Some Urban Development Please

By Jason Leach
Published September 29, 2006

I read today's column in the Spec by Paul Wilson with some embarrassment.

I wonder if there's anyway we can look at implementing design guidelines along with an Architectural Review Board (ARB) throughout the urban lower city.

I mentioned to Councillor Bernie Morelli a few months ago that I was concerned for future development in his part of town, due to the fact that right now a developer could build a drive-thru Tim's, a gas station or big box commercial with parking and there's no guidelines to prevent it.

I understand that downtown we have a minimum height requirement now (I assume that is now law and somehow this gas station slipped in early) along with bylaws restricting surface parking lots.

I'd like to see us really tighten up our design bylaws for most of the lower city. Being a cyclist and pedestrian is hard enough here, with all the roaring trucks and timed lights, now we're allowing cars and trucks right onto the pedestrian domain.

I work near Main and Gage and sometimes take the Beeline to Main and Sherman and walk down to Gage. It's brutal. The gas station at Main and Blake is horrible, with people trying to speed in and out of there to beat traffic.

Then there's the drive-thru Tim's at Main and Prospect. It's the same: sidewalks blocked and people inching ever closer to my kneecaps to try and speed me out of the way.

We can't allow this to begin to happen all through the downtown or other streets like Barton, King East, Parkdale, and Kenilworth.

Hamilton needs urban design guidelines and an ARB. It's time for Hamilton to follow the lead of other cities, most notably Vancouver, and establish one here.

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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