By Jason Leach
Published July 16, 2006
My wife and I spent the day in Toronto yesterday and met Ben and his wife for lunch in Kensington Market.
Wow - stalls all over the sidewalks in the market, and on Spadina, Queen, and King, filled with artists, musicians, fruits, veggies, and just about everything else you can imagine.
Hamilton City Council should plan a field trip to the Spadina/Kensington/Queen West area some day to get ideas for our downtown. How wonderful would it be to have our Asian markets spill out onto the sidewalks along Cannon, York, Vine and James North!
We really need to re-think our "urban braille" program and its consequences for sidewalk activity. I like the concept of urban braille, but many of our streets are now impossible to have sidewalks stalls or tables due to the braille.
I'd love to see Council encourage this sort of sidewalk life by removing several lanes of traffic on main downtown streets and widening sidewalks, and then even verbally encourage building owners and market owners to bring some of their wares outside.
It was funny: as we strolled along Queen, then John towards the dome for a Jays game, we came upon Wellington Street. I turned and said to the group - "now this looks familiar," as I motioned to the four lanes of one way traffic, with not a soul on the sidewalks – no patios, markets, or shops.
We all marvelled at how, even in the heart of Toronto's busiest downtown area full of life and pedestrians, Wellington St. was barren like our downtown streets. Four lanes, one-way, narrow sidewalks: in T.O. It doesn't really matter, I guess, because every other street surrounding Wellington was jammed and hopping with life.
However, in our fine city, I hate to say, Wellington is the norm.
Head to Toronto this summer and check it out. Hamilton is seeing great things start downtown – a simple re-thinking of our streets/sidewalks and commerce downtown could have people coming here to marvel at the bustling retail/market districts in our core.
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