Special Report: Walkable Streets

King Street East: Hamilton's Shabby, Neglected Gateway To Downtown

King Street East is just another example of the way our city's traffic engineering department is killing neighbourhoods across the city.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 08, 2011

King Street East heading into downtown Hamilton is not a pleasant stretch of street.

Abandoned storefront follows abandoned storefront. Boarded up and broken windows. Graffiti. Litter. Many of the businesses that are open look like they won't be for much longer.

Storefronts like this are not an unusual sight on King East.

As far as car traffic is concerned, it's one of the busiest streets in the city and one of the most important, linking the east side of the city and Stoney Creek with the downtown. But the misery is obvious. Drivers dash through. Pedestrians look uniformly miserable.

What's going on here? Why isn't this part of the street doing as well as King Street farther east (past Gage Park), or Main Street farther east (also beyond Gage Park), or King Street farther west (in the downtown)?

Certainly, those sections are not without their problems, but they don't have the look of urban decay that characterizes King between Sherman Avenue and Wellington Street.

So let's take a closer look, starting with the Main & King intersection by Gage Park.

Intersection of Main & King. Photo credit Google.

East of this intersection, both Main and King are two-way streets. Cars traveling west-bound on the two-way portions of King and Main are funnelled onto King, which becomes one-way here.

If we start at the King & Main intersection and head east on King Street, towards Stoney Creek, it becomes more of a residential street for a time, passing through pleasant tree-lined neighbourhoods.

If we headed east on Main Street instead, we see that it retains its commercial character. It links up with Ottawa Street, which is experiencing a renaissance in the same vein as James North.

Now lets start at the King & Main intersection again, but let's travel west on King Street instead, towards downtown.

King becomes four lanes of one-way traffic right after this intersection. Properties adjacent to the street are a mix of commercial (auto dealerships, fast food restaurants, a travel agency, etc.) and residential (a mix of low-rise apartment buildings and single- and multi-unit houses).

Cars enjoy unimpeded flow, pedestrians don't enjoy anything at all.

Things aren't great, but they aren't too bad, either, but when we reach Gage, things start to decline.

The area past Gage features a mix of low-wage businesses, parking lots, and low-rise brownstones interspersed with sections that appear slightly better off (like the Scott Park area, for example). There aren't many pedestrians and there's an absence of businesses with a lively street presence (restaurants, cafes, etc.) that you'd normally expect in a mixed commercial-residential neighbourhood.

Then we reach Sherman Avenue and things take a real nosedive. It's obvious that this part of the city is really not doing well. I used to live just past Sherman, at the corner of King and Proctor Blvd, and this part of King - though fun to live on for a young twenty-something - requires a high tolerance for incidents that require police involvement.

Closed-down, boarded up businesses are frequent. Seedy, windowless bars dot the strip. Sex trade workers ply their trade in the late and oddly enough, early hours (I'm told due to shift workers coming off the night shift). The sidewalks are bare and featureless and there's an almost total absence of trees along the street.

So much for multicultural friendship.

As the eastern gateway to downtown, it's hard to do much worse.

This is odd, because there are nice neighbourhoods immediately adjacent to the street. The afore-mentioned Proctor Boulevard is one of the nicest small boulevards in the lower city. You only have to travel a few metres off King in either direction to find yourself on pleasant, tree-lined streets with well-maintained homes.

Just meters off King, it's a different world. The first photo is Proctor Blvd; the second is Emerald Street.

There are also pockets along this stretch that are better maintained and that host businesses of a higher calibre than the payday loan outfits, fast food joints and car washes that are otherwise the main players. It's hard not to get the impression, though, that the momentum of the street is not in their direction.

It's hard not to get the impression, in fact, that King Street has been forgotten.

Newman's Menswear: keeping it classy on King since 1927. We need more businesses like this.

It doesn't have to be this way. King is not Barton Street, which runs through neighbourhoods that bore the brunt of the collapse of Hamilton's manufacturing economy.

The real problem with King is King itself. The decay of King is not because the neighbourhoods around King are decaying. I think it's the other way around: what's happening on King is because it's really unpleasant to do anything besides drive down it, and this is hurting all of the neighbourhoods around it.

