worked in 1960 don't work today. Even major planning and consulting firms understand this. The same company that recommended Hamilton go one-way in 1956 now supports "linking communities and businesses, developing environmentally sensitive growth strategies, and improving economic prosperity."
I find it ironic that the majority of residents and councillors who oppose two-way street conversions live in neighbourhoods with no one-way freeways.
It's time to allow downtown Hamilton the same opportunity for success that we offer the rest of the city, including our bustling downtowns in Ancaster, Dundas and Stoney Creek.
I wouldn't wish one-way streets on any neighbourhood in our city, including my own.
Note: this was submitted to the City Clerk as correspondence. If you support two-way streets, please take a few minutes to send a letter before noon on Wednesday, September 5. Address it to "Chair and Members, General Issues Committee".
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