Come to a public event on June 26 to help grassroots policy development for Hamilton's upcoming Complete Streets policy.
By Sara Mayo
Published June 13, 2013
Changes to make Hamilton streets safer and more complete are happening in many ways: local advocacy with ward councillors, participation [PDF] in city consultations, online campaigns, letters to media, deputations at city council, appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board, and citizen-led demonstration projects. All these individual and group actions are having tangible effects.
But there's also some frustration among many residents that change only happens when there are complaints or campaigns. Safe streets should be the default, not the exception. The current approach seems to be missing whole parts of the city, especially where residents are not as vocal or don't know the best campaign strategies.
This is more often the case in low income than high income neighbourhoods. A more systematic and city-wide approach is needed to ensure that the city doesn't deepen disparities between neighbourhoods.
A city-wide approach will help to increase equity across Hamilton since residents in lower income neighbourhoods are more likely to be pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.
One solution used in many cities is a Complete Streets policy, now adopted [PDF] in almost 500 communities in the US. In Canada. Waterloo was the first to adopt a Complete Streets Policy and there are policies in the works in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto among many others.
Hamilton's City Council recently adopted a new transit strategy, called Rapid Ready: Enhancing Mobility Choices in Hamilton [PDF], which includes as a next step the development of a Complete Streets Policy for the city because staff realize that promoting more walking and cycling in the city will also help the transit system.
A Complete Streets policy creates the framework for the ultimate goal of broad city-wide changes in the allocation of road budgets, construction priorities and overall modernization of culture within Public Works departments. Complete Streets are designed to be "safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability or age."
A Complete Streets policy "ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire street network for all road users, not only motorists."
The Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton has been working with community partners Hamilton to develop a robust Complete Streets policy draft that the city could use as a model to adopt as a made-in-Hamilton Complete Streets policy.
In an effort to open the discussion on this policy a broader group of residents, there will be a public event on Wednesday, June 26 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at the Freeway Coffee House, 333 King Street East. Childcare will be available for those who register in advance.
This event will be an opportunity to comment on the draft policy and find out more about how to get involved in the campaign. Key strategy issues such as how to ensure broad public support for a robust complete streets policy that will change streets in all parts of Hamilton, how two-way street conversion goals should be integrated into a complete streets policy will also be discussed.
I encourage Raise the Hammer readers to attend and help to make this policy a reality. Together, we can make our city better.
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