Councillor Whitehead argues that changes to lower city streets to make them more community-friendly must balance the ability of other city residents to access the downtown.
By Terry Whitehead
Published October 08, 2013
At a recent Planning and Economic Development meeting, the neighbourhood secondary plan was presented for the Strathcona Transportation Management Plan near the downtown core. The secondary plan engaged the broader neighbourhood, as it identified a strategic plan that included a wish list of options for consideration.
Many of the options provided were localized in nature and have merit. However, included on this wish list was the closing of a lane on Main Street.
Main Street West near City Hall (RTH file photo)
This option may also have merit, but there are broader implications. The decision should be part of the city-wide Transportation Master Plan and include all citizens of Hamilton who may be impacted by such a decision.
It is clear that there is currently a greater capacity on some of the major arterial roads downtown than traffic warrants. Some argue that the City should close off lanes to make more complete streets, which may have benefits.
Decisions of this nature should include Mountain residents in a city-wide discussion to understand the overall benefits and implications of such decisions.
The form and function of our downtown - the heart of our city - is to provide employment and healthy neighbourhoods. Currently, the downtown is the centre of arts and entertainment, hospitality, office space and health care, and the seat of Government and Commerce.
Our strategic plan is to create a greater residential and employment density in the downtown. Many of these functions will rely on easy and accessible transportation for employees to attend work from outside of the downtown core. I do not see this function changing in the future.
So whatever implementation plans we put forward for our downtown transportation networks, we must ensure that a balance is struck with the concerns of the local neighbourhoods.
Consider: there are currently over 20,000 cars a day that utilize the Queen Street Hill, and the number utilizing the West 5th Access is comparable. Due to the unique geography of Hamilton, we have limited access between the mountain and the lower city.
It is clear that traffic volumes on Upper James, Mohawk Road, Garth Street, West 5th and so on that go through neighbourhoods are a concern for mountain residents, but I believe any changes would need to involve residents city-wide, not just the localized neighbourhoods.
To function as a City, we must ensure that any significant changes to the current transportation network looks at the broad upside and downside before implementing lane closures and conversions of arterial roads.
We expect a higher density of population and employment in downtown and throughout the City. Any changes to our transportation network need to contemplate these objectives.
There are many businesses downtown that rely on attracting people from far and wide and we need to ensure that we are not discouraging their continued patronage of these businesses.
The city-wide Transportation Master Plan must be an inclusive process that engages the overall population of the City of Hamilton.
By Bottlerocket (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 06:50:55
It's hard to know where to begin, but this is a start:
There are many businesses downtown that rely on attracting people from far and wide and we need to ensure that we are not discouraging their continued patronage of these businesses.
You don't think the bizarre and intimidating traffic configuration downtown discourages visitors? There's a reason for all those loooong stretches of nothing on Main East.
By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 07:42:16
All i can say if the residence from the mountain can find another city with one ways like in the core go and move there
By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 07:45:36
Mr. Whitehead, please take a walk along Main Street and King between Locke and Dundurn. Do you see a friendly environment for business? No, because businesses rely on people. Main Street especially is a dead zone. It needs to change at least between Dundurn and Bay, regardless of any "city-wide" master plans.
By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 07:48:41 in reply to Comment 92986
Murray i hear you but don`t you forget the core and the east end up to Gage Delta area
By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 12:34:35 in reply to Comment 92987
You are correct, Conrad. Yes, Main Street should be changed all the way. I just think the area between Dundurn and Bay is the absolute worst and serves as a gateway to our city. And it's ugly.
By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 12:41:50 in reply to Comment 93016
I hear you Murray as you past wenllington that neighborhood need a pick me up as well
Let me try to net out Councillor Whitehead's argument.
"I"ve received many calls from my constituents who hate having to spend any more time downtown than they have to, therefore, before you go making any changes to road configuration, let's hear what my constituents think about making downtown streets more hospitable to people who choose to live there, shop there, and open businesses there. There are always two sides to any story, but we really need to hear from the people least affected by any proposed changes since this debate can easily be skewed by those who live, work and shop downtown. I'm keeping an open mind, of course, but closing a lane is problematic."
