Revitalization

Walkable Neighbourhoods Are Vital Infrastructure For Creative Industries

By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 11, 2012

The Spectator recently gave front-page coverage to a new report from the Chamber of Commerce that found that "Hamilton should invest in making its neighbourhoods walkable and accessible if it wants the local creative industry to continue to grow."

In response, I wrote the following letter to the editor. They didn't publish it, so I'm sharing it here instead.

UPDATE: They just called to let me know that they are publishing it, in Saturday's paper. Thanks, Spectator!

As part-owner of a creative business, the study that found walkability is critically important to attracting, retaining and growing creative businesses comes as no surprise.

The corollary is that low-density sprawl criss-crossed by one-way thoroughfares is stifling the growth of this important economic sector.

That doesn't need to remain the case. Hamilton should certainly keep pushing forward with its LRT plans but given the necessity of provincial funding for that project, its ultimate fate is not entirely within our hands. We do have the means, however, to convert our one-way streets to two-way.

Two-way streets are economically more healthy than one-way streets. They nurture the variety of businesses and amenities that are important to making walking a viable mode of transportation. They are also far more pleasant to walk down, as anyone who has walked along James Street North and Main Street can attest.

It's no accident that a disproportionate number of creative companies are found on two-way streets like James, John, and Locke. Convert more of our one-way streets to two-way streets with wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and ample transit opportunities and creative companies will flock to them.

I've only recently become aware of just how important the creative industry is to Ontario's economy. According to the government of Ontario the industry is responsible for $12.2 billion of Ontario's GDP annually, which is "now larger than Ontario's energy industry, is approaching 70% of the auto manufacturing sector and surpasses those of agriculture, forestry and mining sectors combined."

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

11 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By tlub (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:48:28

Walkability is so important! I love living downtown and not needing a car, and I look forward to the transportation improvements Hamilton will soon have!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By simonge (registered) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:15:10

Well said Adrian! To me this seems to be low hanging fruit for our city. The costs to do it aren't unreasonable, it can start soon and the impact would be huge.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Codex (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:33:10

As far as a working definition goes, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport notes: "This group of creative industries includes the following sectors: recorded music, TV, advertising, video games, filmed entertainment revenues (incl. box offices), book publishing, consumer magazines, and Internet (wired and mobile) advertising, which is used to indicate the rapid growth of Internet and mobile content."

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2012 at 16:37:08

The thing is that the traditional industries that have an interest in our current layout (the suburban home-builders, the truckers, etc.) they all already have a tremendous presence at city hall because they have to do business with the city to get anything done. They're already on a first-name basis with the bureaucracy and know who to talk to when they need the city to move in their favour.

Meanwhile, the creative industry hasn't had to meet and manage every person at city hall for permits and plans and whatnot. So they're outsiders and don't have a place at the table to push this.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Speclettersquota (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 16:57:19

The Spec is publishing your letter to meet a sort of quota, enforced by Metroland--Torstar: at least 33.3% of Spec letters to the editor must NOT advance bigotry, opinionated false or ignorant "facts", attacks on other people (the Spec's often silly "the letter writer"), nor must this 1/3 of letters say that other writers had certain motives. The 1/3 must not be anti-queer (even if they don't exactly say that) nor think that white Christians are under assault and horribly discriminated against. They must also not assert that Jews who are worried about Israeli gov't policy are probably self-hating Jewish antisemites.
That leaves 2/3 for all the rest of the insufferable drivel--but that's just my own view, understand.
Your letter helps meet the 1/3 quota of sane, thoughtful, factually researched and accurate, persuasive, thought-provoking letters. If the Spec somewhat resents this quota it's because IT TAKES MORE WORK for them at the paper, and of course for the letter writers.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Today (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2012 at 20:44:51

Sidewalks that are safe to walk on. Sounds good to me.

Permalink | Context

By Avant-Hier (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2012 at 07:56:02 in reply to Comment 76848

Of course, the report weights walkability success around the analysis from WalkScore, whose algorithms has no way of evaluating or grading street design.

Unfortunate that small business patterns as well as general population patterns are left out of this walkability/transit analysis.

I'm encouraged by this news, though it should be remembered that the Chamber is basically finally geting around to endorsing the philosophy that the city put forward in 2002's Downtown Secondary and 2003's Downtown Mobility Streets Master Plans.

Here's the HCoC/CCS report, BTW:

http://www.hamiltonchamber.ca/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=986&Itemid=96

IMHO, the transit scoring findings are far more revealing than the WalkScore findings, which were barely news at last year's summit.

Unfortunate that small business patterns as well as general population patterns are left out of this walkability/transit analysis. If you're looking to spur investment and drive policy, you think you'd want to demonstrate that the benefits extend beyond one of six economic sectors.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Got it wrong (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2012 at 14:22:37

Hamilton's one way streets are predominantly downtown. Not in the "...low-density sprawl..." One thing has nothing to do with the other. You are entitled to like 2 way streets better than 1 way streets but they are no safer. For every opinion one way you can find one the other. If 2 way streets are actually conducive to creating creative companies than why are there not many thousands of them on the myriad miles of 2 way streets in the city. Flawed logic all through the letter simply showing your biases. Please do not try and promote your prejudices as facts.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Today (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2012 at 20:25:04

Adrian write excellent pieces but he writes from his total personal biases and emotion and that is his strength, facts and evidence are his weakness. But he is a likeable read at any rate.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Tony (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 16:24:58

Hamilton Magazine's newest Weekly Poll has to do with the conversion of Main Street back to Two-Way. So far, 100% of respondents support Two-Way conversion!

You can vote here: www.hamiltonmagazine.com

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By djfern (registered) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 11:39:12

Congrats on getting the letter published!

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds