Friday, December 28, 2007

boxed in?

City fights big-box bid in Mac's Innovation Park

The Hamilton Spectator (Dec 28, 2007)

The city is gearing up to protect its zoning of the area around the McMaster Innovation Park to stop a proposed big-box development.

Trinity Development Group Inc. has a conditional offer on about 15 hectares (37 acres) of land near the park, 10 hectares of which can be developed.

Trinity has a proposed automotive tenant for part of the land, but zoning would have to be changed before the store could go ahead.

The lands all fall within the West Hamilton Innovation District, which was specifically zoned to support the innovation park.

The district is roughly bounded by Aberdeen, the CP rail line, Main Street West and Highway 403. It encompasses the innovation park located along Longwood Road South.

"We, at this point, I think disagree 100 per cent with their concept," said Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie.

Trinity has appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board and a full hearing on the issue is tentatively set for February.

McHattie said the work the city has done in the district -- putting an interim control bylaw in place for two years to study the area and essentially freeze land use changes -- is tied into the province's Places to Grow Act.

The act stipulates that a certain percentage of residential development must be achieved through intensification and a certain number of jobs must be produced per hectare.

When complete, it's estimated the district could provide 1,500 well-paying jobs.

Al Fletcher, senior project manager with the city, said the concept plan Trinity presented to the city calls for about 325,000 square feet in retail space, about 101,000 square feet in office space and about 27,000 square feet of restaurant space.

As for the major automotive tenant?

"I've heard so many different rumours, I'm not sure what it is," Fletcher said. "When we asked them directly, there wasn't an answer."

Trinity is also the company responsible for developing an area around Clappison's Corners.

A call to Trinity Development Group Inc. for comment was not returned but the company lists Canadian Tire and PartSource as tenants at other developments.

McHattie said he thinks it's important to support the "BIA-style of retail" and that big-box stores tend to have a negative impact on neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops.

"The other thing that comes to mind is the traffic that would be generated by such a development," he said. "And we certainly don't have a lot of traffic capacity."

The McMaster Innovation Park was meant to be a vehicle to take research from the university and commercialize it, McHattie said.

The park recently announced the formation of an advisory board to help guide the relocation of CANMET-Materials Technology, the park's anchor tenant, from Ottawa to Hamilton.

The laboratory will be home to 100 top federal scientists.

A public meeting has been scheduled Jan. 10 to provide an update on the OMB appeal, with city staff present to answer questions. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at St. Joseph's Church, 260 Herkimer St., in the basement of the parish hall. An OMB pre-hearing is set for Jan. 15.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

speedy report

Coverage in the local weekly on the Cootes Speed issue:
Results of speed study not yet released to public
Craig Campbell, DUNDAS STAR NEWS
Published on Dec 14, 2007

A local transportation group based at McMaster University and deeply involved in pedestrian and cyclist safety issues in that area is disappointed it wasn't even informed about a speed study on Cootes Drive.

More than two weeks after the three-day recording of vehicle speeds in a 40 km-h zone near a pedestrian-controlled traffic light, results of the study still not available this week.

City of Hamilton traffic technologist Chris Van Berkel said Wednesday morning results had been downloaded from equipment that recorded the speed of every vehicle that drove over it for at least three days. But Mr. Van Berkel needed permission from Councillors Russ Powers and Brian McHattie to release the data.

Transportation for Livable Communities representative Randy Kay wrote a letter on Dec. 6 to Mr. Powers and the Dundas Star News, expressing opposition to the idea of raising the 40 km/h speed limit.

"TLC would like to remind all parties that speed has a direct impact on the survival rates in collisions," Mr. Kay wrote.

Included with the letter is a chart based on United Kingdom statistics that shows 85 per cent of pedestrians struck at 64 km-hr are killed, while only 5 per cent struck at 32 km-h are killed. Mr. Kay's letter stated the lower speed limit at the Cootes crossing was introduced as a safety measure at a very busy pedestrian crossing.