It's no coincidence that the two-way part of King east of Gage Park is doing fine, and that the traffic-calmed, narrower one-way part west of Wellington is doing well too. These parts of King are far more amenable to pedestrians, cyclists, and the sort of ordinary folks who don't enjoy being run over. Decent businesses pop up and are sustained.

King is just another example of the way our city's traffic engineering department is killing neighbourhoods across the city, costing us hundreds of millions of dollars in lost property values, millions in property taxes, and untold misery as quality businesses and their customers move elsewhere, taking their jobs and their property standards with them.

At what point are we going to decide that enough is enough already and it's time to take back our streets from the traffic engineering department's grotesque belief that streets exist solely to service cars?

They by en sell your stuff.

It is blindingly obvious that our one-way downtown freeways are wrecking neighbourhoods and literally killing people, but the pace of change is excruciatingly slow. When change does occur, it frequently takes the form of bizarrely complex designs like the two-way York conversion, where it is virtually impossible to actually get onto the west-bound lane because you can't turn onto it from James in either direction.

It would be funny if the human cost were not so terrible. We need to start making bold changes in this city, and I think we need to start with our streets. They're broken and they need fixing, so let's fix them already, starting with sensible two-way conversions.

Streets like King East have suffered through neglect and decay long enough.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz


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By Ashley (registered) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 15:46:58

I live on King east. One thing that drives me insane are the complete lack of garbage cans on the side walk. You can walk for blocks and blocks (yes, City of Hamilton, some of us do still walk) and not come across a garbage can.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 19:48:21 in reply to Comment 63210

I totally agree! I have been asking the city for garbage cans, especially at bus stops for years. All shops that sell food items also need to be required to supply garbage cans for their customers! Tim Hortons, you need to have garbage cans on the streets, not just next to your buildings. I hate the garbage your customers leave on my lawn and in the street!

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 17:02:15 in reply to Comment 63210

Perhaps we need drive-thru garbage cans.

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 20:32:09

It should get better with the stadium renovation. It takes time and money but it will slowly get better, not worse.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 09:58:29 in reply to Comment 63218

Stadium Renovation will do nothing for the surrounding neighbourhoods. Why would it, the current stadium has been present for many years, a new one isn't going to have a long term lasting impact.

There is also the grave risk that Brian Timmis, Parkview Secondary & King George will all become parking lots. I say that as parking seemed to be a key issue with the "stadium debate"

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By TerryCooke (registered) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 20:39:34


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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 21:11:02

imagine what an lrt route could do in terms of traffic calming!

speaking of which, is that still happening?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 21:24:04

stunning revelation that streetfront businesses can't survive along a freeway. Maybe we should bring in another few thousand urban experts and see what they have to say (then we can ignore their advice after they leave town).

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2011 at 23:20:04

Adrian, Thank you for shining a light on King Street East!

The state of storefront retail and streetscape in this stretch has done much to impact the perception of the entire city.

In view of the oncoming PanAM games, maybe it is time to look into 'crowdsourcing' the revitalization of this part of King Street East - and not depend solely on a budget strapped city to provide solutions to complex problems that face neighborhoods along this stretch.

Breaking down this fairly long (mixed residential/retail) stretch into conceptually manageable segments to create a series of visually identifiable neighborhood business districts - may lead to local residents & businesses taking ownership of their segment - upon which local community groups could then generate distinctly local identities & creative themes which are realized incrementally thru collaborative community efforts.

In the absence of strong Business associations / BIA districts in this stretch it may be worth looking at King Street East in smaller segments as below - and even possibly crowdsourcing an RFP via this forum, for ideas/maps/sketches to jump-start a very unique community driven solution to urban development:

-Kensington to Melrose Ave -9 City Blocks-(eg: Dunsmure Village?)

-Melrose Ave to Balsam Ave -3 City Blocks-(PanAM Village)

-Balsam Ave to Sherman -9 City Blocks-(eg: Barnesdale Village?)

-Sherman to Wentworth -8 City Blocks-(eg: Sherman Village?)

-Wentworth to Wellington -8 City Blocks-(eg:Wentworth Village?)