Sounds pretty compelling to me Terry. What were we thinking? Your vision for the future of Hamilton is, well, very much your own.
By coo coo (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 08:52:04
Is he on crack? WE HAVE HAD A LANE CLOSED ON MAIN STREET FOR A YEAR RIGHT IN FRONT OF CITY HALL AT THE OLD FEDERAL BUILDING... and we CONVERTED CAROLINE TO TWO WAY TO SATISFY ONE OF HIS CRONIE DEVELOPERS
But if residents want a livable neighbourhood, it's impossible because it threatens his ward's ability to blow past their houses at 70km/hr for a grand total of 40 minutes out of a 24 hour day?
This guy has got to go.
By queen street (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 08:55:43
Aren't there currently ZERO cars a day utilizing the queen street hill?
By mountaingoat (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 09:17:13
Hi Mr. Whitehead, I am wondering that with all those traffic volumes of which you speak (West 5th, Garth, Upper James), why is council not going full steam ahead with implementing a one way street system on the mountain with twinned street concept? Twin Upper Paradise and Garth, Upper James and West 5th, Upper Wellington and Upper Wentworth... etc. Similarly, other "arterial roads" such as Fennell and Mohawk could be made into 4 and 5 lane, one-way streets, one eastbound, one westbound, with a similar plan for twinning Stone church Rd. with Rymal Rd. Personally, I am tired of it taking me 12 minutes to get from my house to Lime Ridge Mall when I could clearly get there in 9 minutes or so with this one-way street scheme. Not to mention all those employees who need to get to the Mall, the airport etc, etc in a timely fashion! As you say, "easy and accessible transportation for employees to get to work...."!
Maybe even Queensdale Ave. and Concession St. could be twinned one-ways too. I am sure the folks who live and who own businesses on all these streets wouldn't mind having a 4 and 5 lane expressway in their front yard, would they? Thanks for taking the time to consider my bold vision for moving traffic efficiently through Mountain "neighbourhoods".
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 09:53:13
Councillor Whitehead, please don't worry your pretty little head about our neighbourhoods downtown--we've got things under control. Residents in the lower city will raise our QoL and make our 'hoods more habitable, one street at a time if that's what it takes. No amount of whining and crying from suburbanites who love using downtown as a bypass/sacrifice zone will change that.
Not that ultra-parochialism is the answer to all our problems, but downtown-Hamiltonians have realized that many of our interests are completely at odds with those of Mountain residents, and we simply don't buy that we have to cater to those residents--they don't live here, so they don't get a say. I want two-ways downtown because they will make my life appreciably better, and if that adds 25 seconds to a mountain resident's commute, then so be it--it's my 'hood, not theirs.
So how about a détente: instead of this silly stuff about engaging suburbanites (silly because it's only every about cars--e.g. we don't hear much from the suburbs on addiction issues or social services), we'll mow our lawns, you worry about yours. Thanks.
Comment edited by Borrelli on 2013-10-08 09:54:38
By Joshua (registered) | Posted October 14, 2013 at 13:39:15 in reply to Comment 92996
As a Mountain resident, you don't have to cater to our interests, though it sure seems that way from the councillor's perspective. I would submit, however, that pitting the downtown core against the uptown sprawl is not at all helpful, either, as it poisons the well; the idea is, I think, that we're, whether in mountain or valley, searching for what's best for our communities. Personally, I'll take the healthier communities where citizens are walking, bicycling, and using public transit, because that healthier environment is good for everyone's children, mine included. I'm with you, in many ways, but would suggest that holing up in separate foxholes is not helpful. We can, as Benjamin Franklin apparently said, hang together or we can hang separately.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2013 at 10:12:59
I used to take my son to a home daycare along Garth Street near Bendamere. Pulling into/out of a driveway along Garth is a challenge, at best. The care provider didn't take the kids anywhere because she didn't want a gaggle of children walking along Garth, and I can't say I disagreed.
