Eisenberger pushes for downtown pedestrian mall
The Hamilton Spectator
(Oct 2, 2007)
Mayor Fred Eisenberger wants to give downtown a boost by creating a pedestrian mall on both sides of Gore Park, detouring all but bus traffic off King Street East between Catharine and James streets.
"This is an issue whose time has come," Eisenberger declared yesterday.
The mayor told council's public works committee: "I'd like to start the public debate. We need to take large, dramatic steps to make things happen."
He said he also wants to look at similar plans in other downtown cores which have become busy routes for through traffic.
"I want to look at a way to invigorate downtown cores, not just Hamilton but Dundas and Stoney Creek.
"We are looking at opening the expressway (Red Hill Valley Parkway next month). That gives some hope there are alternate ways of moving around the city, especially the downtown area."
Committee members went along, directing staff to add the Hamilton scheme to a five-year review of the Downtown Transportation Master Plan, which begins with a public information centre at the convention centre from 5 to 8 p.m. tomorrow.
They also directed staff to report on cost and implementation.
In an interview after the meeting, Eisenberger said: "I'd like to have something happen in less than a year, even sooner if we could do it on a part-time basis, if we get agreement.
"I've talked to people throughout the community and had nothing but support."
Eisenberger said he was inspired by the Hungarian city of Debrecen, population about 205,000, "whose downtown core was struggling with the same kinds of issues."
A pedestrian mall there, served by a light-rail line, "generated an enormous amount of investment, inspired a whole new view of what their downtown was.
"It brought a whole lot of people in."