Special Report: Walkable Streets

More Parochial Excuses Not to Implement Two-Way Conversions

Is it really so strange that the city's largest employment hub, business and creative centre gets a lot of attention, especially since it has been under-performing for so many years due to self-inflicted wounds?

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published May 16, 2014

Let me get this straight:

After decades of fighting for two-way conversions in ward 2, thirteen years after a handful of inexpensive two-way conversions were approved by council and staff but never implemented, and a year after groups of residents carefully surveyed candidate streets and submitted their results, mountain councillors have suddenly realized some of their own streets don't have sidewalks and are fuming mad that the two-way conversions that have been in suspended animation for well over a decade might get done ahead of their streets.

Talk about parochialism!

Last year, if I remember correctly, these same councillors were extremely concerned that pedestrian improvements and two-way conversions should be carefully examined from every angle before proceeding.

They insisted that residents from the mountain should have a say in what improvements are made in ward 2 - and mountain councillors should vote them down if the changes seem unpopular in their wards.

So, will these councillors now propose years of careful study of the benefits and drawbacks of sidewalks? After all, they could remove space from traffic, make parking more difficult and distract drivers.

And think of the cost! Can we afford it when there are holes in the roads?

We had better strike a citizen's advisory committee with representatives from throughout the city to decide whether these crazy sidewalk things are actually a good idea in Wards 7 and 8.

As far as I'm concerned, those mountain streets are just fine the way they are ... and shouldn't my opinion be just as important as those who live there? I haven't been hearing a clamour for sidewalks on the mountain.

Downtown residents like the fact they can drive around on the mountain without being slowed down and confused by sidewalks. Just think how difficult parking will become! After all, Wards 7 and 8 belong to everyone.

Of course I'm not being serious. It would be absurd for me to make such an argument - yet that is precisely the argument used to veto even modest, inexpensive changes to lower city streets year after year.

And, of course, Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel chimes in, reinforcing the view that downtown is getting too much attention.

[I]t's possible [Councillor Tom] Jackson may be the canary in the coal mine, an early warning system signalling that in the perpetual struggle between wants and needs, some people are fed up with the amount of time and attention downtown Hamilton is getting.

Is it really so strange that the largest employment hub, business and creative centre of a city of half a million gets a lot of attention, especially since it has been under-performing for so many years largely due to the self-inflicted wounds of its leaders?

If these councillors are exhausted with talking about downtown and giving it so much attention, why don't they just let the downtown ward councillors and residents get on with making changes, instead of debating them to death and vetoing them!

I agree that we could have done without the massive debate on the Cannnon bike lane. And they spent ages debating the bus lane, even though it is funded by the Province!

What really gets me is that these councillors simultaneously want to stop spending so much time, attention and money on downtown, but insist on always interfering with even modestly-priced projects that are strongly supported by downtown residents and councillors if they don't like them.

I would also like to see a proper cost/benefit analysis of how much money is spent downtown compared to the suburbs. Even a simple comparison of costs would be nice!

How much is spent on road maintenance and construction outside the downtown? Didn't we just spend almost $6 million on a single highway interchange in rural Hamilton?

Nor do I recall mammoth debates and tense votes about Ancaster's expensive complete streets re-design a few years ago.

It seems that these massive spends outside the downtown go by without comment, while a few hundred thousand downtown is examined and debated - and then vetoed - over and over.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 11:25:28

only half joking.... but in the name of downtown parochialism, maybe a mud or rock slide on all the downtown access routes from the mountain might be a good thing. the mountain cannot survive without the downtown and lower city, but we can get by mostly fine without the mountain. i work and have worked with plenty of people who live on the mountain and spend almost every penny on the mountain and spend zero percent of their downtime in the core (artcrawl? supercrawl? whats that?)or anywhere else in the lower wards. they need downtown and the lower city to pay the bills and mortgage but beyond that (and a guaranteed free parking spot for work) to hell with the core as far as their concerned. cant get out of downtown fast enough for them. but very very few downtown residents i know work on the mountain. we visit family, shop a bit, a commute up the hill for a relatively small percentage of the lower city. look what way the traffic mostly flows during work commute time. down in the am up in the pm. if the whole mountain was trapped under a dome it would affect a much smaller percentage of lower city residents than vice versa. anything i can buy at limeridge or concession i can get down here. lets see how long tom jackson and scott duvalls constituents get by without the lower city.