-Wellington to James -8 City Blocks-(Intnl. Village + Gore, 4 Blks each)

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-05-08 23:37:16

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 10:15:03 in reply to Comment 63222

There was BIA talk a few years ago on part of this stretch. My understanding is the city councillor was negative to the idea.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 23:38:23

As I travelled down Toronto's Avenue road last night, I was surprised to see that water main reconstruction still hadn't finished from when I lived there 7 years ago. Although it was a painful drive, I was quite inrtigued that the neigbourhoods lining the Avenue looked very Hamilton-esque, but the High street itself was very un-Hamilton - bustling cafes, high end retail, and trendy condo developments. A long bike ride along Main St. today gave a different feeling. Besides almost being sideswiped twice, the general lack of economic activity was a little discouraging. Being on a bike, there is more time to contemplate the what-ifs. I am not asking for Pusateri's and Ferrari dealerships...just some middle class retail, some eclectic shops and the odd restaurant or cafe. I liked the comment in an earlier thread about canning the rush hour parking restrictions. I don't see how anyone would want to open a business on a street that is hostile to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists trying to park their vehicles. Oh also, can we have some kind of restorative justice (caning?)for people who honk and curse at motorists who are trying to slow down to park on our one way expressways.

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 00:46:12

I think the history should come into it. Did King change due to the neighborhood and decline in 1953?

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 07:26:14

Thank you for writing this. We, too, live in a beautiful neighbourhood of well-kept homes near the intersection of King and Main, and to step outside of it to the lack-of-business district is an exercise in discouragement. The cars whip along, over the speed limit, past the delta, still driving in freeway mode as they leave the one-way Main St. for a two-way King St. that has very little room between the sidewalk and the road, making it it very unsafe for those traveling on foot. Always thought it must look terrible to visitors from out of town. At least now, with the Red Hill expressway, we can direct visitors to our house with a route that entirely bypasses the King St. East desolation-- though that expressway came with a price that outweighs any benefits to our part of the city.

Ottawa St. North, on the other hand, is bustling and cheerful and perfectly safe to walk along, with two way traffic, lots of stoplights, wide sidewalks and a buffer of parking spaces between the sidewalk and the road.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2011-05-09 07:27:14

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 09:21:49

It's worth noting that the area mentioned here is very poor. In fact, a very good chunk of the lower city east of James is. And while I totally agree that the traffic situation really isn't helping, it also isn't happening in isolation. Look at Barton - two way, calmed traffic, lots of crosswalks - but more often than not storefronts are boarded or curtained. If we don't address poverty, we can pretty much abandon any hope of revitalizing anything but small islands of this area.

First though, we have to ask ourselves - what constitutes an actual sign of "neglect", and what's simply a common aesthetic of working-class areas?

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By adrian (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 10:25:22 in reply to Comment 63232

It's worth noting that the area mentioned here is very poor.

It's not that poor - certainly not as poor as Barton, as I explicitly mentioned in my article. Did you see the photos I posted of Proctor and Emerald? Those are not the only nice streets off this section of King, either. There are plenty of neighbourhoods adjacent to this part of King that are doing just fine, but as soon as you step off their streets and onto King, it's a totally different situation.

Granted, these neighbourhoods are not generally as affluent as the ones off of Main Street West. However, Main Street West reminds me a lot of King Street East. I lived off King Street East, and I currently live off Main Street West, and there are major similarities. If it wasn't for the fact that the west end of the city is richer than the east, I think Main Street West would be in much the same situation as King Street East.

First though, we have to ask ourselves - what constitutes an actual sign of "neglect", and what's simply a common aesthetic of working-class areas?

I don't buy this line of thinking, again because the homes and lawns off King are much better maintained than the businesses (and abandoned businesses) on King.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 15:21:50 in reply to Comment 63242

It's not that poor - certainly not as poor as Barton, as I explicitly mentioned in my article. Did you see the photos I posted of Proctor and Emerald? Those are not the only nice streets off this section of King, either. There are plenty of neighbourhoods adjacent to this part of King that are doing just fine, but as soon as you step off their streets and onto King, it's a totally different situation.

Our own neighbourhood is a mix of self-employed, tradespeople, professionals, artists, or just plain employed, as well as pensioners who all keep their front yards tidy. They do shop Ottawa St. regularly (just had a conversation today at a school event with a group of parents who are very pleased at the migration of antique stores, art galleries, and the new places to buy a good cup of coffee). But for anything else, we all have to drive to Limeridge, Eastgate, or the Centre on Barton.

