Saturday, January 29, 2011


bike lanes that just end, bike routes that don't connect.

The cancellation of an east-west bike lane across the east mountain leaves that area with no alternatives either in place or promised in the cycling master plan. The veto power invoked by the ward councillor to block the Queensdale Avenue route wasn’t specifically provided for in the council resolution or in the debate that led up to it but seems to have become an accepted practice.
Tom Jackson cancelled the 3.2 kilometre route last year despite its inclusion in the approved master plan and the Queensdale Avenue reconstruction went ahead without it. Jackson’s opposition to commuter cycling facilities could threaten three other approved bike lanes in his ward.
The master plan went before the city’s public works committee in June 2009 prompting Jackson to voice some concerns. Initially he askedif voting for it would mean “that I’m supporting what looks like about 300 or more cycling links that have been highlighted in this report.”
Traffic chief Hart Solomon replied that “the intention is to implement the network as shown” but noted that at the master planning stage “you can’t perceive every circumstance, every constraint, that you’re going to run into”.
Jackson said the response made him “nervous” and asked if staff would push ahead if “there’s feedback from community” and “they feel overwhelmingly it’s just not going to work”, or would staff be willing to abandon some proposed lanes. Solomon indicated a willingness to do so, but stressed the importance of “continuity” in the cycling network.
“It’s sort of the weakest link in the chain approach.  If there’s a kilometer or kilometer and a half the cyclist doesn’t feel comfortable riding, he will not make the journey,” he explained. “But having said that, we depend on the support of the members of council and council as a whole in implementing this and will simply, as the note up there says, on contentious issues we’re going to work with you and try and work our way through this.” 
“At the end of the day, if it’s simply not possible then the plan will have to be revised,” Solomon continued.  “There’s a possibility after 5 years we’ll revise, certainly after 10, and we’ll have to revise the plan to find alternate routes to achieve the continuity we need in the network.”
Jackson went on to repeat that he was “just not detecting a clamouring from a large number of our citizenry from a commuter standpoint to spend the money, taxpayer money, to convert a lot of our road network”, although he was supportive of strictly recreational trail development. He subsequently sought an alteration to the staff request for endorsement of the master plan.
“Could I respectfully suggest that after the word ‘endorse’ could I put in an amendment conditional upon individual links being subject to community feedback in consultation with the ward councilor in affected neighbourhoods,” he moved. “That captures what Mr. Solomon said to me in response, but I want to put that in writing.”
It’s apparently that wording that led Jackson to order city staff to cancel the Queensdale bike lanes after taking a “straw vote” at a neighbourhood meeting last April. Prior to organizing that meeting – attended by about 40 people, some of whom supported the lanes – the councillor had attempted to put off “bike markings” until after the re-construction work on the road.
At this point, the only bike lanes in Jackson’s ward run along Stone Church Road and had been put in place prior to the adoption of the cycling master plan. Recreational pedestrian/cycling routes are in place on a rail trail running along the eastern edge of the ward and through conservation lands near Albion Falls.
North-south lanes are proposed for Upper Ottawa and Upper Sherman, plus a short east-west section at the eastern end of Limeridge Road, but none of these have are currently at an active planning stage. The “building the bike network” page on the city’s website lists projects “in the works” and being planned as well as a category of “projects not proceeding” that contains just one line: “Queensdale Avenue – as councillor approval was not granted”.

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to Sharing links are available on

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Resistance to Road widening in Ancaster...

