For reasons of health, safety, and the environment, East Mountain residents want trucks off Kenilworth Access. City staff think the residents are really motivated by property values.
By John Neary
Published May 31, 2010
Like most neighbourhood associations, the EMC seems to have a dual mission of advocacy and community building. The proximate cause for its founding was to lobby for the removal of Kenilworth Access as a truck route in the new Master Plan.
The EMC had done its homework.
They noted that the radius of the hairpin turn at the top of the access is small enough that trucks must occupy both lanes, interfering with other forms of traffic.
They pointed out that Mountain Brow Boulevard (to which Kenilworth Access leads) is a two-lane residential street, parts of which have neither sidewalks nor bicycle paths.
They argued that truck traffic on escarpment roads may contribute to erosion and landslides, that diesel exhaust has detrimental effects on public health, and that a truck accident on Kenilworth Access could interfere with emergency services' access to the East Mountain.
Most pertinently, they reminded the committee that construction of the $250-million Red Hill Valley Parkway, just east of Kenilworth, was justified on the grounds that it would remove long-distance traffic from neighbourhood streets.
They also presented the results of their own real-world driving tests, which suggested that during low-traffic periods the Kenilworth Access would be roughly two minutes faster than the RHVP as a route from the industrial north end to the East Mountain. (During high-traffic periods, the advantage would likely lie with the RHVP.)
The city's own simulations, by contrast, estimate that travel times on the RHVP could be up to 300 percent longer than on Kenilworth.
While the initial staff report had recommended including Kenilworth as a truck route, the Truck Route Sub-Committee on April 26 instead proposed to remove it for an 18-month trial period.
Since then, the Chamber of Commerce has predictably argued that it should remain open, on the grounds that it is "the only full-time escarpment crossing between the RHVP and Claremont Access." (Is there any truck route to which that logic would not equally well apply?)
City staff warn that removal of Kenilworth Access as a truck route will "force traffic from the east end of the Concession Street BIA to drive the length of the BIA to access the truck route system."
As in so many other cases, network effects and the existence of a circumferential highway around Hamilton are simply ignored.
At the Public Works meeting, Danusia Szpak of the EMC noted that 168 residents of the East Mountain had submitted comments to the EMC regarding the suitability of Kenilworth Access as a truck route. The staff report characterized this citizen input in the following way:
Removal of the Kenilworth access was requested by residents on Mountain Brow Boulevard to reduced truck flows in front of their residences. Concerns were also expressed regarding property values, geological implications of truck traffic and roadway setbacks.
Ms. Szpak pointed out that precisely 3 of the 168 comments originated from Mountain Brow Boulevard residents who were concerned about their own residences. The other 165 came from residents of other neighbourhood streets or addressed larger issues of health, safety, and the environment.
The staff report unfairly portrays the civic activism of the EMC as a case of NIMBYism and narrow self-interest. Unless the authors of the staff report can rebut the presentation of the EMC, they should publicly apologize for their mistake.
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