Not saying there aren't people who are hard up in our neighbourhood, but wouldn't a vibrant King St. be a great place for job-seekers to start? Most people looking for a job at a store or restaurant have to travel out of neighbourhood as well, and that costs money whether someone is traveling by car or HSR.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2011-05-09 16:39:21

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 13:10:27 in reply to Comment 63242

The houses are large, even grandiose, but the property values are quite low. Many are chopped up into rooming houses and rented very cheap. Ward 3 is one of the poorest wards in the city, and we're one of the poorer cities in Ontario (and Canada)., Not everyone is poor, but to pretend that poverty isn't an issue for this chunk of street is a little ridiculous.

If you charted incomes on the sidestreets along King and Main, does anyone really doubt that this would be one of the low-points, especially compared to anywhere west of it?

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By adrian (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 16:04:22 in reply to Comment 63252

Not everyone is poor, but to pretend that poverty isn't an issue for this chunk of street is a little ridiculous.

Of course poverty is an issue for this chunk of street. However, I think it's a big mistake to reflexively explain the situation on King East by pointing that out. There are other factors besides poverty at work here, and looking at those factors was the main point of my article.

If you charted incomes on the sidestreets along King and Main, does anyone really doubt that this would be one of the low-points, especially compared to anywhere west of it?

I'd be interested in seeing the results of a study like that, especially if you were to compare those incomes to the sidestreets off James North and Ottawa North, which are both far more walkable than King East is.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 23:33:54 in reply to Comment 63261

Exactly why I'd support two way traffic, LRT and other upgrades of the street. But as with James North and other areas where this is an issue, there's a lot more to think about than tax revenues and general aesthetics.

The study I'd like to see is one which contrasts effective, functioning working-class areas with ghettos and slums. Where does it work and why? Because in many places, it does.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 11:41:54 in reply to Comment 63242

thans Adrian! I live East of James Street and I am not poor. Nor are anyh of my neighbours 'poor'. Among the homeowners in my area: we have business owners and professionals on my street.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 13:31:25 in reply to Comment 63246

I think in different terms other than the area being "poor".

I think of it in terms of an area with a wide range of incomes. The gap in incomes can be very large in this area from people below the "poverty line" to people making 6 figures plus living within a few hundred feet, or less, of one another.

While that does have an impact on the condition of King Street, I think there are greater aspects impacting King Street like it being a one-way street, absentee land owners, ineffective vision & leadership at City Hall, changing economy, and more...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 10:06:47

I'm no expert.

Merely a Hamiltonian observing over decades.

But as well as agreeing with what Mahesh has put forward, a few thoughts of my own.

Neighbourhoods...especially vulnerable ones...go through phases. They live, they flourish, they don't flourish as much, they die off, they change, they adapt...or they don't, not for a long time...and the cycle continues.

As I say, I'm no expert, but it's pretty clear that even if we're just talking about North America, the suburbanization of our culture has exacted various costs from more urban areas.

I'm old enough to remember King Street East being in a more vibrant state. But then, I'm also old enough to remember a non-suburbanized Greater Metropolitan Hamilton area, with little peripheral expansion in play and only one real shopping center to speak of.

The world we live in now has high expectations. We expect things all glossy-like, and we expect it NOW. Part of this invariably means...especially taking into consideration the relative ages of the observers...that we can only see things as they are, have difficulty in framing context, and just as invariably, tend to be quite condemning of the forces we point to in our demonization. All this is fine and good, but I'm always a little skeptical when more energies are spent on philosophical lynching than gaining genuine understanding and working towards solutions.

'We've' made choices in North America. (Consciously or not, because in the end, we vote with our dollars.) We've decided we've wanted a car-centric culture, we've decided we want a shopping mall/big-box culture, we've decided we want mass consumerism at its most convenient...and most modern. For me, these variables pretty much answer the question 'What happened?!?'

Can King Street East...or Barton Street for that matter...ever find its place in the sun again? Absolutely. And what's most heartening to me is seeing articles like this one. Where, even if what may dominate the discussion at first is sadness and frustration and anger and invective, eventually some cogent observations and some creative suggestions move things along so that even if none of us may be 'movers and shakers', surely our hopeful thinking can only help create the landscape where things are more likely to shift towards that sunlight.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted May 12, 2011 at 14:27:36 in reply to Comment 63237

Well put. The discussion itself is the seeds of change. Its when complete apathy sets in do things actually begin to die.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 10:21:19

folks, local council leadership is essential in seeing these areas come back to life. Too many people in that part of town like things just the way they are.... http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/2127/...

