Comment 77143

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 11:11:43 in reply to Comment 77128

I can see your initial points, but separating ideology from issues is something that is very difficult to do. Issues are often born of ideology. For example, on the issue of one-way streets, those whose ideology is pro-pedestrian may believe one-way streets are unacceptable and that two-way conversion is a necessity. However, those whose ideology is focused on efficient movement of automobiles across the city may not see one-ways as an issue at all.

I don't think there's a way to handle downtown renewal without the presence of ideologies. I think the major challenge in dealing with downtown renewal is balancing them. And maybe a little education will help people realize their positions are not as divergent as they may at first think.

Hamiltion downtown's economic problem is primarily triggered from higher than normal automobile speed on certain selective segments of major arteries. The core issue here is that of 'speed' and less that of 'direction'.

I would argue there is no primary trigger for the problem. It's been a combination of factors that have been at work, traffic flow among them, influencing an evolution that has been decades-long. And the factors have been inter-related and have worked in concert.

One could point to:


  • The shifting patterns of ethnic groups, incomes classes, family types

Economic restructuring

  • Loss of major manufacturing, which has affected supporting sectors including those based downtown
  • Slow growth in alternative sectors
  • Change in tax assessment base, from majority industrial to majority residential, and its effect on city budgets

Suburban growth

  • Changes in the retail geography of the city, shifting patterns of activity
  • Failure to adapt to change, downtown forgotten for a time at the expense of new growth on the fringe
  • Downtown no longer the main locus of activity in the city

Urban renewal strategies

  • Heavy focus on 'magic bullet' solutions
  • Redevelopments that have been too revolutionary, without trying to be adaptive or integrative
  • Inward-facing block design that does not harmonize with street activity

City policies

  • Property tax rules that have created disincentives to immediate re-purposing of vacant buildings and land
  • Complex development rules that can be both prohibitive or overly-relaxed depending on location or situation
  • Convoluted processes to handle the needs of business and residents, adding to the inertia of change


  • Urban/suburban split in political views
  • Ward-focused perspectives emphasized over city/region
  • Disconnect between councilors and constituents, lack of engagement
  • Inability of council to work together to resolve issues and create solutions
  • Leadership and communicating a vision
  • Marketing the city, both within and beyond borders
  • Defeatist attitude, particularly among disenchanted citizens


  • Priority-setting
  • Lack of a coordinated vision that includes all modes
  • Limited finances to spread across rehabilitation and expansion, divided amongst the modes
  • Automobile traffic flow mismatched with pedestrian and cycling flow

That's hardly an exhaustive list - just my morning musings, and there are probably more. But in my view, all have played a role in the situation that exists today, to varying degrees. Some have been improving, some not. (And admittedly some have been worded according to my personal ideologies)

Perhaps the best way to approach this is to help those of differing ideologies to look at the broader issues from other points of view, acknowledge the varying perspectives, find common ground, and discuss solutions from there?

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2012-05-21 11:26:29

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