So to be fair, I think Mr. Whitehead does put his money where his mouth is with respect to fast traffic and thoroughfares on the Mountain - there are plenty of mountain streets with the same kind of horribly fast traffic we get on the lower city one-ways, with no real buffer (boulevards or bike lanes) protecting pedestrians on the narrow sidewalks. Garth street is functionally a "sacrifice zone" like Cannon. So I don't see his stance on the lower-city traffic as something hypocritical.
I just see it as plain wrong. Consistent, but still wrong.
Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-10-08 10:16:11
By foobar (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 10:24:16 in reply to Comment 92998
Translation -- Terry doesn't fight for safe liveable streets for his own constituents and gets embarrassed when lower city councilors show him how it's done.
By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2013 at 10:15:12
uptown versus downtown. Get rid of one-way streets. Leave the Main/King corridors alone, that's where an LRT might go. Electing a new Mayor, and ward one councillor will also help downtown. Why is the two-way street implementation committee doing nothing but talking about what streets to convert? Actions speak louder than words.
By bossy pants (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 10:40:19
Here's my question, how often do McHattie and Farr demand a big say in how projects on the west mountain are designed and handled?
By Joshua (registered) | Posted October 14, 2013 at 13:41:04 in reply to Comment 93005
How often do CITIZENS get a big say in how projects on the west mountain are designed and handled?
By one-way conversation (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 10:49:43 in reply to Comment 93005
Durrrr the west mountain doesn't belong to everyone so downtown doesn't get a say. Only downtown belongs to everyone so everyone gets to put their two cents worth in.
By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 11:29:37
I think we can all agree that the main thing is that any transportation plan be half-assed and drag out for decades after street conversions are floated.
Math Puzzle: 2001's Downtown Transportation Master Plan saw its mandatory five-year review released in 2008. Will we see the next iteration of the five-year review in 2013 or 2015?
By brundlefly (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2013 at 11:57:20
At least his spelling was correct.
By Jean Pierre (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 12:03:21
Just saw a Tweet from Hamilton Magazine (@Hamiltonmag) about their Weekly Poll, which is about one-way streets. So far, 100% of voters agree that one-way streets are killing the core. I agree!!
By Dm (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2013 at 22:59:11 in reply to Comment 93014
A poll worth quoting has a vote count. Readers a particular magazine poll is not worth mentioning. I have a poll on my front door that say 101% [+/-1%] vote for 2 way on everything but main and king.
By Balancer (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 12:15:56
I think a valid point to make is that balance he speaks of. Currently there is no balance and the mountain councillor wants to keep it that way. Balancing would be to actually listen to the people and businesses in the affected area first not keep it as is because a few mountain residents with one councillor's ear want things to stay the same.
By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 12:36:52
Translation: I want the process of change to take forever as we bicker and dither back and forth, so ultimately nothing does change. Councillor Whitehead, your brand of Hamilton politician needs to go in the next election.
By TerryWhitehead (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 13:05:11
The City Wide Master Transportation Study needs to be an inclusive process. That is the thrust of my messaging. I also stated that we need to strike the right balance and never suggested that complete streets. conversions are not without merit. I trust those that are protesting are not suggesting that the city wide transportation study should not be an inclusive process.
By Dave Stephens (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 15:38:45 in reply to Comment 93020
Are you the same Terry Whitehead that said "Downtown is not your Neighbourhood" if so what made you change your mind?
By highwater (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 16:19:57 in reply to Comment 93035
Actually he said downtown is not a neighbourhood. It appears he hasn't changed his mind.
By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 15:13:31 in reply to Comment 93020
And if I hear the "unique geography" argument one more time....
By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 14:38:13 in reply to Comment 93020
The public spaces are already heavily imbalanced in favor of motor traffic. I believe the initiatives underway are trying to introduce some balance where there presently is little to none. The transportation plan is slowly becoming more inclusive as pedestrian, non-motorized, and transit users realize more meaningful improvements. The motorized users already enjoy the great majority of public space. Also, as the voices of residents in a given neighborhood start to be respected rather than dismissed and marginalized - then the transportation plan will become more inclusive. And then there's the all important step of actually doing. Talking is great but at some point it has to turn into action and results, rather than endless studies and consultations, which at best seem to end in a pilot project only.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2013 at 14:32:56 in reply to Comment 93020
Thing is, there's lots of different flavours of "inclusive". One version of inclusive brings the many people from all over the city to the table, a large percentage of them looking to use these roads to commute. Another version of inclusive involves including small children walking alongside the roads, slow elderly/disabled folks trying to cross them, cyclists trying to commute, etc.
There's the old joke that democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. If the 3 get together and elect to eat the sheep, was it "inclusive" since the sheep had a voice at the table and was outvoted by a proper democratic process?
By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 14:26:00 in reply to Comment 93020
It should be inclusive, but not at the expense of expediency considering how this municipality likes to dither. It also should be evidence based, something you seem to be at odds with based on your previous comments.
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 14:25:19 in reply to Comment 93020
I think what is really troubling for those of us that get the complete streets arguments is just feeling that we are being told to temper our voices because 'it has to be an inclusive process', and 'we need a balanced solution'. The current situation is already way out of balance in favour of only those who care about ease of access, to the detriment of those who care about other aspects of urban form (e.g. walkability, cycle-ability, urban density, desirability for retail and other commercial use) which are empirically known to be more important (if you don't believe me, look at any other city and see for yourself how what you call access is not even close to the #1 priority). The complete streets side already knows that we need a balanced solution - that is precisely what we are asking for. We need people like you to explain to citizens who don't see any value in downtown intensification why they need to compromise, for the good of the rest of the city. In other words..you are talking to the wrong crowd. Complete streets is the balanced approach.
By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 14:08:52 in reply to Comment 93020
It's encouraging that you think complete streets and conversions have merit. Unfortunately, lower city residents have heard enough about Master Plans and Transportation studies. We've lost patience with the delays and politics and don't have an appetite for another "inclusive process" where the suburban councillors will vote down any motion for change.
By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 14:42:37
Cllr Whitehead, all I interpret from your message is more delays and indecision in the name of "inclusiveness". For many of us it feels like the term "inclusiveness" means to ask as many people as it takes to get your point of view. What possible value is a downtown that people only value for its speed to get through? The Linc, RHV, 403, QEW are perfectly good highways - what possible benefit does having the equivalent running through the heart of our city?
Comment edited by GrapeApe on 2013-10-08 14:43:20
By Twisted Kites (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 15:43:14
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.
By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2013 at 16:28:33
Our existing transportation system is grossly out of balance and denies freedom of choice to the citizens of Hamilton.
For the sake of my children, I want to live in a car-free neighbourhood. But I get zero freedom of choice in Hamilton. I have to submit to violent, dangerous and aggressive car drivers terrorizing my children off the streets and launching lethal cancer poison attacks against my family.
Civilized cities have car-free downtowns. When is Hamilton going to catch up with the rest of the world?
By Joshua (registered) | Posted October 14, 2013 at 13:44:40 in reply to Comment 93038
Agreed: for the sake of my children.
By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2013 at 09:22:04
Complete streets DOES equal a balanced approach. That's what "complete" streets means!
By Anon (anonymous) | Posted October 10, 2013 at 17:01:44
A 2-way Queen Street would have meant a lot fewer perplexed drivers stuck on Herkimer.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 10, 2013 at 17:08:40 in reply to Comment 93117
2-way queen would also get more cars going down to King/Main instead of crowding into Aberdeen - especially if/when Frid Street gets finished and provides another alternate route. That might also reduce Longwood traffic volumes and help avoid the sister-bridge project.
By DM (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2013 at 15:36:56
Hahha, comments that get -5 are hidden. Nice to see RTH is open for discussion unless it is against what you want. Nothing offensive was written, just not what RTH fan club wanted to see. Good luck.
