Could Hamilton Become a Happy City?

By Ben Bull
Published December 18, 2013

The Toronto Star recently published a review of the book Happy City by Charles Montgomery. I haven't read it myself (I leave it to RTH Editor Ryan McGreal to do all the heavy lifting) but it certainly sounds snappy:

"According to one study, divorce rates spike 40 per cent when commutes exceed 45 minutes." (Who knew?)

"Many dispersal families are economically fragile, spending 40 per cent-plus of their income maintaining car(s)." (Sounds about right.)

Montgomery cites the usual unsustainable statistics associated with sprawl, and bemoans the lack of any political will to do anything about it. But he also gives us a happy twist.

"...cities are becoming 'happiness generators' via inventive urban design. Take Paris, whose Seine-side Pompidou Expressway morphs during the summer into a beach complete with palm streets. Or Copenhagen, whose garbage incinerator does double-duty as a ski hill."

And let's not forget Sundays in Bogotá, where cars are replaced on its grand aviendas - with cyclists!

Sounds like fun. Can you imagine the Lincoln Alexander Cross-County Trail? Or the Jolley Cut doing double duty as a Black Diamond...?

Sure, it might never happen in the Hammer, but as the reviewer notes, "Happy City is just an election away."

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2013 at 09:22:09

Employed Labour Force Aged 15 Years and Over in the Hamilton CMA, as of the 2011 National Household Survey:

• 14,800 pedestrian commuters, average commute time 12.8 minutes
• 2,425 cyclist commuters, average commute time 21.1 minutes.
• 275,405 car/truck/van commuters, average commute time 25.6 minutes
• 405 motorcycle/scooter/moped commuters, average commute time 26.8 minutes
• 30,245 public transit commuters, average commute time 47.4 minutes

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 25, 2013 at 14:22:12 in reply to Comment 96081

So the majority of people drive in Hamilton to go to work with a commute time of 25 minutes, which according to the divorce rate numbers is well under 45 minutes. So the argument against changing the status quo and increasing the time of driver commute time in Hamilton, who I may add are the overwhelming majority over all the other groups by a scale of about 5.75 to 1 is what exactly?

What I draw from this is public transit needs to be improved. Both via better GO Service and upgrading existing local transit. The Bus lane on King seems to be a reasonable step, as is LIUNA station's GO station. As would expanding bus service and yes (assuming higher government fronts the cost) an LRT.

I also draw that people cycling to work are 0.1% of working commuters in the city, which is an incredibly small minority, which I draw from this means more infrastructure should be generated to encourage cycling, but not at the cost of major car/truck/van routes and blatantly disregarding the overwhelming majority. IE putting routes at sensible locations like say Canon, or Charlton/Cumberland, or South Bend/Bendamere/Macassa and not disrupt major car traffic veins like Mohawk Rd, Main/King/ Burlington St, the LINC, Rymal Rd. etc.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-12-25 14:27:25

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By the monkey went to the market (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2013 at 11:23:08

So what you are saying is that the people who can't afford to own a car, or who can't drive or walk everywhere (ie. The poor, disabled, and young)
, oh and the people who just don't want to drive a car (yes they exist) don't deserve to be happy?

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By wat (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2013 at 11:58:56 in reply to Comment 96093

Umm, that's exactly the opposite of what he's saying.

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By the monkey went to the market (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2013 at 11:46:05 in reply to Comment 96096

My interpretation is, he is pointing out the majority of the population should be happy based on the average 25.6 minute commuting time by car therefore the status quo is acceptable... Which it is not.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2013 at 22:17:56

According to the numbers above almost 6 times as many people drive to work than all other modes combined. Why does anyone else get a say? When that big a majority of people do the same thing then the city needs to cater to them. They in effect drive the city's economy. (Pun intended)

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By George (registered) | Posted December 19, 2013 at 00:51:02 in reply to Comment 96130

Many car commuters, if not most, hate their commute. Many are forced to, due to lack of alternatives. Let people choose. Make no mistake, the car will always remain a choice. Such choices, as proven elsewhere, will only help the majority drivers.

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By Reality (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2013 at 22:26:30 in reply to Comment 96137

I'd hate it even more if I hate to use a bus or a bike.

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted December 23, 2013 at 16:56:35

People should not have to commute, if there were enough jobs here. Commuting stressed me out, big time. A happy city, in my view would allow for all voices to speak and then in true democratic forum, which would take a fairly long time to just to get people to stand up and fight for maybe one or two issues.

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By David88 (anonymous) | Posted December 26, 2013 at 15:13:06

What we need is government to be finally on the side of the people and force big business to locate to areas other than Toronto. Why can't Bell Canada, some banks, Rogers, and of course, Tim Hortons relocate to downtown Hamilton. Extremely large cities like Toronto are no longer a suitable place to live for most people - especially the young who aspire to have families. The necessity to commute greatly indicates this. Decentralizing Toronto to 10 cities across Ontario would be a blessing both for the people and the economy of Ontario.

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By Cool, you're for urban sprawl (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2014 at 00:13:52 in reply to Comment 96363

That's cool. Urban sprawl is exactly what this website advocates for.

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By Reality (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2013 at 22:29:40 in reply to Comment 96363

So what you are saying is you want to turn Hamilton into the mess that Toronto is when it comes to commuting. You are assuming that everyone would want to live in an apartment close to where they work and use public transit.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 12, 2014 at 09:21:29

This excellent opinion piece by Toby Yull on how to energize the space in and around the Hamilton Farmer’s Market is a must read for Hamilton City Council and their challengers in the 2014 municipal election.

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