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By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted May 16, 2014 at 11:26:13

When will the Cannon bike-lanes be ready for use?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 11:42:39

Some of these guys have been on council since 1988. Yes, 1988. I was 11 years old. Perhaps if they had taken the odd breather from their sprawl-at-all-costs programme during the past 25 years they may have noticed that there are a pile of neighbourhood already there that need reinvestment and improvements.

Mtn folks get what they vote for.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 11:58:45

That was a frustrating article to read in the Spectator today. However, the kind of tactic in use here by Councillors Duvall, Jackson and Whitehead actually gives me a lot of hope. It is so transparent to nearly anyone that it suggests a kind of desperation. To try to frame the argument this way means that they have no good ideas.

We mustn’t let them for a second suggest that downtown conversions are “trumping” sidewalks elsewhere, as Jackson said. The municipal government should be able to simultaneously handle converting a few streets to two-way traffic while simultaneously installing basic infrastructure in areas where growth would have been predicted long ago. If he’s saying it can’t, I’d be concerned about that and would say we are in dire need of new leadership.

No one can possibly believe that the choice is between walkability in urban parts of the city and walkability in less urban parts of the city. Duvall should submit the specific names of streets where residents have requested sidewalks, and help make that happen. If not, those constituents ought to elect a representative who will do that, instead of using their concerns (I’m assuming they actually exist, and if they do they should be alleviated) to promote division and to obfuscate other issues.

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By Just Because (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:09:11

Just because people do not agree with you does not make them parochial, by which I assume you mean small minded, conservative and possibly naive.

I live in ward 2 south of Main Street and have since 1957. I remember the world before one way streets, the one way world and the hodge podge of the present. Having seen all three, I prefer one way, not because I am small minded, and not because I am naive, but because I have seen one way and two way and one way is better all around.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:24:58 in reply to Comment 101339

I meant parochial in the sense of "concerned only with the interests of one's own ward to the exclusion of the interests of those living in other wards" because the mountain councillors felt that because some their streets didn't have sidewalks downtown residents shouldn't be getting two-way conversion. As a previous commenter pointed out, walkability is not a zero sum game between the urban and suburban parts of the city.

These same councillors opposed two-way conversions this year and last year because of the possible delays for their ward residents who might use those streets.

The issue of whether one-way streets have helped or hindered the downtown economy and residents over the past 55 years and whether this is still true today is separate and a ward 2 resident supporting one-way streets is certainly not being parochial (even though I would respectfully disagree).

It is also a fact that the one-way conversions were in fact approved thirteen years ago, and the fact they have still not been implemented is a troubling example of not following through on decisions.

It is also clear that the majority of residents, and the Ward 1 and 2 councillors are generally supportive of two-way conversion and supporting two-way conversion, wherever appropriate, has been a policy of the Durand Neighbourhood Association for many years.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-16 12:33:22

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:27:45

It is almost difficult to believe this kind of stupidity is actually happening.

Continually sprawling out onto greenfields, continuing to have difficulty keeping up with that infrastructure, and then using it as an excuse not to upgrade things where people already are. Brilliant.

Are these streets that were built without sidewalks? If so, why? Why complain now? Were they rural areas that suburbs caught up to, thus in need of upgrading? So many questions. If only someone had the foresight to anticipate that unchecked sprawl would make things more difficult in the long run.

I don't understand why people that want to live in suburbs, can't do so in properly planned and priced neighborhoods. And why people that want to live in dense urban areas, can't have upgrades to make that environment appealing and attract more people close to existing transit and amenities.

Let's elect conservatives, have suburban sprawl all the way from here to Welland, go broke, and blame it all on downtown's ambitions to grow and improve. Thinking like champions right there.

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By Jest Becasue (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:38:30 in reply to Comment 101340

OK. I see. Thanks.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:38:49

I would have an ounce of sympathy for Mr. Jackson about mountain streets without sidewalks if they had been approved 13 years ago, still hadn't appeared, and he'd been fighting for them since day one.

He's been in Council since the '80s or something, right? How many sidewalks has he pushed for since then?

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:52:28 in reply to Comment 101335

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:53:00 in reply to Comment 101336

when its needed?

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 12:56:14 in reply to Comment 101339

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 13:07:03 in reply to Comment 101338

Duvall should submit the specific names of streets where residents have requested sidewalks, and help make that happen.

I'm also unclear on this. If its so needed, why is it only coming up now that the clearly needed two-way conversions are being talked about? Its not the job of down-towners to figure out what are the infrastructure needs in other wards and support them. If these councillors want these things to happen, why aren't they being pushed for the way two-way conversions are? It seems the only people suggesting we have to choose between sidewalks on the mountain and two-way streets are these few councillors.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 13:08:23 in reply to Comment 101339

parochial: having a limited or narrow outlook or scope.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 13:11:47 in reply to Comment 101341

Are these streets that were built without sidewalks?

Presumably, and the ironic thing is that they could have been approved by members of this council, since apparently certain councillors in Hamilton have been in office as long as I have been alive.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 13:50:28 in reply to Comment 101347

I live in Mr. Duvall's ward, and I can think of very few streets in my neighbourhood that don't have sidewalks.

Perhaps he is referring to streets further south, towards stonechurch and rymal.

Anyone else think maybe the development charges should have been sufficient to cover city crews installing sidewalks at the time the subdivisions were created, or shortly thereafter?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 15:22:11

It's even more rich to hear them blaming downtown councillors for somehow hijacking money or a process, leaving them sidewalk-less on the Mtn. Really? Farr has been in office 3 years. It's his fault that there are no sidewalks in other Wards where the same councillors have been in power as long as 25 years???

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By Clyde_Cope (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 17:28:33

Amazing how the Councillors from the mountain want nothing done or spent in the lower city. Seems they have selectively forgotten the millions upon millions spent on the mountain to make life easier for their residents - ie: Red Hill Expressway and the Linc just to mention two. Dreschel on the other hand is quickly losing his credibility as an independent journalist - a lack of good judgement and research makes him nothing more than a rag journalist.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 17:34:12 in reply to Comment 101344

i already do, if you live on the mountain. i have been subsidizing your mountain lifestyle with my downtown tax's for years. youre welcome.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 17:37:00 in reply to Comment 101346

like the special interests that brought us the linc and red hill for all the mountain and suburban folks. i never use either yet i still pay for them.

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By Killthecar (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 18:36:30

Climate change (God) is going to kill all of us over the next decade. We need to up the war on cars ASAP!!!

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By H2 (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 18:47:28 in reply to Comment 101346

Idiot, troll.

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By MAW MAW MAW (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 20:07:38 in reply to Comment 101336

What the hell is your problem?

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By 4 more years (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 20:09:29 in reply to Comment 101337

In four years they can get that 30 year gold watch they've been holding out for. Hamilton, the only city where councillors literally stay in their seat til they die. (too soon?)

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By Flawed Logic (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 20:35:13 in reply to Comment 101356

Stop with the flawed logic. You will ALWAYS pay for things you don't use. Been to the hospital lately? What about the library? A rec centre? Any street other than the one you live on? It goes on and on.

I don't feel sorry for you, nor will I listen to you, with senseless complaining. Go away, troll.

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By Stats Rule! (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 20:36:42 in reply to Comment 101340

>>It is also clear that the majority of residents, and the Ward 1 and 2 councillors are generally supportive of two-way conversion...

Really? Stats please.

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By GodIsDead (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 20:37:36 in reply to Comment 101358

Science is the new religion

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By reality (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 22:52:51 in reply to Comment 101354

They are going to need millions more very soon to add a lane in each direction to both those roads since they are both already running over capacity.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 23:27:48 in reply to Comment 101339

"the hodge podge of the present"?

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By Killthecar (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 00:44:13 in reply to Comment 101364

Says you. Either way, both science and religion are saying the same thing: the end is near.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 08:20:32 in reply to Comment 101366

The only $ spent on adding capacity to those roads should be for express bus routes using either shoulder, and with stations at appropriate cross streets. As we all know, building more highway lanes simply brings more cars.

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By 1234 (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 09:21:59

It's a funny thing. I remember 5 or 6 years ago when I was a member of the Hamilton Cycling Committee and there was a special meeting held by Councillor Jackson in relation to the implementation of bike lanes on Queensdale. We all trudged up there to support the lanes on the street. I remember city staff stating that the cost to implement this was minimal, some paint, that was it. There was no impact to parking, It seemed like an easy win for all.

Councillor Jackson vetoed that bike lane.

Since then we know that Councillor McHattie has implemented every bike lane in the Cycling Master Plan in his ward.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 09:23:55

Solution: Implement least one kilometer of complete street in every suburban ward, every fiscal year, and allocate the average budget cost of those projects to projects within each of the urban wards (1-8), to be portioned as (public works staff + councillor + constituents) see fit. Even-handed, scalable, conversation over, progress can commence.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 15:24:44 in reply to Comment 101335

This is exactly the attitude that led to the Rob Fords of the world. The entire "us" vs "them" attitude will, at best, keep the psychological divides at the poor levels they're at now (plus Glanbrook, Flamborough, Stoney Creek, and Dundas. The City works as one, and works in tun with the rest of the region/province, and the greater economic zone of Eastern Canada.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 15:28:00 in reply to Comment 101350

Under current provincial DC-law, DCs can only cover about 1/3 of the total cost things like sidewalks, bus pads/stops, and cycling infrastructure. Since Harris changed DC laws in the 90s, developments don't pay for the themselves in terms of new infrastructure costs. This isn't a Hamilton specific dilemma, it's province-wide.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 16:18:46 in reply to Comment 101371

...brings more cars

because people don't pay the real price of driving. if they did, this would not be true.

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By hp (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 22:37:14 in reply to Comment 101367

The mixture of one way and two way currently seen in Durand?

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By hp (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 22:38:25 in reply to Comment 101359

One comment a troll dies not make

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By TheTroll (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 23:31:30 in reply to Comment 101337

Yes, because tenure in a job means that you don't know what you're doing. Perhaps you'd make a better councillor than some of the ones there?

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By TheTroll (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 23:31:57 in reply to Comment 101361

Yes, that's too soon and 100% inappropriate.

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By TheTroll (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 23:33:15 in reply to Comment 101359

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By TheTroll (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 23:34:44 in reply to Comment 101369

Keep it in church there buddy

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By TheTroll (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 23:35:53 in reply to Comment 101373

No. This nonsense of complete streets is a complete waste of my hard-earned taxpayer dollars. We don't want to keep paying for this crap as lower city residents! STOP THE MADNESS!

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By H2 (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 02:14:57 in reply to Comment 101386

You're an idiot too, TheTroll troll.

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By H2 (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 13:44:10 in reply to Comment 101388

Working in construction as well as doing the odd job in IT, my hard-earned taxpayer dollars are probably harder to earn than most peoples, maybe even yours, and I want to pay for two way streets.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 14:30:34 in reply to Comment 101377

That's terrible, and seems to definitely be a road to ruin.

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By H3 (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 16:37:01 in reply to Comment 101392

H2, sounds like _you're_ the troll, and an idiot too. Bye!

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 20:02:54 in reply to Comment 101388

What madness? We pay taxes in the lower city and would like to see them used to allow us to get around our neighbourhoods safely and conveniently. How is that different from what you want?

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 20:06:26 in reply to Comment 101354

When did Dreschel have credibility as an independent journalist?

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By Killthecar (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 20:41:39 in reply to Comment 101387

It's people like you that are the problem.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2014 at 09:10:54 in reply to Comment 101336

I'd ask staff on this. As far as I know, a surface analysis has been done to identify holes, cracks etc that need to be repaired, then detailed design and construction can begin. Should be ready to go sometime this summer. Optimistically they'll be ready to ride on July 13th to coincide with Open Streets, the Launch of Bike Share and the 1 year countdown events to Pan-Am.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2014 at 09:19:52 in reply to Comment 101388

Here.

http://raisethehammer.org/article/2133/a...

