Downtown Hamilton Deserves the Opportunity for Success

By Jason Leach
Published September 04, 2012

I am a downtown resident and would like to offer my support for the motion by Councillor McHattie surrounding two-way street conversions.

I have lived downtown for 11 years by choice and am raising my family here by choice. Despite the bad image our downtown may have to outsiders, as residents here we have only ever had one major complaint since the day we moved here: the one-way freeways.

They are life-sucking, business-killing and extremely dangerous to children, families and the elderly. What should be a simple five-minute walk to the shops of Locke Street involves crossing 10 lanes of roaring traffic that is nothing more than an extension of Hwy 403.

This should not be the case in 2012 when we talk about grand goals of getting kids outside, walking and playing in their neighbourhoods.

As far as I can tell, almost every one-way street in Hamilton is downtown in Wards 1-3.

I have never once heard a resident or councillor start a campaign or petition to bring one-way streets to any neighbourhood in Wards 4-15. In other words, they don't have any and don't want any. We don't either.

Downtown has come so far recently, in spite of a hostile environment to pedestrians and business. The creative class has led the charge to save downtown and as we know from world-wide research, they will come in droves to a city with a high quality of life. That means bike lanes, calm traffic, street trees, LRT, sidewalk patios and historic buildings.

Hamilton can offer all of this, and more. We simply need the leadership to make it happen.

Portland, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Fran, NYC and Ottawa have all made huge strides in their urban quality of life regardless of climate, city size or economic hardship. Each city has had one consistent means to make it happen: Leadership.

I urge you to lead Hamilton into the future by listening to its residents of the future.

The things that worked in 1960 don't work today. Even major planning and consulting firms understand this. The same company that recommended Hamilton go one-way in 1956 now supports "linking communities and businesses, developing environmentally sensitive growth strategies, and improving economic prosperity."

I find it ironic that the majority of residents and councillors who oppose two-way street conversions live in neighbourhoods with no one-way freeways.

It's time to allow downtown Hamilton the same opportunity for success that we offer the rest of the city, including our bustling downtowns in Ancaster, Dundas and Stoney Creek.

I wouldn't wish one-way streets on any neighbourhood in our city, including my own.

Note: this was submitted to the City Clerk as correspondence. If you support two-way streets, please take a few minutes to send a letter before noon on Wednesday, September 5. Address it to "Chair and Members, General Issues Committee".

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 markalanwhittle (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 11:31:01

I completely agree, get rid of one-way streets downtown as soon as possible. City Hall made them one-way overnight originally, so jut do the reverse, should be easier now.

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By Salome (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 12:31:13 in reply to Comment 80383

Agreed. Except for installing traffic lights/signs, it's a snap!

Would that restoring downtown to its grandeur could be as quick and simple as making a parking lot out of an elegant Victorian building.

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By The X Guy (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 12:50:03

"As far as I can tell, almost every one-way street in Hamilton is downtown in Wards 1-3. "

Good letter, just one little correction (and its just an FYI), but there is at least one other one-way in Hamilton outside the mentioned wards - Viewpoint Ave near Henderson hospital. Since there are 2 churches on this relatively short, narrow, 2 lane road where parishioners commonly park on the road, it would impossible to be two way (unless curb side parking is prohibited) ....just a little Hamilton trivia.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:01:34 in reply to Comment 80393

yea, there is the odd other one. I've seen a couple minor ones in Dundas and Mountain etc.... Didn't know about Viewpoint.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 14:20:38 in reply to Comment 80394

Ever tried to make a left hand turn off King St in Dundas between 4 and 6pm on a weekday? Between the one ways and the turning restrictions, you have to traverse most of the downtown before you can go left. Oh the joys of one-ways and over-engineered streets. Grrr...

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 15:31:05

Check out the most recent post at  Marvin Ryder was first to comment.  The reason that I mention this is that a person with the handle "downtowner" responded to Mr. Ryder.  I wish I knew who he is.  I'd love to send him a note telling him that his post was BRILLIANT. If you're a regular here downtowner, thanks.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 07:00:24

You don't live downtown if you live off of Dundurn. Just sayin'.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 08:40:01

Letter sent, here is an excerpt:

My concern for the safety of our streets increased recently with the birth of our twin sons. As an able-bodied 27 year old, I will admit that I have no problem navigating our city's streets by foot or bicycle. However, navigating our narrow sidewalks next to fast moving one-way traffic with a double stroller has made it painfully apparent that our streets are unacceptably dangerous for children, families, the elderly, and other vulnerable Hamiltonians. As my sons become more mobile, I'm sure my concerns will only grow.

I respectfully ask that as you consider this important motion, you consider it from the perspective of our most vulnerable citizens, particularly those who don't have a voice themselves.

Comment edited by kdslote on 2012-09-05 08:40:26

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 07:50:49 in reply to Comment 80440

I understand your concern, but double strollers are hardly the standard. We can't enlarge everything for a small subset of parents.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 11:22:06 in reply to Comment 80579

He's not talking about enlarging everything. He's talking about making modest changes to our streets to give some consideration to people other than motorists.

I can say from personal experience that traveling along Wilson Street with a single stroller became much, much more comfortable after two-way conversion (even a crappy two-way conversion). Particularly on the north sidewalk adjacent to the relatively light westbound traffic.

Do you seriously argue that the needs of young children shouldn't be taken into account in designing our streets?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 08:58:37 in reply to Comment 80579

Double strollers are hardly the purview of a 'small subset' of parents. In addition to the parents of multiples, they are used by parents with two or more children close in age, as well as caregivers and day cares. Frankly they are as common a sight as single strollers in family-oriented neighborhoods, and even if they weren't, common decency, not to mention liability, requires us to accommodate them.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 19:36:37

63,861 = Number of eligible voters in Wards 1-3 (2010)
23,625 = Number of ballots cast by residents of Wards 1-3 in 2010 Municipal Election
23,400 = Number of jobs in Downtown Hamilton (2010)
8,512 = Number of residents in Downtown Hamilton (2006)

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