Complete Streets gets green light from Hamilton councillors


Published July 6, 2022 at 5:44 pm

City councillors on the public works committee in Hamilton have voted unanimously to have a living document guide area street design.

The Complete Streets Design Manual was approved 10-0 during a meeting on Wednesday. Five different departments within the city have been developing it over the last four years, during which time street safety issues in Hamilton have been further amplifed by an increase in deaths, including those of nine pedestrians in the first six months of this year.

Trevor Jenkins, project manager for sustainable mobility planning with the city’s transportation planning group, said the menual is part of a shift in urban planning. He noted that just as Hamilton consulted with cities such as Toronto and London, Ont., about how to build in ideas such as VisionZero into street design, other municipalities are interested in the approach Hamilton has taken.

“There has been a lot of evolution in thinking in this area in the last 15 to 20 years,” Jenkins said. “You’re not a cyclist, a motorist, a pedestrian — you are someone trying to get from Point A to Point B, however you choose to get around. Building a safer community is in all our interest, you are trying to get home alive.

“I already have had a number of municipalities reach out to us about collaboration in the future,” Jenkins added.

Adopting the manual will go before the full council on Friday (July 8). But only five active elected representatives were not at the meeting on Wedensday.

A city is limited in what it can do about the size and speed of contemporary automobiles, and legal ramifications and liability faced by motorists who cause collisions. But longtime councillors said adopting Complete Streets is a 180-degree turn for Hamilton.

“I can remember when it took 10 years to get a speed hump installed,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla, who is stepping down this fall after 22 years on council. “It’s almost surreal how far we’ve come.”

Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson, who has been representing the east Mountain for 34 years, added that Complete Streets will be “a wonderful set of guidelines for whoever is on this council over the next four years.”

Per the manual, cities have often been based on a “centreline out” approach to road design that is focused on motor vehicle capacity. In Hamilton, that is exemplified by King and Main streets, along with a number of northbound and southbound one-way streets.

Complete Streets is called “an ‘outside in’ approach that equitably considers the needs of all road users and recognizes the importance of streets… as public spaces and an integral component of the public realm.”

The entire manual is online.

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