Read that, then tell me it's a waste of your money. Come back with one shred of evidence, just ONE that shows that Complete Streets don't have an economic payback, that they don't do more to improve the health, economy and connectivity of a community, and that they have a net negative impact. Once you can show me even ONE study that shows that Complete streets don't have a much better return on investment than traditional infrastructure spending, then we can have an adult conversation. But until you can do that, your argument is tantamount to denying that the earth is round. Find some evidence - it's been my challenge to people for months, and nobody has yet met it.

Best of luck.

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By RB (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 11:17:31

this might be out of place here, but I thought it was another case in pointing out that highways through our downtown is not a good idea:

http://io9.com/can-your-city-be-brought-back-from-the-dead-1578477171 -take a look at the first item on the list.

I thought it was interesting what Seoul, Korea did with the river.

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By Joeshmoe (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 12:29:16 in reply to Comment 101355

that's funny! what taxes are they?

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 12:35:42 in reply to Comment 101356

Why do you assume that if I feel changing one way streets to two way is a waist of taxes, means I supported the Link and Red Hill? also a waist of taxes.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 12:42:53 in reply to Comment 101355

tax rate is the same. amount paid is based on property value. average value on the mountain is higher than below. more city services are provided below the hill. how much tax has been wasted on the core? who is subsidizing who?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 13:01:16 in reply to Comment 101385

But 100% accurate.

On CBC Hamilton today, Chad Collins elected to council when he was 24 and still youngest on council at 43. What more needs to be said...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2014 at 14:29:20 in reply to Comment 101414

The argument about tax subsidy has to do with the cost of infrastructure. Suburban communities are far more spread-out than urban ones - that's more roadway to pave, more pipe to run, etc. per-resident. These are not small potatoes - Hamilton spends a horrifying amount of money on roads.

Even things like buses - I mean, which side of the city costs more to service with buses, the lower city or the mountain? Intuitively, you think the lower city - the buses run incredibly frequently down there. They're constant. But the thing is that they're constant because they're full. Full means paid fares. Many of the lower-city routes actually generate a profit over the individual route's operating costs. However, the total system is not profitable because of all the empty-buses puttering around in less-popular routes... which includes most mountain buses.

Also, do you have a source for the "average value" thing? I know home prices are skyrocketing in the west end.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-05-20 14:47:59

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2014 at 18:48:28 in reply to Comment 101417

I live downtown and my taxes have more than quadrupled in 18 years.

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By Steve-O (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 20:59:00 in reply to Comment 101415

What more needs to be said? That politics need younger blood but they can't attract anyone? That most people turn to politics as a 2nd career? What point are you trying to make?

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By TheSolution (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 21:01:36 in reply to Comment 101402

And are you the solution?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 21:39:58 in reply to Comment 101425

New blood, younger blood, 3 term limits (something I previously opposed), local politicians who have a 1st career outside of politics.

Forget where to start, where does one stop...

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By Killthecar (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 21:50:00 in reply to Comment 101427

Yes, a critical mass of people like me, or like the majority of fair minded people here on RTH are the solution.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2014 at 12:29:40 in reply to Comment 101417

since when is the west end downtown?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 12:49:07 in reply to Comment 101455

You're the one who started with "the lower city". West end is not downtown, but definitely part of the lower city.

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By TheSolution (anonymous) | Posted May 23, 2014 at 13:42:04 in reply to Comment 101429

OK, let me know when the 10 of you have become critical mass (outside of your weight)

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By crtsvg (registered) | Posted May 24, 2014 at 20:41:17 in reply to Comment 101356

well it's not about you, we all live here together...so you pay like everyone. you like the roads we all pay for and drive on? you like the health care and hospitals we all pay for? Stop bitching about what you pay for and don't use, jeez.

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By crtsvg (registered) | Posted May 24, 2014 at 20:44:18 in reply to Comment 101366

yes, and they should increase the speed from 90 to like 120.

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By crtsvg (registered) | Posted May 24, 2014 at 20:46:35 in reply to Comment 101429

well if you think religion is somehow the answer to anything, you are way out to lunch.

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By crtsvg (registered) | Posted May 24, 2014 at 20:50:00

Maybe if we all just pray, everything will be better.

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