Wilson Street Redevelopment an Inspiration for Downtown Hamilton

By Jason Leach
Published July 04, 2012

Bike lanes. New sidewalks. Accessible, pedestrian-friendly streetscaping. New pedestrian crossings. Benches. Trees. Landscaping. Two-way traffic. Protection of heritage buildings.

And the enthusiastic support of an "absolutely thrilled" Councillor Lloyd Ferguson?

The City just unveiled a newly reopened Wilson Street between Fiddler's Green Road and Halson Street, fresh off four months of comprehensive redevelopment.

It's great for Ancaster that its central business district will now benefit from a complete streets approach that accommodates all road users and benefits local business. Hamilton is a city of many communities and we need to support all of them to deliver the best possible quality of life and opportunities.

Now that Councillor Ferguson seems to understand the role of complete, healthy streets in community building and economic well being, let's hope he can apply that understanding to downtown Hamilton's struggling thoroughfares.

Right now they're totally car-centric: multi-lane one-way traffic flows, timed lights, skinny sidewalks, no bike lanes, and street retail businesses barely hanging onto life.

All we want is what every successful urban central business district has: complete, balanced, walkable streets that are safe for pedestrians, welcoming for cyclists and good for business.

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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By Core-B (registered) | Posted July 04, 2012 at 18:34:24

But he said that they've spent enough on the downtown. Arghhh.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 04, 2012 at 20:07:00

That stretch looks really nice. I was up there on the weekend and drove on part of it (not realizing it wasn't fully open yet :P)

However, there's not a whole lot of stuff to "do" along there - you've got a strip mall in one section on one side, a cluster of commercial on the other, then some houses, then a used car dealer, then houses.. I don't know how much walking goes on along there. I know there's a path that cuts behind the strip mall where the Tim Hortons used to be but I've only seen it rarely used.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 05, 2012 at 11:25:11 in reply to Comment 79193

Walking is virtually non-existent on this street. It also serves as a pretty quick moving thoroughfare that, as a pedestrian, you're better off avoiding.

Biking, some. But most bikers head for the quieter residential areas and trails. Other than new pavement, not entirely sure what objective was achieved by this multi-month closure.

Guess I'll see soon enough.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 05, 2012 at 14:18:16 in reply to Comment 79215

Again, this is kind of my point - this stretch wasn't clamouring for a complete street. I don't hear Ancaster residents complaining about lack of bike lanes, trees, benches or nice sidewalks....yet they were given them. Downtown, residents and businesses have been begging for years for this.
If it's good enough for a rich suburb, surely it's good enough for the heart of the city and Code Red hoods.... or is it??....

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 06, 2012 at 15:03:00 in reply to Comment 79224

Good point, Jason. I'm an Ancasteriod (aka Dweller of the Lloyd Ferguson Realm) and, while I'd obviously like to keep streets here in decent repair, I'd rather see larger, more grand projects be done in areas of the city where it benefits the most number of people and where its most needed.

Not sure Wilson Street in Ancaster would be on that list. People forget that a strong downtown Hamilton benefits Ancaster.

And, vice versa, a net-draining downtown has a negative impact up the hill.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2012 at 21:42:30 in reply to Comment 79294

you're exactly right...there's only one taxpayer. I personally don't mind sprucing up our smaller 'downtowns' like Dundas, Westdale, Ancaster etc.... I think they are wonderful pieces of Hamilton life and culture. But I agree with you - we're shooting ourselves in the foot by ignoring downtown. Only downtown Hamilton has the potential to add tens of thousands of residents and tens of thousands of jobs, using existing urban services. Hundreds or thousands of new small businesses can flourish on a revitalized King, Main, James and John . And this benefits every single taxpayer from Winona to Copetown. Everyone knows this - especially on council - which makes it even more baffling to see them constantly balk at converting downtown's streets into safe, vibrant, complete streets.
We've seen it work on James St, John South, Locke, Ottawa and Augusta....along with great examples in TO like College, Queen, King etc.... why not here??

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By beancounter (registered) | Posted July 04, 2012 at 21:38:02

I am pleased to see the complete streets approach as mentioned by Jason. I have to wonder though about his comments with regard to benefits for the Ancaster CBD.

As DowntowninHamilton indicates in his comment there isn't that much there. Perhaps the redevelopment of the street will attract more businesses, but where would they go?

Trouble is, Ancaster doesn't really have much of a central business district; that was pre-empted by the Meadowlands power centre, which of course presents a complete antithesis to what's been done on the new section of Wilson Street.

Is this a case of too little, too late or can we hope that this shining example will be an inspiration for the numerous streets in Hamilton badly in need of a fresh approach?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 04, 2012 at 21:41:41 in reply to Comment 79196

if anything, the fact that Ancaster - with not much to do - was deemed fit for a complete street, should make it even easier to make the case for downtown where there are tons of businesses, people, street-facing retail units and people trying to get around in all modes of transportation. I realize nobody will ever use the bike lanes in Ancaster, but i'm glad they are there....downtown there are a lot of cyclists...don't they deserve lanes??
The councillor made the comment that this new street will be good for business. I would like all of us to remind him of that comment the next time he opposes initiatives to convert Main and King to safe, business-friendly two-way streets.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-07-04 21:41:55

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted July 05, 2012 at 10:10:06

I did a double-take when I read this headline. Then I realized that you meant Wilson Street in _Ancaster_.

By comparison, when Wilson Street in Hamilton was redeveloped, it got no bike lanes, no pedestrian-friendly streetscaping, no new pedestrian crossings, no benches, no trees, and no landscaping. It did get a yellow line, although with three eastbound lanes and synchronized eastbound traffic it still counts as a TWINO.

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