Wednesday, April 29, 2009

helmet hugs

city walks

Community walks inspired by Jane Jacobs

The Hamilton Spectator, (Apr 29, 2009)

The community spirit of Jane Jacobs is inspiring two neighbourhood walks on the weekend.

Architect Ken Coit will lead a free walking tour of Westdale Saturday at 11 a.m.

Charlie Mattina, who grew up in the James Street North neighbourhood, will lead a tour there Sunday at 1 p.m.

The tours mark Hamilton's first experiences with a program called Jane's Walk, named for urban thinker Jane Jacobs, who wrote about connections between people, buildings and neighbourhoods.

In a Jane's Walk, an organizer leads an informal tour of a neighbourhood, discussing its historical, architectural, social or other characteristics, such as popular shortcuts and local personalities.

Saturday's walk starts at the Westdale branch of the Hamilton Public Library on King Street West. Sunday's starts at the Mixed Media store at James and Cannon streets.

Monday, April 27, 2009

PEARL and POULETTE. well, sort of Poulette...

The Environmental Assessment for three (3) pedestrian crossings of the CP Rail corridor at Poulette Street, Pearl Street and Ray Street has now been completed.

The study assessed the need for the three bridges, the structural condition of the Pearl Street Bridge, and identified the heritage attributes of the Pearl Street Bridge that should be retained during any reconstruction, rehabilitation and/or alteration of the bridge.

The following conclusions were made:

  • a rail corridor crossing at Pearl Street should be retained, but the existing bridge should be replaced for safety reasons
  • the Pearl Street Bridge replacement can likely be completed with minimal net environmental impacts

In addition, Council endorsed the construction of an additional pedestrian crossing at Poulette Street, should alternate funding become available.

The 30-day public review period will extend from Friday April 17, 2009 to Tuesday May 19, 2009. The project plans and other information are available at the studies website as well as in a Project File Report at the following


· Locke Street Library, 285 Locke Street South, tel. 905-546-3492

· Central Public Library, 55 York Blvd, tel. 905-546-3200

· Office of the City Clerk, 77 James Street North, Suite 220, tel. 905-546-2489

· Public Works Department, 77 James Street North, Suite 320, 905-546-2489

If after reviewing the report you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Justin Readman, B.Sc. (Env.)

Project Manager – Environmental Planning

Capital Planning and Implementation Division

Public Works Department, City of Hamilton

77 James Street North, Suite 320

Hamilton, ON L8R2K3

Tel: 905-546-2424 Ext. 2218

Fax: 905-546-4435


If concerns arise regarding this project, which cannot be resolved in discussion with the City, a person or party may request that the Minister of the Environment make an order for the project to comply with Part II of the Environmental Assessment Act (referred to as a Part II order), which addresses individual environmental assessments. Requests must be received by the Minister of the Environment (address provided below) within the 30-day public review period. A copy of the request must also be sent to the City of Hamilton to the attention of Justin Readman (address provided above).

Minister of the Environment

135 St. Clair Avenue West, 12th floor

Toronto Ontario

M4V 1P5

Sunday, April 26, 2009

safer speeds, safer communities

transportation and climate change

Did you know?
In order to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases where they are today, global CO2 emissions would have to be cut by 50 to 60%. (

The graphic above highlights an interesting yet still neglected answer to the climate change challenge: getting away from the car as a default choice in mobility can be the most straightforward way for Ontarians to lower greenhouse gas emissions. We've changed our lightbulbs; can we change our driving habits?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

shut up and drive?

Drivers, get ready to put down those cellphones

TORONTO — Get your hands off those cellphones, Ontario drivers — a new law that bans using hand-held devices to talk, email, or send text messages while behind the wheel was passed today.

The new rules, which won’t come into effect until at least the fall, include a fine of up to $500 as the province joins other jurisdictions in cracking down on drivers using the devices.

“What we’re trying to do is to avoid distractions while people are driving — those distractions being caused, in this case, by electronic devices that are hand-held,” said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley, adding he has no plans to ban eating or drinking coffee in cars.

The law doesn’t affect the use of hands-free devices such as Bluetooths or using cellphones for 911 calls, but it does ban portable video games, MP3 players and DVD players.

Global positioning systems will be allowed, as long as they’re properly secured to the dashboard.
There are no demerit points attached to the bill, but drivers who place others at risk by using one of the banned devices can also be charged under existing careless driving laws.

The law exempts firefighters, police and paramedics, but several other groups have also asked for a pass.

The Transportation Ministry is considering additional exemptions for devices used to dispatch, track and monitor commercial drivers, but said more changes are unlikely.

“There are organizations that have come forward to say (they) believe they should have an exemption,” Bradley said. “We’ll have to evaluate that very carefully.

“We will be extremely reluctant as a government to grant any exemptions unless a very compelling case could be made for that.”

Bradley wouldn’t give a specific date for the ban to take effect, noting it still needs to go through certain legislative processes and an education period so the public learns the rules.

