Comment 76011

By jason (registered) | Posted April 17, 2012 at 18:59:17

Having just driven to south Florida and back I must say for the first time in my life it really hit me how far behind Hamilton is when I returned home to Main and King Sts. In my 3,600 miles traveled on this trip, I didn't see a single downtown core with streets as inhospitable and 1950ish as these two. My wife commented on 'how dead' this city was as we drove down Main St upon our return. The fact that our public works staff actually considers themselves leaders and forward thinkers in 2012 as they cling to this long outdated model of urban design is the biggest worry. A morning coffee on Locke St helped balance my concern for our future by realizing that in neighbourhoods that haven't been touched by public works, we are falling in line with the trends you point out in this article. But to see such massive swaths of land wasted for the sole purpose of moving cars (York, King, Main, Queen etc...) and knowing that this land-use pattern is fiercely defended by public works and the Chamber of Commerce makes it quite easy to see where your concern of a major collapse comes from. I witnessed a city that was deader than dead until the mid 90's - Asheville, NC. Sat night we were downtown at 10:30 at night and the streets were filled with people - old, young, families, singles etc.... traffic moved very slowly, curbside parking was on both sides of the two-way streets and extended from corner to corner. There was no 30 foot empty 'buffer' zone with no parking allowed like we have in Hamilton. I witnessed the 'new downtown' in West Palm Beach - basically an outdoor mall, filled with people late at night. And of course, the rustbelt towns of the northern States along the way that have been hammered, but are doing everything possible to make life hospitable to small businesses and pedestrians in their battered downtowns. Hamilton has been given a reprieve, but I don't think it's an open-ended one. We need new blood, and quick if we expect to compete with the rest of the world's cities. Conferences and Summits are a complete waste of time. We need action.

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