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 23:03:02 in reply to Comment 63240

Again, to reiterate my above point, local leadership is key to why some parts of the city are doing great while seconds away, other areas are stuck in time: http://hamilton.openfile.ca/hamilton/fil...

Good thing we shut that place down. Don't want ward 3 going all yuppy on us. This is more like it.... http://goo.gl/PVZuk

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 14:10:31

Good article. I agree with the author.

Both king and main need to be converted from their one-way five lane expressways. They are killing lower city businesses. Also, we need real two way conversion - not the crap conversion they did on York street. Few cars drive in the other direction. What was the point of the whole thing?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 15:47:39 in reply to Comment 63256

I for one do not hold out much hope for that happening. Look at the Wilson part of the street - 2-way to Victoria (being completed now) and one way the rest of the way to Sherman.

What is the the use of that? If two way is okay for the approach, why does the final approx 1.5km need to be one way?

Welcome to Ward 3, or should it just be called MorelliWorld...

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 17:13:10

In my humble opinion there are several things the city could do immediately to curtail the continued decline of places like King E and Barton St.

  1. Begin some meaningful and effective and if need be punitive form of property standards enforcement.

Start hitting absentee or speculative landlords in the tax roll or pocket book. Develop a set of minimum standards that detail storefront appearances, acceptable uses, occupancy. Enforce the Ontario Fire Code. (This is a very powerful set of regulations if used properly). The broken window doctrine works. When it is unacceptable to allow a property to decay, and there are penalties when you do, things change. This city needs to shed its legacy of allowing historical, architecturally significant and building stock in general to decay, rot and be bulldozed to make parking lots.

  1. Explore, introduce, institute and develop investment and development incentives for targeted areas. These could include taxation incentives (deferral), grants, low or zero interest loans. With performance contracts and penalties if commitments aren't met.

  2. Cut the red tape that people have to got through to get a project off the ground and begin contributing economically. City Hall should be a one stop experience for applying for permits, variances, licenses, loans, grants etc. You shouldn't have to speak to 7 people in 3 departments to obtain the information you need to get going.

  3. Two way King St from Gage to Wellington. It's not a panacea but will slow traffic down, encourage more pedestrian traffic particularly if people begin developing some of these very affordable multi-use properties.

  4. Market the area. Be loud and proud. There are some terribly misinformed people posting here who seem to think that the area is akin to deepest darkest Detroit. That could not be farther from the truth. Are there issues? Certainly. No urban area in transition is free of them. However there is way more upside than down.

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2011-05-09 17:15:51

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By TnT (registered) | Posted May 12, 2011 at 09:00:29 in reply to Comment 63267

I agree with you on these points. I have experienced Hamiltons knee jerk reaction to this and it will hurt owners that are running safe, fire code passed properties and progressive uses like hostels and student homes.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 17:39:46

From 2005-09, city government expenditures in Hamilton went up by 45.7%, but population only went up by 1.3%. In contrast, from 2001-05, the government only increased spending by 19.37%, yet population went up 5.8%.

It would appear that Hamilton is a more attractive place to live when more of the money stays in the hands of people/businesses, rather than being spent by the government.

King St East could be bustling again, but the way to do it is by cutting taxes/spending and embracing the free market. Allow Hamilton to once again produce things people want to buy, rather than relying on the government to lead the way (monopoly health/education industries).

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 20:45:36 in reply to Comment 63269

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 22:04:08 in reply to Comment 63278

What does your blog entry have to do with King St E. Or for that matter Hamilton?

If you think there is anything approaching a neo-conservative movement in Canada that has any traction on Main St. I would suggest you are delusional. You in one sentence arrogantly proclaim Americans as "suckers" and then insult Canadians as being no better.

Right wing domination of main stream media op-ed peices? Are you kidding me? Someone better tell Peter Mansbridge, Craig Oliver, The McKenna brothers, Heather Mallick, Royson James, Andrew Coyne, Allan Gregg, Evan Solomon, et al .... that they are boot licking right wing facists.