But he said drivers can expect the change to come “later this year, possibly in the fall.”

Hamilton Centre MPP and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she supported the bill, noting if people must communicate while driving, there are hands-free gadgets that allow them to do so.

“Technology exists that can prevent people from having to use a hand-held device, and I think that’s where the biggest concern is in terms of distraction,” she said.

Ontario is the fourth province to enact such a ban, following Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, which in 2003 became the first province to ban the use of hand-held cellphones, the penalties range from $11 to $400 plus four demerit points.

Quebec motorists face fines of $115 plus the loss of three demerit points, while Nova Scotia’s fines start at $164.50 for a first offence and grow to $337 for subsequent offences.

In the first year after Nova Scotia made it illegal for drivers to use hand-held cellphones, close to 2,000 tickets were handed out by police.

In Quebec, the latest statistics show at least 12,000 tickets have been handed out by Montreal and provincial police since last July. Hand-held devices were banned on April 1, 2008, but Quebec drivers were given a three-month grace period.

Manitoba introduced legislation in November that proposed fines of at least $190 for using hand-held cellphones or for smoking while there are children in a vehicle, while Prince Edward Island is also considering a ban.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reclaiming York Downtown

An exciting project with a great deal of potential is due to begin construction this spring 2009 in the downtown - in tandem with the reconstruction of both the Farmer's Market and the Central Library, York Boulevard between Bay and James will become a two-way street with enhanced pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and far more opportunity for an active and invigorating street life: plans include market stalls for the wider sidewalks, and street closure possibilities for special events.
Check out the city web site for more detail.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

car oriented

After walking to the Public Information Centre for the Hamilton Cycling Master Plan at the Downtown Education Centre (it's good to have it downtown), much to my dismay, I encountered a familiar problem: the sign on the front door directing attendees to enter via the rear doors, off the parking lot.

So many public buildings, be they schools, churches, or this downtown ed centre, have altered the original architectural design's function (i.e. front doors) to favour access to parking lots as the way in and out of the building. To be fair, this was an evening event and I was told that the rear doors were used because security for the building wanted it that way. Still, to me, this is a symptom of a culture that expects people to drive cars, and not walk, take transit or cycle to these destinations.

And on the subject of cycling: no bicycle parking was available for those who arrived on two wheels. Shouldn't all public institutions (at least) have adequate bicycle parking to encourage active modes of transportation? Of course they should...
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Friday, April 03, 2009

July 2009 Decision Deadline for Rapid Transit

Ontario cash helps Hamilton move on transit
$3m in provincial study funding will focus on logistics of James-Upper James corridor

The Hamilton Spectator

(Apr 3, 2009)

A $3-million infusion of transit cash is a "strong indication" the province understands the needs of Hamilton, says Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

The funds are slated to help the city push forward on two proposed rapid transit lines, one on the King-Main corridor and the other on the James-Upper James corridor.

"We are clearly positioning ourselves to be part of the ... $11.5-billion Move Ontario funding envelope" that still has $2.5-billion in it, Eisenberger said. Hamilton's two projects are estimated to cost $1 billion.

The new $3 million is part of $9 billion in transit funding announced earlier this week by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The lion's share of the pot, $7.2 billion, went to projects in Toronto, which are closer to starting construction than either of Hamilton's rapid transit lines. Another $1.4 billion was allocated to York Region, north of Toronto.

Bob Nichols, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, said in an e-mail that Hamilton received the money to do work that will help it determine the potential for rapid transit, either light rail -- which council favours -- or buses. The money will help finalize plans for the corridors, he said.

"Decisions on future transit infrastructure funding will be made through the province's capital planning process and in the context of (the) Metrolinx regional transportation plan," Nichols said.

Eisenberger said the amount of cash the city got is "consistent with the way we've positioned our interests ... fully understanding that projects that are ready to go should go."

To date, Hamilton has focused the bulk of its work on the King-Main line, which is ready to be constructed first.

That proposal is now undergoing an analysis by the regional transportation body Metrolinx, which needs to give the thumbs-up before the line moves ahead.

Jill Stephen, director of strategic and environmental planning with the city, said the new funds will help with background work on the trickier James-Upper James corridor.

That work needs to be done before the project can be evaluated by Metrolinx.

"The escarpment provides a bit of a challenge for getting up and down, and the B-line (King-Main) is relatively flat," she said.

"So we want to make sure that we look at the lines together to see how we can co-ordinate all of the efforts."

Stephen said about $600,000 has been spent for work on the King-Main line.

Nicholas Kevlahan, spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail, a residents' group advocating for light rail transit (LRT), said the cash from the province is a good sign.

"I think the fact that they're giving the city this amount of money when they know the city's pushing for LRT is a positive sign," he said.

City staff are planning to hold public information sessions in June to provide citizens with an update.

The Metrolinx board will make a decision on the city's King-Main line in July.