A Charter for Motorists

By Jason Leach
Published April 03, 2006

Hamilton might develop a pedestrian charter?

Wow. It would be quite strange to walk the streets of this city and feel slightly more important than roadkill. I thought the only people who mattered were the ones with two SUVs in the driveway who conduct all their daily affairs through drive-thru windows.

It's ironic that five pages after this story was one called "Supersize seats for supersize kids". Perhaps spending their entire childhood in cars and fast food restaurants is taking a toll on our children. That's not to mention the enormous costs of treating disease brought on by obesity and pollution.

Evelyn Myrie finished off today's Spectator trifecta with a piece about downtown Hamilton looking like a "dump [link opens a PDF]". That's what happens when city hall decides that only businesses with massive parking lots will survive.

Many downtown neighbourhoods in Hamilton have high family incomes and a population density similar to bustling, vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto. The difference? Hamilton has been killed by the car.

Streets like King, Main, Barton and others have to compete with sprawling suburbs a mere ten minutes away (60+ minutes by bus) with huge parking lots.

Even the good news of $117 million in downtown redevelopment has a dark side. City hall has forced every developer of these downtown condo projects to provide one car space per unit.

200 units on King William equals 200 cars. Again, only businesses with huge neighbourhood-busting lots will survive and gain business. Pedestrians in Hamilton are regarded as a nuisance along with cyclists and transit users.

The problem is, back when cities were built properly, it was known that humans buy goods from local shops, not speeding cars. Hamilton has abandoned its urban lower city and has now gone as far as forcing downtown developers to provide space for more cars that can zip out to the suburbs on a whim.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think that our city is run by Imperial Oil and GM! Will someone please speed up the advent of peak oil? Our city can't take much more of this.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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