What is wrong with peoples sense of individuality? Or their sense of personal responsibilty? Or their tendency towards fiscal conservatism?

All of those are largely what built this country

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 19:42:03 in reply to Comment 63281

What is wrong with peoples sense of individuality? Or their sense of personal responsibilty? Or their tendency towards fiscal conservatism?

Nothing, except when those principles are used to promote an agenda detrimental to all.

Those are the main principles exploited by neoconservative propaganda. The reason it works is because they appeal to many people . But they have become very easy to exploit. That's all I'm saying.

As for the post having anything to do with King, it doesn't. It was meant as a rebuttal to the resident Once-ler A Smith. I put the link instead of writing a long rant.

You are free to choose not to click on it Shemp'.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 22:09:18 in reply to Comment 63281

Andrew Coyne and Allan Gregg are conservative. Otherwise, point taken. :)

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 22:15:51 in reply to Comment 63282

lol Andrew Coyne likes to think he is conservative... and Allan Gregg has decades long affiliation with the LPC IIRC.

Back to the matter at hand. King St E

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 20:27:06 in reply to Comment 63283

and Allan Gregg has decades long affiliation with the LPC IIRC.

Au contraire.

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By thrillhouse (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 19:48:38 in reply to Comment 63269

Why don't you take all the data and give us a real correlation coefficient. Four data points with arbitrary date-ranges allow you to conclude next to nothing.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 23:41:33 in reply to Comment 63276

Take a look at the third graphic...


From 1993-2000, per capita government health/education spending (2009 dollars) in Canada either remained flat or fell. During this period, when the government reduced it historical growth rate of spending, Canada's real per capita GDP averaged grew a faster than average 3.04%.

In other words, by spending less, the government created the conditions for faster economic growth.

From 1979-83, as government spending (health care spending increased by around 25%) increased quite quickly, real GDP/capita averaged only 0.165% per year.

From 1984-89, when spending increased moderately, but still faster than 1993-2000, real GDP/capita increased at a rate of 2.49%.

From 1989-92, as government spending ramped back up, real GDP/capita averaged -1.64%.

From 2002-05, as government health care/education spending increases were moderate, average GDP/capita averaged 1.71%.

From 2005-08, as government spending started climbing again, it slowed real GDP/capita to 0.8% per year. I don't have the data for 2008-10, but we know that spending has increased and that the economy has yet to recover.

None of this PROVES government spending slows the economy, but it suggests quite strongly that this is the case. If you demand 100% scientific proof, I can't give you that as I am not a statistician.

However, if you are truly interested in helping Hamilton grow more prosperous, you should really look at these examples with an open mind.

By limiting government spending, more of every dollar we earn will flow to businesses and entrepreneurs, rather than to public employees and politicians. If the goal is to get more private sector businesses along King St, how can this not be the obvious solution?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 18:53:59

Here are a few avenues that community groups & motivated individuals in our city could use as reference in developing a framework for community engagement viz. revitalizing King Street East between Kensington Ave and Wellington Street.

A: Crowdsourcing Urban Design Solutions

-- Crowdsourcing Urban Planning?

This video discusses six forms of crowdsourcing: 1. Distributed data collection 2. Soliciting design solutions 3. Collective intelligence 4. Peer production of public goods 5. Collective Intelligence Genome 6. "Open Innovation" technology

Articles on Crowdsourcing urban design solutions:

--By the City/For the City

--Improving NYC through Crowdsourced urban Design

--The Future of our Cities-Open, Crowdsourced and Participatory

--Crowdsourced City-(a Syllabus)

--IdeaScale - channel discussions to increase citizen engagement

B: ProBono Design Services

Hamilton has more than 50 professional design firms in our region. The forgotten parts of our city could benefit immensely if our professional design firms were approached by leading community groups to adopt the following models which have already achieved phenomenal success:

-- The One Percent is a program of Public Architecture in the US, which connects nonprofits with architecture and design firms willing to give of their time pro bono.

Potential impact: If every architecture professional in the U.S. committed 1% of their time to pro bono service, it would add up to 5,000,000 hours annually - the equivalent of a 2,500-person firm, working full-time for the public good.