By MD (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2013 at 23:14:16 in reply to Comment 93146
Actually users can vote down comments that are low quality or trollish, looks like that's what happened here.
By Dm (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2013 at 00:12:35 in reply to Comment 93157
It's not the threshold. I can appreciate there are trolls. My comments are not trolling. Offensive it was not. Down voting a valid opinion is not dialogue. Ryan made a valid opinion. I did not agree with "deform and traumatize" as a result of one way traffic. RTH, valid opinions based on experience and personal opinion are not down vote worthy if you want a true dialogue. Unless protectionist conversation is what you seek. This is exactly the behaviour I believed this site would be against. Join the club or be down voted. Good luck.
By MD (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2013 at 09:59:20 in reply to Comment 93158
You say you live next to Main St. and don't think anything's wrong with it. You're either lying, trolling or just nuts.
By DM (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2013 at 10:03:17 in reply to Comment 93170
Because its a different opinion than yours? Seems like you are trolling my opinion. Seriously? Is the goal to have dialogue here?
By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2013 at 11:24:08 in reply to Comment 93171
Those who have registered generally have a bigger threshold. For instance, I can still see your comments when I'm logged in. Anonymous users are forced to the default threshold - you can register and change your view preferences.
This voting idea is not unique to RTH. Most of the online forums with civilized discussions have a similar system. I think that the quality of dialogue here is significantly better than the comment sections of most mainstream news sites, so the system seems to be working.
No system is perfect, but hardcore disruptive trolls really do get in the way of legitimate discussion so there has to be some mechanism in place.
By DM (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2013 at 13:19:03 in reply to Comment 93174
Agree, but it seems like many use votes purely that they disagree or a comment is not in line with their opinion. To me that is not constructive dialogue and is no better than the council that is criticized often. I participate in the dialogue to not be disruptive, but rather to better understand the opinions of others.
By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2013 at 13:40:19 in reply to Comment 93177
Yeah - unfortunately the way everyone uses the votes can't be restricted. My personal preference is for opinions different from mine to stay 100% visible so that people can see what my rebuttal refers to :-)
By MD (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2013 at 09:57:04 in reply to Comment 93158
"I'm not trolling" says every troll ever.
By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted October 11, 2013 at 22:23:11 in reply to Comment 93146
Actually users can control this threshold
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted October 12, 2013 at 21:18:41
DM, I know what you're talking about. If you are not in line with the RTH party faithful you'll get downvoted. I left commenting a while ago due to that. It's too bad. Dissenting opinions are never a bad thing - they allow all voices to be heard.
By TB (registered) - website | Posted October 13, 2013 at 07:46:55 in reply to Comment 93183
As previously suggested by Cultosaurus, edit your profile and disable comment thresholds.
By Dm (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2013 at 08:44:29 in reply to Comment 93192
Again, it's not the threshold. It's down voting for disagreement. To have effective dialogue, voting should be used for truly offensive and trolling comments, not for dissenting views. I don't believe many RTH fans understand this and use the down votes for protectionist conversation as unregistered users will always experience a -5 threshold. Anyways happy thanksgiving and good luck with the "dialogue".
By TB (registered) - website | Posted October 13, 2013 at 20:03:09 in reply to Comment 93193
If downvoting and upvoting are the expressions of an opinion then they are actually part of the dialogue.
By Dm (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2013 at 07:14:51 in reply to Comment 93202
Nice try. But not when there is obvious bias and a threshold that hides the dissenting view. Anyways.... I'm pretty much over having a relevant discussion on this site. After a little research I've found that Ryan has a "long standing hate-hate relationship with cars". This all makes more sense after finding that.
By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 14, 2013 at 18:05:10 in reply to Comment 93210
OK, I thought you were really here to discuss the topic, but now you're being a troll.
Definition of troll according to Wikipedia: is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
By DM (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2013 at 18:58:19 in reply to Comment 93239
Thats what I was trying to do. Thanks for the definition. Guess its easier to label opposition as trolling. Just forget about.
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