Check Out 
No rush for Ancaster road repairs, says residents’ coalition
The city is eager to move ahead with road improvements in Ancaster’s historic core, but a group of residents is pleading for more time to review the changes the city has proposed.
According to Mark Cosens, spokesperson for the Preserve Ancaster Village Coalition, the city’s plan is marred by “inadequate public feedback, a lack of transparency and numerous inconsistencies with existing research and planning documents.”
The $37.6 million plan calls for a full facelift of Wilson Street East, complete with new sidewalks, bike lanes and a third left-hand turn lane in some areas. 
The extensive list of revisions also includes plans to widen Rousseaux Street as well as Stone Church, Garner, Mohawk and Golf Links roads. The city has also proposed a roundabout at the intersection of Wilson and Jerseyville Road, and reconstruction of the intersection at Wilson and Rousseaux.
According to city officials, the changes will improve traffic flow through the village core and alleviate rush-hour congestion caused by drivers crossing town to get to the westbound 403. It will also help traffic move more smoothly at the corner of Rousseaux and Wilson, which councillor Lloyd Ferguson said city staff consider the “worst intersection in the City of Hamilton.”
“Wilson Street is in deplorable shape and it needs capital improvements,” Ferguson said in a recent interview. “But we can’t get the capital dollars needed to go forward with those repairs until we have the transportation master plan.”
Ferguson said the funding for the plan was approved four years ago in the capital budget and the city has completed its report on the proposed changes. That report is out for public consultation until Jan. 31, leaving local residents three weeks to respond to the proposal before the city can move forward.
For Cosens, that’s just not enough time to carefully evaluate the plan and come up with feasible alternatives — especially since the report wasn’t made available to the public before Dec. 8.
At a meeting of the Ancaster Heritage Village BIA Jan. 17, his six-person group announced it was asking city council for an additional three months for Ancaster residents and business owners to review and respond to the plans.
“People who have studied the issue up until now have had years to do it,” Cosens said in a recent interview. “It feels like all of a sudden there’s a mad rush to make a decision that’s going to have a significant impact on our community. I don’t feel we’ve had anywhere near adequate time to be consulted.”
However, Ferguson said a majority of BIA members disagree with the need to extend the public consultation period. The Ancaster branch of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has also sided firmly with the city on the issue.
BIA chair Bob Wilkins said he wasn’t prepared to make a statement on the BIA’s position at this time.
Cosens’ group has taken issue with several aspects of the plan, and said the proposal clashes with the needs of those who call the quaint village home.
For instance, he said the proposed roundabout will likely confuse drivers and speed up traffic along the historic Wilson Street strip. This, he suspects, will make it even tougher for people to get across the street – a street which he said already has too few traffic lights and pedestrians crossings.
He also said the plan fails to adequately address the issue of westbound access to the Highway 403. There is no direct westbound access to the highway between Wilson Street, at the west end of the village, and Aberdeen Avenue.
“The sum of it is that it will be harmful, not helpful,” Cosens said. “There’s a lot more work that needs to be done.”
“This is the one part of Ancaster that remains largely as it has always been and we should do our best to preserve it,” he added. “Everything else has, for one reason or another, been developed to our detriment.”
Ferguson, however, had a different view.
He said the changes won’t affect the character of the village and, more importantly, they’re practical.
“There’s still a large contingent of people who have to get home every night from work and get the kids out to soccer and gymnastics and hockey,” he said. “That’s the balance we’ve got to reach with this thing.”
Ferguson also disputed Cosens’ claim about access to the westbound 403. He said the city is actively consulting with the ministry about the creation of an additional on-ramp at Golf Links Road.
Moreover, he said it’s misleading to portray the project as a burden to taxpayers, since less than a third of the nearly $38 million price tag will come from the city’s coffers. The rest of the project is developer-funded, Ferguson said.
The city is willing to listen to the coalition’s concerns with respect to traffic calming and the need for additional pedestrian crossings on Wilson Street, he added.
The coalition is hosting a public meeting Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the St. John’s Parish Hall in Ancaster at 7 p.m. More information can be found on the group’s website at:

Friday, January 21, 2011

bike lanes and ward politics

CATCH News – January 21, 2011
Councillor veto on bike lanes to be reviewed

Staff are being asked to design a formal public consultation process on the installation of new bike lanes to replace the current ad hoc system that allows individual councillors to veto approved cycling facilities in their ward. The change proposed at Monday’s public works committee was questioned by the councillor who last year blocked a major mountain bike lane.
Debate was opened this week by Terry Whitehead asking staff why he hadn’t been consulted about bike lanes on Stone Church Road. He was responding to the committee’s receipt of the minutes of the Hamilton Cycling Committee – a group of volunteers who advise the city.