"TLC cannot accept a decision that would allow lack of obedience to the posted limit to result in raising the speed limit. This would be rewarding law-breaking speeders at the expense of traffic safety."

The speed review was sparked by concerns over a drop in the speed limit from 60 km-h to 40 km-hi that most drivers do not appear to be following.

Just three months after the pedestrian controlled crossing was installed, a student was struck and killed by a vehicle while using the crossing.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

poetry in motion

TLC member April sent this the other day:

I Took My Car to the Corner Store to Get a Loaf of Bread

by Mike Nickerson

I took my car to the corner store,
to get a loaf of bread;
It turned out to be quite a trip,
when all was done and said.

First I took the doors along,
as they were first at hand;
A trip with each, my heart did pound,
the exercise was grand.

Next I took the hood and trunk,
they easily came undone;
The body posed a bigger task,
it could not be moved as one.

I'll not tell all, about the chore,
with torch and saw to render;
Suffice to say, when it was done,
I could carry every member.

But for the engine, I had to cheat,
its weight too much for me;
I brought a wagon to the task,
man powered, though, you see.

With fenders, gears and manifolds,
bumpers, clutch and brakes;
My heart and lungs were racing now,
a little rest I'd take.

Oh how I love my motor car,
its chrome and paint do shine;
The neighbours stare as we go by,
I'm so glad that it is mine.

The tires I choose to roll along,
a wonder is the wheel;
After axles, tranny and padded seats,
I was ready for my meal.

Alone, one man, but for his car,
the corner store's so handy;
I got the bread that I came for,
some cheese and also candy.

The joys of transport are so grand,
the world is there to roam;
I took my car to the corner store,
now I have to take it home.


More wisdom from Mike Nickerson: [- to read more about Mike
Nickerson, his book and get his contact information, go to:
- make sure all the address is pasted into browser.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

slow it for safety

Transportation for Liveable Communities

PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0
905-525-9140 ext. 26026

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Transportation for Liveable Communities, a sustainable transportation working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at McMaster University, would like to register our grave concern regarding a suggestion by Councillor Powers to raise the speed limit on Cootes Drive to 60km/h from the current 40km/h (Dundas Star News, November 30, 2007) in the vicinity of the pedestrian crossing at Sanders Blvd.

TLC would like to remind all parties that speed has a direct impact on the survival rates in collisions,

i.e. the higher the speed the greater likelihood of death in a collision.

The 40km/h speed limit was introduced to this area as a protective safety measure at a very busy pedestrian crossing, with a large volume of pedestrian traffic originating or having destinations at McMaster University.

TLC awaits the result of the speed study being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the speed reduction, however, TLC cannot accept a decision that would allow lack of obedience to the posted limit to result in raising the speed limit. This would be rewarding law-breaking speeders at the expense of traffic safety. If we followed this logic, speed limits everywhere would reflect a dangerous upward curve resulting in higher fatality rates.

To alleviate the effect of velocitization1 on drivers going from an 80 zone to 60 to 40, we suggest reducing the maximum speed limit on Cootes from 80 to 70, and to ensure compliance, would support the placement a permanent speed camera near the crossing.

TLC has also advocated for enhanced traffic-calming measures, such as lane-narrowing and vertical deflection. If speeding continues to be a problem at the site of the crossing, TLC would like the city to explore the idea of a physically engineered solution rather than relying on signs to accomplish the required speed reduction.


An ongoing issue related to the crossing itself, TLC would like the timing of the pedestrian crossing light reviewed in general, with particular attention to a significant and unnecessary delay, primarily during rush-hours, for the pedestrian crossing to be activated after pushing the button.

TLC also requests a digital count-down display for this crossing, like the one used at Bay Street and King Street for example. Such display has become the standard in many Canadian cities, including Toronto.

