Sunday, January 27, 2008

Neighbourhood Rocks

What do you love about your neighbourhood?
One woman writes;

"We rural people have less garbage since we make our own compost and
supervise burning other materials in contained barrels on days that are
not windy.
We perfer to take care of our own needs. We do have city garbage
pick-up and snow plowing but both were better handled in the days when
Glanbrook took care of those services themselves. We do not want urban
amenities like busing, sidewalks, streetlights and sewers etc. Thus, we
should have our taxes lowered.
The one thing we truly miss now is seeing the starts to the north of us,
which are obliverated by the city lights, especially the fog lights on
Rymal Rd intersections.
We, and our neighbours moved to the country because we want to live in
the country. I did hear one new neighbour, on a different road than
ours, say that he couldn't wait for development so that stores, banks
etc. would be closer to him.Well, if he didn't want to be away from
developed areas, he should not have moved to the country. We see
developers' signs saying: Live the country life. Really! - If they
build their houses here, the will be NO country life. Developers should
be in-filling within the Hamilton city boundaries - not in the
amalgamated areas. Everyone needs to eat. Thus everyone needs farmers.
Those of us in this area who are not farmers do grown our own yearly
supply of fruits and vegetables on our large lots. Unlike sod farms, we
add nourishment to the soil, we don't deplete it."

Another writes;
I live in Ainslie Wood North. Things I like about this neighbourhood include heritage trees, close to Cootes (we see deer in our neighbourhood all the time), Rail Trail, McMaster (my husband can walk to work), character homes. Things I don't like: poor walkability; businesses nearby are not ones I frequent ( e.g. 3 paint stores, fast food chains), it's nice having the Fortinos nearby, but its set up for cars as you must walk through massive parking lot to get to front door; too many rental properties that are not well maintained.

A Gent writes about his North End home;
I feel that the North End rocks.
We have Bayfront, Pier 4, Pier 8, and Eastwood parks all within walking distance.
The waterfront trail is exceptional and connects the North End to Westdale.
Transit service could be improved as currently there is only one bus that travels sporadically through the area on Burlington St. Traffic can be heavy at times particularly on Burlington and James St. Our neighbourhood is also close enough to downtown that the Farmer's Market and Central Library are within relatively easy walking distance.

In terms of improvements there is currently numerous studies underway examining commerical, residential, recreational, and transportation development. There is strong pressure from our neighbourhood association to maintain the local feel by utilizing traffic calming measures and limiting large scale development.

The City of Hamilton is heavily focused on waterfront development. It is great to be by the water; the North End Rocks.

And again from a North Ender;
Our neighbourhood (the North End) is definitely walkable - to downtown and the West Harbour (trails and all). Buses are good. Bike paths non-existant (on city streets), but streets are calmer and smaller than above Main, so riding is ok. The kids walk to school and the library is close. We have awalking and biking trail by the water. And it's generally very quiet and very safe.

I do wish the air were cleaner here. Also, there's a suburban rogue attittute down here -they've embraced all the 'conveniences' and have little regard for the effect some behaviours have on others. The garbage on the street is noticable (especially today with this winter thaw!). I wish that there was much more of an urban forest here (more trees!). I wish folks didn't have so many cars and made their front yards into parking 'pads' to accomodate them, hence removing street parking and creating ugly front yards and less permeable ground for storm water to be absorbed into.
I wish there were more 'friendly' commercial venues right within a few blocks... I wish folks didn't use snow blowers or leaf blowers or burn in their backyards and even in their fireplaces, as it pollutes our local air. Idling is also quite prevelent, sigh.

Leg It

What do you see when you go out your front door? I see a very traffic-heavy street. Indeed it is a highway, highway 99 (Governors Rd). It carries a none-stop sea of vehicles that thunder down the road to the suburbs beyond, or through the city to the 403.

But the good thing about my neighbourhood is that it is a 20 minute walk to local amenities in the area. There's a bakery, a library, a post office and drug store, a swimming pool, a health food store and grocery store all congregated in one main area- King Street (in Dundas).

I'm a walker. I prefer walking to a destination rather than taking the bus, driving or biking. If it's within reasonable walking distance (4km or so) then I'll walk it. So this set up suits me fine. Except when I have to go to Hamilton and getting there can be somewhat of a song and dance as the 5 Delaware bus service is erratic at the best of time and not at all on the weekend and holidays.

