Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rural Trail Development: Letter to council

Dear Councillors,

Transportation for Liveable Communities is a working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster.
TLC's mandate is to advocate for and support local sustainable transportation initiatives promoting cycling, walking, transit as viable alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle use.

We understand that the City of Hamilton staff has spent considerable amount of time and tax payer money preparing the Hamilton Trails Master Plan and the Transportation Master Plan - Class Environmental Assessment (PW07022), both readily accessible on the useful City of Hamilton web site.

The documents have been presented after extensive public consultation, in which many TLC members have participated over the past few years.

We thus were surprised to learn that councillor Dave Mitchell, in the February 19 public works committee meeting, apparently brought about the premature demise of over 70 kilometres of proposed new multi-use trails from the Transportation Master Plan.

TLC desires to see the integrity of the public process already undertaken supported and not undermined by what, unfortunately, presents itself as personal fiat.

We do not dismiss Mr. Mitchell's concerns outright, but opt for a process that would provide necessary safeguards required by our valued local agricultural sector.

We could point to the pleasant experience of cycling through farm country along the wonderful Hamilton to Brantford rail trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail that links our community to a national network of trails, and is a highly valued tourist attraction.

We support careful evaluation of a trail designated for a specific hydro corridor, which we trust can readily be done via the 30-day public comment period. However, we strongly disagree with the sudden removal of 70 kilometres of new multi-use trails from the Transportation Master Plan. This elimination bluntly violates the principles underlying the plan.

In conclusion, we hope that councillor Mitchell will join us in seeking equitable solutions on the issue of rural trail development. There is a great deal of potential to increase quality of life for Hamiltonians and visitors to the city by having an integrated trail system that showcases the many facets of life in Hamilton, urban and rural alike.

With kind regards,

Reuven Dukas
for Transportation for Liveable Communities
905-525-9140 ext. 26026

Friday, February 23, 2007

stopped-up grocery lane

The Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail - pictured here looking eastward from the east side of the Main West Fortinos Supermarket parking lot, was recently blocked by these large stones (backpack in photo for scale) which allow pedestrians and cyclists passage, but not bicycles with trailers, for example.

The rationale for blocking the path this way was, we're told, to prevent Fortinos' shopping carts from being taken through.

The issue was raised with the local councillor and he has directed staff to find out how to open it up so cyclists can cart groceries, or children in bicycle trailers.

We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

These cowboy boots not made for walking...?

Got this from Citizens at City Hall:

"CATCH News – February 19, 2007
Rural cycling and walking trails strenuously opposed by Mitchell

A proposal to use rural hydro corridors as cycling and walking trails was forced off the table today by Glanbrook councillor Dave Mitchell. The move could eliminate up to half of the new multi-use trails called for in the city’s transportation master plan.

“There’s no way I want people riding their bikes or just thinking they can free willy walk across there,” declared Mitchell. “I can’t take my skidoo or ATV on their front lawn and rip the hell out of it, so I don’t want them walking across farmland either.”

The expanded trail network is intended to meet a target in the plan of “increasing the share of daily trips that are made by cycling or walking from the current level of 6% to 15% by 2030” by providing safe routes and promoting active transportation.

The plan presented to public works committee today promises 143 kilometres of new multi-use trails, with over 70 kilometres earmarked for hydro corridors.

But it enraged Mitchell who said he had previously told staff to remove them and had been promised that would happen.

“You cannot dictate to the agricultural community that in 2031 or whenever it is that you’re going to have paths going through the middle of prime agricultural land,” Mitchell declared. “I asked for them to be taken out before. I am led to believe they got put back in by mistake, but they should not go out to the public with them in here because it’s hugely misleading.”

Director of capital works, Gerry Davis, agreed that they were “supposed to be deleted” and promised to ensure that happened before the plan is released for a 30 day public comment period required by the environmental assessment process. However, further questioning by committee chair Margaret McCarthy revealed that the trail proposals have been before the public for several months.

“It’s out there in draft from the public meetings in September,” confirmed Davis.

To fulfill the requirements of the class environmental assessment process, the amended transportation master plan will now be released for a 30-day public comment period.

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


NOTE - This is the same councillor who blamed environmentalists for causing damage in Red Hill Valley by walking on trails - while he supported the building of the red hill creek expressway.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Following Up and Holding...

Dear Karen:

Thank you for acknowledging my e-mail of January 15 on behalf of TLC and for updating us about various traffic issues at McMaster and Westdale.

TLC members look forward to your thorough consideration and relevant reply regarding the two related serious safety issues we raised in our e-mail of January 15.

Briefly, we are concerned that a large proportion of vehicles entering through the Main St. entrance do not stop at the "welcome booth", thus putting pedestrians and cars in conflict, and request that changes be made to ensure legitimate use of that entrance. Our preferred solution is the construction of bars operated by the staff at the booth.

Additionally, we are alarmed by proposals calling for eliminating the staffing of the staffing of the booths at the campus entrances. Please see our January 15 e-mail immediately below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. James S. Quinn