Informed by the examples of other professions and groups, ranging from the Community Design Collaborative of AIA Philadelphia to the Taproot Foundation , The One Percent program is focused on professionalizing pro bono design across many categories including Arts, Civic, Community, Education, Health and Housing.

-- Architects for Peace

Architects for Peace aims to provide an alternative forum for debating political, environmental and social issues in the professional urban context.

The reasons for providing probono services are many and include:

  • The perceived and real social divide in the use of architectural services
  • The perceived notion that architecture is dispensable and deals only with aesthetics
  • The public’s general unawareness of the impact of architecture, urban design and planning in the way we use and live in our cities
  • The need of our arch-peace professionals to assist in the creation of more democratic, fair and better cities for all, wherever we are based
  • The need to realise that these services would provide mutual benefits and that as part of the society we live in, we all suffer or rejoice from urban wellbeing.

-Mahesh P. Butani

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By Micky (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 18:54:20

I live south of King Street East (that corner "We Buy En Sell" place infuriates me every time
I pass it) and thought of something a while ago regarding city approved hoarding. If this neighbourhood cannot sustain business (the throughfare that King St E is doesn't help) then at the very least Hamilton should put in strict regulations to beautify the area with acceptable hoarding - and enforce it. I've seen some pretty interesting (read: attractive) hoarding as an employee for a large commercial landlord, but it doesn't have to be graphic art.

It would make the eyesores that they are uniform, professional, the quality good, and the responsibility on the owners of the commercial properties to install and upkeep.

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 20:01:44

funny...my bike popped a tire when cruising down proctor. luckily the cycle shop down the block fixed my bike up in less than 10 minutes. I think I got my first bike there as a kid.

My grandma is also a landlord not more than a couple blocks west on king. And irresponsible tenants are just as troublesome as empty storefronts.

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By FastMan (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2011 at 23:13:05

I think one point that is being overlooked is the point made by one the first posters: the state of the schools in that area. Being an old Cathedral boy, I had the luxury of going to both the old school and the new school, having rivals with Scott Park and picking on all the kids coming up the system through the area's Catholic and public elementary schools. With the closing of alot of the schools, the combining of others leading to overcrowding classrooms, we in fact perpetuate this area to be as "bad" as it is. When I went to school, there was no complaints of the one ways, cars zooming etc...because kids were using those streets, families were using those also. My aunt and uncle used to own K&M, the corner of King and Fairleigh...heck I remember the days when Linc used to stop by the store and pick up his Sunday Sun there.
As much as I respect Adrian and my fellow readers of RTH, King St East's problem is more than just one way streets and walkability. That's just my opinion from my experiences growing up around there.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:29:00

Just read this Marshall McLuhan quote from a deputation he gave before Toronto's Public Works Department in opposition to the planned widening of a road "for smooth traffic flow" through the St. Mike's U of T campus where he taught for many years:

Every bureaucracy in the world is breaking down, including yours and the university's, through speed-up - the factor for breakdown is the efficiency of speed. Anything that speeds up an environment around another environment destroys the environment it surrounds.

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By Rebecca Doll (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 13:44:13

As a small-business owner at King/Sherman, I think your article has framed the problem well. Two way streets are a great first step that will encourage revitalization of the commercial strip.
Folks here talk about density being an issue in making the strip commercially sustainable and often compare it to Roncesvalles in Toronto. I happen to think that we do have the density but maybe not the disposable income to be found in the once-low-rent-now-flourishing Roncesvalles area. I think it is a bit of a closed loop; density/walkability leads to customers for businesses; thriving small businesses lead to jobs (yes, they do, I could employ five more people if I could afford it); jobs lead to disposable income leads to thriving businesses etc. Something has to start the cycle and I think two-way streets are a good place to start, far less complex than tackling jobs or drugs for instance.
In the year and a half that we have been open, several businesses have opened and closed to the east and west of us, often in the same spaces. It is to the credit of the entrepreneurs and the property owners that everyone keeps trying and I cringe when I read suggestions in the comments that punitive measures might help. That is a bit like tormenting attendees about the absentees. There are bad apples everywhere but I believe they are a minority and it would be a shame to devise measures around them at the expense of everyone else. Great neighbourhoods can't be legislated. It takes the involvement of everyone.
I am aware of quite a few community-led revitalization projects on this stretch of King. None of them are flashy, all of them are slow and all promise to integrate residents, businesses, government, investors, customers etc. If any of you are keen get your hands dirty on the King St Renaissance we will put your skills to use whatever they may be.
All that being said, yay for two-way streets. They are a great vote-of-confidence in the community.