“Certainly the feedback I’m getting in regards to our bike lanes appearing on the west mountain, the residents feel that they haven’t been part and parcel of the consultation,” he noted. “So I am trying to understand what the process is so I can be able to communicate to those residents who are impacted by this plan.”

Daryl Bender, the city’s alternative transportation coordinator, explained that the Stone Church lanes have been “embedded in the construction project” on that road, but offered to increase consultation with Whitehead.

That led Brian McHattie to ask for “a more formal consultation process” rather than “inventing it as we along or playing catch up.” He cited the challenges he faced in last year’s installation of bike lanes on Dundurn Street South.

“The role of the ward councillor is a little unclear to me as well, as to whether that's in fact a veto role where if I didn't want the Dundurn bike lanes I just would have said I don't want them and they wouldn't have happened,” he explained. “I’m not sure that's the best process.”
Committee chair Russ Powers agreed that there is “perhaps a need to formalize a process” that staff should develop. That brought Tom Jackson into the discussion to remind his colleagues that he was the author of the current veto system and argue that “it would be unfair to staff just to go back and review” the council resolution on the bike lane master plan.

“One of the amendments was subject to a neighbourhood and ward councilor consultations which I think is exactly what Councillor Whitehead is getting at, that I think are incredibly important and critical before the master plan in certain parts of the city is overall implemented,” he contended. “It was a council resolution and I think it was a worthy one a prudent one and one that I supported last term to say that neighbourhoods and ward councilors should be consulted before the final implementation in those particular areas.”

Powers responded that the request for the review doesn’t contradict that practice, but just would just lead to a required consultation process “to ensure that that takes place”.

Last year Jackson vetoed a 3.3 kilometre installation of bike lanes on Queensdale Avenue between Upper Wellington and Upper Ottawa that are part of the city’s cycling master plan approved in 2009. In email correspondence obtained by CATCH through a Freedom of Information request, he initially argued that scheduled reconstruction of the road should proceed without a decision.

“I still maintain that I do not detect a clamouring for more ‘commuter’ bike lanes across the mountain,” Jackson wrote to Bender at the time. “The possible loss of parking on the north side cannot be dismissed that easily.”

Bender had explained in an earlier email that a staff investigation “found the highest demand for parking was less than 30% of available parking” on Queensdale.

“We are not accommodating the occasional cyclist,” he explained. “Rather, by improving the street for cyclists, the intent is to improve the street for bicycle traffic, thereby increasing bicycle traffic.”

Jackson ruled against the bike lanes after a neighbourhood meeting of about 40 people in April that was also attended by members of the cycling committee.

“Taking the comments under advisement and with the ‘straw vote’ and taking into consideration the citizens that were there both from the Highview/Sunninghill neighbourhoods (bordering Queensdale itself) and those who were from other parts of the city, I am satisfied with the reconstruction plan proceeding WITHOUT bicycle markings,” Jackson explained in an email to city staff. “As well and as discussed, there will be NO loss of parking on the north side of Queensdale and NO need to re-locate any fire hydrants.”

It’s unclear when Bender might report back to the public works committee on possible formalization of the public consultation process on bike lane installation. Later in the same meeting, Whitehead questioned the appropriateness of the cycling committee having reserve funds.
“I like to see people stick to their budget,” he stated. “If there is a surplus you go back to general revenues, not into reserves.”

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to Sharing links are available on the

Saturday, January 15, 2011

design the b-line

Open Houses to review the draft design of the B-Line & Land Use Studies for both A & B-Lines
The City of Hamilton invites you to a series of Public Information Sessions.  This is your opportunity to:
  • Give your view on the ongoing development of a Rapid Transit network for Hamilton
  • Review details of the proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) scheme for the B-Line corridor between McMaster and Eastgate
  • Discuss and contribute to land use planning issues and opportunities along both the A-Line (Waterfront to Airport) and B-Line (McMaster to Eastgate) corridors
Staff will be available to explain proposals, answer your questions and understand your points of view.  In addition, members from the Rapid Transit Citizen Advisory Committee (RTCAC) will be in attendance to listen to your views.