Finally, TLC is very disappointed not to have been contacted by any agency to inform us of the existence of the speed study, despite TLC's ongoing and direct involvement in the issues of pedestrian safety at the Cootes crossing, having to instead discover the news via the media. TLC thus requests a print copy of the report for our records, and a commitment to be included in any further discussion on this important pedestrian/cyclist crossing.

For TLC,

Randy Kay

1 the phenomenon that driver's experience when driving at a high rate of speed for extended periods of time and the speed no longer feels as fast when they enter into a zone with a slower posted speed limit (Hamilton Police Service)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

never mind TLC (and others) have been pushing for years... long as there is some action!

CATCH News – December 3, 2007
Making Hamilton friendly to pedestrians and cyclists
Public health staff are looking at ways to reduce car use and encourage more walking and cycling as part of an effort to cut high obesity rates in Hamilton. After hearing from Gil Penalosa of Walk and Bike for Life at last week’s Board of Health meeting, councillors agreed to consider ideas that will be developed by Hamilton Partners for Healthy Weights.
Penalosa said the central questions facing the city are “how do we want to live” and “what kind of a city are we going to build” to accommodate the expected growth over the next 25 years. He pointed to Vancouver’s adoption of a “pedestrian first” objective and Portland, Oregon’s “bicycles everywhere” theme.
“We need an attitude of ready fire aim because sometimes we say ready aim, aim, aim and we never fire,” he argued. “The vision has to be bold and ambitious.”
Penalosa had numerous specific suggestions for change, including adopting the Velib bike rental system that has put Paris in world headlines in the last few months. Over 10,000 bicycles have been installed in racks all over the city where they can be accessed with a credit card. Its success has several world capitals considering following suit including London, Rome and Vancouver.
“If you use it for less than half an hour, it’s free,” explained Penalosa, who had just returned from checking out the system. “You pick it up wherever you want and then you return it somewhere else. They have them at most within 300 metres of any place in the city, and in the downtown it’s within 150 metres.”
The system mimics one established earlier in Lyon, a city about the size of Hamilton, and it doesn’t cost the municipal government a cent.
“They allowed 1400 small ads of 4 square metres and in exchange for that the company put in 20,000 bikes,” noted Penalosa. “Any revenue that is generated goes back to the city.”
The staff report accompanying Penalosa’s presentation points to rates of obesity in Hamilton as evidence of a need for more physical activity. Hamilton’s rates are about 20 percent higher than in Ontario as a whole.
“While obesity levels cannot be solely explained by our built environment, we do know that each additional hour spent in a car per day leads to a 6 percent increase in the likelihood of obesity, while each kilometre walked per day translates to a 4.8 percent reduction in the odds of obesity,” says the report.
It goes on to note that over 80 percent of Canadians say they would like to walk more and two-thirds want to more opportunities to cycle.
“However, they feel that the current built environment discourages these forms of travel. A report released by the Ontario College of Family Physicians states ‘evidence clearly shows the people who live in spread-out, car-dependent neighbourhoods are likely to walk less, weigh more and suffer from obesity, high blood pressure and consequent diabetes, cardio-vascular and other diseases, as compared to people who live in more efficient, higher density communities’.”
The staff report stresses the importance of urban planning principles in the promotion of pedestrian-friendly and cycling-friendly cities and reducing obesity. These include mixed land use, higher population densities, grid street patterns, traffic calming measures and “the buffering of sidewalks by landscaping, street furniture, on-street parking, and boulevards” to improve pedestrian safety.
Mayor Eisenberger was enthusiastic about Penalosa’s talk and the staff report.
“I’m really excited about the opportunities for Hamilton,” he declared. “The pedestrian first notion I think is something we can talk about through our strategic planning exercises and we can talk about where we’re going and what kind of city we want to have. And I agree completely that we’ve got great opportunity in Hamilton to build on many of the things that we’re already doing and expand upon them significantly.”

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