Special Report: Walkable Streets

Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association Responds to 'Divisive and Sarcastic' Motion

Neighbourhood association calls on Council to remove negative language, ensure any proposed solution is balanced and inclusive, and avoid duplicating staff work already underway.

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 10, 2016

The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association (KNA) has formally responded to Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead's mean-spirited, divisive traffic motion, which he plans to present at tomorrow's City Council meeting. The KNA letter was submitted to the City Clerk yesterday and will be included as a communication item in the agenda for the meeting.

The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association represents Ward 1's Kirkendall Neighbourhood, which extends from Queen Street to Highway 403 and from the Escarpment to Main Street West. The Ward 8 Councillor's motion is calculated to mock and undermine a Council-approved motion to study traffic calming and safety improvements on Aberdeen Avenue between Queen Street and Longwood Road, a stretch running right through Kirkendall.

Aberdeen Avenue during PM rush hour (RTH file photo)
Aberdeen Avenue during PM rush hour (RTH file photo)

The letter calls out Councillor Whitehead's motion for being "clearly sarcastic in its tone about lower City residents' concerns about their health and safety," and disputes both Whitehead's characterization of the Council-approved Aberdeen safety motion and his claim that the goal of traffic calming is to "create a higher levels [sic] of congestion."

It propose three amendments: removing the "divisive and sarcastic language", adding that any proposed solutions must "take a balanced approach", and that it does not duplicate staff work already underway to study citywide traffic as part of the Transportation Master Plan review and light rail transit planning.

Following is the text of the KNA letter.

Dear Honourable Mayor and Council:

Re: Implications of Lower City Traffic Changes that have Put Additional Pressures on Mountain Road Networks Motion

The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association (KNA) is writing to express its concerns about the subject Motion from Councillor Whitehead. Before you approve this motion there are some consideration points we would like to bring to your attention. We will be brief so that we can be respectful of your time but please note each point can be expanded or elaborated on in the event of questions.

  • Available resources: The area identified in the motion (Scenic Drive, Garth, West 5th, Fennell, Beckett Drive and the West 5th Hill) is a large geographical area and as such has significant impact on staff workloads. Our understanding is that City staff are already studying the traffic implications of the LRT and its construction on a city wide scale. As taxpayers, we want to ensure this is a feasible request for staff to undertake and that the costs and use of resources are justified.

  • User implications: The motion proposes changing the way both the West 5th Hill and Beckett Drive operate. This would have a significant impact on not only resident users, but also two major Hamilton institutions - St. Joseph's Hamilton Healthcare and Mohawk College. Do they support this request?

  • Health and safety concerns: This motion is clearly sarcastic in its tone about lower City residents' concerns about their health and safety. Is this the message city council wishes to send to both Hamiltonians and the Province?

  • Aberdeen request reference is incorrect: The KNA has not asked for Aberdeen to be reduced to 2 lanes. In December, we asked the General Issues Committee once the Transportation Master Plan is complete to direct city engineers to do a full review of Aberdeen with a focus on making it a more complete street (a street respectful of all users including cars, cyclists and pedestrians). We have also asked for immediate action on identified safety concerns in key areas.

  • Complete streets: There is no evidence to suggest that traffic calming measures necessarily create road congestion. Complete Streets and other rebalancing transportation measures are supported by the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers (CITE) and the American National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). These organizations are comprised of thousands of Engineers and other professionals who are, by law, required to make recommendations on solutions that are safe, technically sound and evidence-based.

In conclusion, we would like this motion revised to satisfy the following points:

  1. All divisive and sarcastic language is removed and the reference to our Aberdeen request be corrected;

  2. Any proposed solutions take on a balanced approach; and,

  3. The study is feasible for staff to undertake and incorporates work already being done by the Transportation Master Plan and LRT reviews.

We hope you will take the above into consideration as you debate this motion.

For a further examination of this motion, Ryan McGreal has published a review of this motion on Raise the Hammer. The article can be found at: An Annotated Tour of Councillor Whitehead's Latest Traffic Motion.

Thanking you in advance, warm regards,
Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted May 10, 2016 at 10:56:10

Thanks to the KNA for submitting this.

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By one comment? (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2016 at 14:36:33

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted May 10, 2016 at 18:54:42 in reply to Comment 118423

I don't really comprehend your meaning here. Are you suggesting that the political career of one person will be longer than the life spans of a group of diverse individuals concerned about their community?

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 11, 2016 at 12:19:32

Isn't today the council meeting where the motion will be "voted on" or am I wrong? I would love to know the results of the motion, whether it passes or not!

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By JWilbur (registered) | Posted May 11, 2016 at 13:02:25

Wonderful response to Whitehead from the KNA, keep up the good work. Let's keep choking people like him by jamming their own words right back down their own throats!

Comment edited by JWilbur on 2016-05-11 13:02:50

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 11, 2016 at 17:49:45

Is there any way to watch Hamilton Council meetings on line?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2016 at 10:53:46

Anyone know what happened to this motion on May 11?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2016 at 11:27:25 in reply to Comment 118473

Councillor Whitehead withdrew it and replaced it with another notice of motion asking staff to evaluate "urbanizing" streets on the mountain (adding sidewalks etc.) and pointing to increasing support for more "urban" street designs.

This sounds like a good idea that suggests he has suddenly decided to support the kind of complete streets initiatives he has consistently opposed in the lower city until you get to his completely gratuitous attack on efforts for safer more complete streets in the lower city:

WHEREAS, the city has a responsibility to prioritize fundamental safety in neighbourhoods over enhancements in other areas that are already adequately urbanized;

which makes it clear that this motion is aimed not really at making streets safer and more complete on the mountain, but is just another attempt to undermine similar efforts in the lower city. It really is just a continuation of his indirect attacks on the Aberdeen proposal that he been opposing since last year with a string of different motions and most recently with the motion that was so offensive to Kirkendall residents.

Who is he to tell residents in other parts of the city that they are "already adequately urbanized" (whatever that means)?

And why does this need to be a choice? He can work for complete streets in his ward, and he should let residents and councillors in other wards do the same. This doesn't need to be a zero sum divisive issue!

Remember that Councillor Whitehead has had over 13 years to work to add sidewalks and crosswalks to streets in his ward. Why claim this is an absolute priority now that should trump similar efforts elsewhere?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-12 11:49:02

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