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By soltuions (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 16:39:54

Poverty is the number one issue that affects so many things in this city, however without the proper dialogue, things will continue as is.

In my advocacy work, it is shocking how many people are completely unaware of specific policies in play and the focus should be on organizing.

If there is to be community building, then all the players have to join together with a common agenda, solidarity netwroking is also an importatn part of this process.

Why do we put too much faith in the bureaucrats to solve our issues, when, we the people can and have the solutions, through a variety of avenues.

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By seika (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 19:55:23

OK So here is ANOTHER street in Hamilton that is dwindling .. HOWEVER I take offense to the comment about it NOT being Barton street. What does that mean that it is ok for Barton street to look like a boarded up crack ghetto from hell b/c we bore the brunt of the industrial downfall? I happen to live in the Barton and Emerald area of town and for those of you who DON'T venture into this neck of the woods we here would like the city to do something about Barton Street as well. Afterall the hospital is here as well as a neighbourhood full of families with kids. What needs to happen int his city is that all these areas need to be revitalized and some kind of planning needs to take place. As well the city needs to address the absentee landlords and the fact that most storefronts are now illegal apartments. I would love to open a shop on Barton St. and i'm sure there are people thinking the same thing along King East but until the city steps up and takes some responsibility for these areas going down the proverbial toilet we as home owners and residents need to step up and make some changes.

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By GO GO (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 20:51:45 in reply to Comment 63346

Thank you Seika!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Agree with 100%

NOW, how do we go about changing it? If property standards doesn't give a crap how's it gonna get fixed?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 10, 2011 at 20:42:44

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:08:49 in reply to Comment 63350

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2011 at 15:16:25

It could be Worse! Look what's going on on Main St. E.!

I tried to post the pic from the Spec., but here's the addy & a brief description of the photo.http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/530272--the-end-is-nigh-apparently

A billboard on Main Street East announces the coming of Judgement Day on May 21.
Doomsday sign on Main East A billboard on Main Street East announces the coming of Judgement Day on May 21.
Barry Gray/The Hamilton Spectator

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2013 at 11:10:07

Thousands of shops could be turned into houses and flats after a government decision that some traditional high streets are no longer viable.

Nick Boles, the planning minister, believes local authorities should give up trying to revive town centres that are blighted by rows of boarded-up shops. Instead, he says, some of the empty properties should be converted into affordable homes.

In a policy that could change the face of town centres across England, the government wants councils to concentrate their efforts on revitalising shopping in struggling areas on just one or two “prime” streets.

The proposed relaxation in planning restrictions on converting retail premises into private housing could mean terraces of shops being turned into housing. Long high streets could be shortened.


A relaxation of planning rules could see town centre shops converted into homes, as ministers accept that the thriving high streets of the past are unlikely to return.

Rather than seeking to revive every street of boarded-up shops, planning minister Nick Boles suggested that councils should concentrate retail outlets in 'prime' locations and allow other areas to become residential.

Following a report by retail guru Mary Portas, who was hired by David Cameron to find a way of reviving dying town centres, some £1.2million of taxpayer money was shared out between 12 towns for initiatives to inject new life into their traditional shopping high streets.

But her key recommendations, which included cutting business rates and putting a brake on new shopping centres, have both been rejected.

Mr Boles today said that planners most respond 'creatively' to shifts in the way today's consumers shop.

Allowing redundant shops to be converted into homes could ease pressure on greenfield sites for residential developments.

The planning minister said: 'People' s shopping habits are changing very fast as a result of the rise in internet shopping and changes in lifestyles and working patterns. We need to think creatively about how to help town centres thrive in this new era. We want to encourage local councils to concentrate retail activity into the prime shopping streets in the heart of their town centres and adopt a more relaxed approach to under-used retail frontages.'

Ms Portas expressed concern that councils would choose the 'easy option' of turning units into housing and said that losing the high street would be 'one of the greatest social crimes in our country.'


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By Bert Cooper (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2014 at 09:14:52

Sorry, but it's not the street design, it's the people that live there. You'll understand this when you get older.

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