Monday, June 09, 2008

ups and downs

Ted Brellisford, the Hamilton Spectator
Step up ... to a new view

The Hamilton Spectator, (Jun 9, 2008)

The long-awaited east Mountain stairs are finally open.

Despite opposition and delays, metal steps leading from the Escarpment Rail Trail to Mountain Brow Boulevard are cemented into the landscape.

"It's long overdue," said cyclist Jay Jespersen, 31, out for a ride during yesterday's blazing heat.

The steps are located about 300 metres east of the lower set, which run from the trail to Kimberly Drive near the Kenilworth Traffic Circle.

Although Jespersen likes having the new steps as a point of access to the Mountain, he would've liked to have seen the stairs continue farther down.

"It'd just be nice to have a straight run up," he said.

Construction on the steps started last fall after the province gave the city the go-ahead in the spring.

Area residents opposed to the stairs were unhappy with the Niagara Escarpment Commission's decision to allow construction and took their appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal.

The tribunal approved the project, but because of a technical error in documents, the final decision was bumped up to then minister of natural resources David Ramsay.

Residents were concerned the stairs would bring an undesirable element and destroy a treed section of the escarpment.

Wendy Darby, wife of residents' spokesperson Grant Darby, said so far there haven't been any huge issues with the stairs.

"Now that they're here, we'll probably use them," she said.

Darby said there has been an increase in the number of parked cars in front of the couple's home and she has seen a number of youths hanging around the stairs.

She also suggested that, given the traffic changes and increased pedestrian traffic, a proper pedestrian crosswalk at the corner of Mountain Brow and Margate Avenue would be a good idea.

Before the metal steps were built, residents relied on Uli's Steps, a homemade construction of 145 stairs, to get down to the rail trail. A second homemade set continues down to near the Rosedale pool.

Rita Leonard, 47, still uses Uli's Steps although she has also been using the new stairs since they opened.

"These ones are a little bit more challenging," she said, noting that the metal construction seems steeper.

The city is planning an official opening for the stairs for June 25.


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