January 19, 2011 - Downtown - Scottish Rite (4 Queen St S), 6-8pm
January 20, 2011 - West end - Westdale Secondary School (700 Main St W), 6-8pm
January 25, 2011 - East end - Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School (1715 Main St E), 6-8pm
January 27, 2011 – Mountain – Courtyard Marriott (1224 UpperJames St), 6-8pm

For further information about the Rapid Transit initiative, please visit

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roads Eat Capital Budget

Roads are eating their way into local taxpayers pockets in a big, ongoing way. CATCH is reporting that the draft budget for Hamilton allocates "Nearly one-quarter of this year’s spending...for roads. But that $52.65 million is still $85.35 million less than staff believe is required....Roads are forecast to consume 45 percent of the capital budget over the next decade."

One year ago, this discussion took place, revealing the underlying cost pressure of building roads - not much has changed in practice, but perhaps with Bratina now as Mayor, this issue will be more closely scrutinized.

Downtown councillor Bob Bratina and the general manager of public works, Gerry Davis, transcribed by CATCH.

Bratina: Gerry, how much does it cost to maintain a lane kilometre ?
Davis: Summer and winter included, it’s approximately $10,000 per lane kilometre.
Bratina: How many lane kilometres have we added in the last ten years, roughly?
Davis: We’ve added, I would say, probably upwards 500-700 lane kilometres.
Bratina: A year, on average?
Davis: On average about 50 or 70 a year, Rick? So 60.
Bratina: So if we can’t afford to maintain these lane kilometres of road, why do we add them?
Bratina was calling the city on this again in June 2010
“This looks to me like somebody’s got four clunker cars they can’t afford to fix, so he goes out and buys another car,” the ward two councillor observed. “And the comment that I hear at the table today is well the province didn’t give us enough money to fix these roads. I’m not very good at this accounting stuff, but this seems fairly simple to me. We keep building infrastructure we can’t afford to fix.”
City finance chief Rob Rossini responded that the report showed “how much stuff we actually own” and suggested that reduction is one of the objectives of the province in requiring the reports.
“Part of the rationale for the province doing this is for municipalities to look at their assets as to which ones do we still need, which ones can we surplus and rationalize on a going forward basis,” Rossini noted. “So I think that’s part of the underlying thing that the province wants us to do.”
Does Hamilton have too much road? Can we look at saving money (not to mention the environment) by rationalizing and reducing redundant roadways? Road diets?

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Wide, multi-lane, one-way streets with traffic lights synchronized to allow maximum flow in Hamilton have this "platooning" effect on traffic:
Friday, 3pm Main, looking west from Queen Street
The traffic comes in dense waves, with these huge gaps (photo above). A two-way system would not have these barren zones, as traffic would be forced into a narrower lane configuration, likely resulting in a more steady, if slower (i.e. safer) flow. Currently, the "green wave" of synchronized lights allows for fast moving traffic, which makes the cycling and pedestrian experience uncomfortable and unsafe, which is why you don't see much of that activity along Main.

20 seconds later...

Friday, January 07, 2011

King and Main from Eastgate to Mac up for discussion

The B-Line Land Use Visioning Workshop is quickly approaching - let us know if you are coming next Tuesday evening!

Details below….

B-Line Corridor - Public Visioning Workshop - All are Welcome!
Help shape the future of the B-Line Corridor along Queenston, King and Main Streets from Eastgate to McMaster.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - Open House 6pm - 7pm, Presentation and Workshop 7pm - 9pm

Hamilton Convention Centre, Albion Rooms, 1 Summers Lane in Downtown Hamilton

Throughout the fall, the City has been hosting a series of focus group meetings to help establish a land use vision for the B-Line Corridor. We have been hearing about how neighbourhoods along the corridor envision the land use and future development. Come out to hear what neighbourhoods are saying about the corridor and participate by adding YOUR vision for the B-Line Corridor.

Let us know if you are planning to attend the event - please RSVP by January 10, 2011.


Phone: Christine Newbold (905) 546-2424 ext 1279 or Ken Coit (905) 546-2424 ext 1220