Still, I'm with the comedian Steven Wright who said, "You can walk anywhere- if you got the time." Uncommon as this view may be, walking is not a big deal; its part of my lifestyle and that of my family. My husband walks from our Dundas home to his office at McMaster- takes him about 45 minutes. It's a time for reflection and solitude. He takes the trail - the healthy highway and that makes it all the more pleasurable.

A walk down the street is a way of connecting to your neighbourhood and if you are really lucky as I am, the natural environment close by.

People know me and I know them. The standing joke in my family is that I always get back late from running errands because I speak to at least 3 people on my route! Running into people regularly is an indication that my neighbourhood is healthy and vibrant. It's the kind of place people want to live in!

Besides the dubious bus system there is still room for improvement. After a snow storm we pedestrians would appreciate ploughed side walks. We'd also like less traffic on our roads; many communities in Europe and North America have adopted a /close street policy/ in core areas- increasing shopping and business in the core as people find it more pleasant to walk. And I wouldn't mind a farmers market to get my locally grown veggies.

How about your neighbourhood? Why not grab a pair of walking shoes and get legging it?

Is your neighbourhood easy to get around in? Are there many amenities within walking or cycling distance? Is there a well serviced transit route?

Speak out!

Let your councillor know what you think will help create a better neighbourhood. Better still; invite him or her for a walk around the neighbourhood as did the folk from Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC). Join a Transit Users Group (TUG) that can help you. Participate on municipal committees.

One of the best gauges to knowing if your community is walkable is considering whether it is safe for children. How fast are cars allowed to go down your street? What are the traffic calming measures on your street? Does you community center, banks etc have bike racks? What kind of stop lights/signals does your street have?

A community that supports walking supports health, safety and the vibrancy of that community. It's a walk/win situation!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Upcoming Talk

Transportation Futures: Aviation and Light Rail for Hamilton and Elsewhere

Hamiltonians for Progressive Development invites you to hear Dr. Richard Gilbert, author of "Hamilton: the Electric City", on January 10 th at FRWY Café (333 King Street East, at Wellington). Dr. Gilbert will be talking about the future of transportation in an energy-constrained world, with particular emphasis on the prospects for air travel and light rail transit. This free evening seminar begins at 7:30 pm with Dr. Gilbert's talk, which will be followed by a panel discussion led by guest moderator Nicole MacIntyre; panelists will be Scott Stewart (General Manager of Public Works for the City of Hamilton), McMaster professor Nicholas Kevlahan, and Lynda Lukasik of Environment Hamilton.

Dr. Gilbert was commissioned by the city in the summer of 2005 to do a study on how Hamilton should respond to rapidly rising energy prices. At that point oil was selling at under $65 a barrel; this week it reached $100 a barrel. Dr. Gilbert predicted that prices will rise much further over the next decade as global production is no longer able to meet demand, and concluded that it is likely that gasoline prices will reach $4 a litre by 2018. Consequently, he called on the city to focus upon energy in all planning decisions and recommended that a more detailed follow-up report be prepared.

Last month, Dr. Gilbert and Simon Fraser University professor Anthony Perl released a new book called Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil, which proposes responses to "an early peak in world oil production and profound climate change resulting in part from oil use." The seminar on January 10 th will explain Dr. Gilbert's ideas, with specific emphasis on issues of particular concern to Hamiltonians.

Time: January 10, 2008, 7:30 pm

Place: FRWY Cafe, 333 King Street East (at Wellington Street), Hamilton

Cost: Free

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy new year to you Hamiltonians!

This month I want to hear from people as to what makes their neighbourhood a great place to live in. What do you love about where you live? On the other hand, what would improve your neighbourhood?
When you're thinking about your neighbourhood please consider some of these criteria;
is it walkable? Can kids walk safely to school, to the library? What are the bike trails like?
Would you like to see more buses in the hood? Wouldn't it be great if there was a store where you could buy socks and underwear easily ( i have to hop on a bus to get to the mall).
Personally i live in Dundas and I think it's great except for getting down to Hamilton on the bus- wish the buses were more frequent!
I also wish there was a movie theater here and a farmer's market would be fantastic. The best thing though is definitely the trails and the conservation area. I'd miss those the most if I moved away.
Looking forward to hearing from you'll.