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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > Canada > Ontario > SSP: Local Hamilton > Urban, Urban Design & Heritage Issues

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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 30, 2007, 1:23 AM
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Gore Park

Eisenberger pushes for downtown pedestrian mall

Eric McGuinness
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."

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Old Posted Oct 30, 2007, 1:24 AM
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Some think mayor's 'dramatic' plan goes too far

John Burman
The Hamilton Spectator
(Oct 2, 2007)

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says Hamilton needs to take a bold step forward and create a King Street East pedestrian mall on both sides of Gore Park.

But the mayor's vision of "large, dramatic steps" -- closing off both the north and south sides of King Street East between James and Catharine streets -- may be a half a street too far.

John Mokrycke, a Hamilton architect and a downtown and heritage advocate, doesn't think there's enough people or commercial activity downtown right now to make a pedestrian mall on both sides of King a success.

He's happy with the idea of closing the south leg of King and getting the buses away from Gore Park. He says it should have been done 20 years ago.

But it's too soon to think about closing the north side, he said yesterday.

Mokrycke believes it would be better to turn the south side into a pedestrian area and leave the north side of King Street for two-way traffic.

The mayor says he wants to kick-start debate on the idea but no one told the Downtown Business Improvement Area, which represents 115 property owners and 250 businesses downtown.

"It comes as something of a surprise," said Kathy Drewitt, the BIA's executive director.

Drewitt says the BIA has been lobbying to get the buses moved away from Gore Park to MacNab Street, but this is the first they've heard about a pedestrian mall on the north side of King.

Other proposals to close off the south side of King have met with strenuous objection from businesses there and on Hughson and John streets, she said.

Instead the BIA would like to see angle parking on the south side and improvements to Gore Park itself.

"We need a new plan to restructure Gore Park," Drewitt said, adding the BIA would like to see the city start planting trees to eventually replace ash trees around the park.

Both Drewitt and Mokrycke agree it might be an idea to have a pedestrian mall on King on weekends or special occasions so people get a feel for it.

Downtown Councillor Bob Bratina said the mayor's idea is "really an idea whose time not only has come, but came a long time ago."

He believes the main obstacle to more pedestrian use of the south leg of King has always been the buses.

An environmental assessment of locations for a new bus hub replacing the Gore location is nearing completion. Options include using Hunter Street East in front of the GO Centre or the parking lot between the Pigott Building and Commerce Place on James, just south of King.

"I think the time has come to get this done, not get bogged down in three, four, five years of study," said Eisenberger.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 2:18 AM
miketoronto miketoronto is offline
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A full pedestrian mall I don't think is needed at this point. If the mayor wants people downtown, then he has to have places along King Street that will attract people to come downtown. King Street near Gore Park needs cafe's on one side, and shops that will actually draw people.

And can I say one thing about the buses.

Moving the buses from Gore Park I think is the worst idea ever. The buses are the reason Gore Park and that area of King Street is busy. Remove the buses, and Gore Park will be hardly used at all.

You notice that when you are downtown at night. Many streets are quiet, yet Gore Park is packed, because people are getting on buses. Buses are the lifeblood of the park.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 2:41 AM
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You have no idea what you are talking about. A bus drop off with passengers that are quickly transferring to go else where does little to enhance this public space.

First, the pedestrianization project can work if it is attached to a larger subsidization project of creating new street front retail and liveable spaces above them along King Street.

Second, the buses create a terrible condition in Gore Park in which diesel fumes and loud noise reduce the quality of the space. This experience is further degraded by the quick passing cars on one way King Street.

Pedestrianization of Gore Park combined with light rail and subsidization of development projects along King Street will be a major step in making downtown Hamilton far more liveable.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 2:47 AM
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Originally Posted by miketoronto View Post
A full pedestrian mall I don't think is needed at this point. If the mayor wants people downtown, then he has to have places along King Street that will attract people to come downtown. King Street near Gore Park needs cafe's on one side, and shops that will actually draw people.

And can I say one thing about the buses.

Moving the buses from Gore Park I think is the worst idea ever. The buses are the reason Gore Park and that area of King Street is busy. Remove the buses, and Gore Park will be hardly used at all.

You notice that when you are downtown at night. Many streets are quiet, yet Gore Park is packed, because people are getting on buses. Buses are the lifeblood of the park.
Not completely, true Mike.
During the daytime, The Gore is PUMPING with life: business ppl, transit riders, sightseers, passers-by...
At night, the PARK is mostly full of transit riders, however the sidewalks are often packed (esp during the summer) with people sitting at Infussion's Cafe, Finger's bar & Grill, Chester's Beer of the Worlds. I have YET to see anyone in Taj Mahal's patio (summertime or anytime). At night, Thu-Sun, if you walk behind the bldgs that face Gore, there's The Embassy Club with their HUGE double-decker outdoor patio/balcony. You can hear the club's music all the way from King/James.

When the city removes the buses from Gore, they'll likely keep the Hub in the general area (either lot beside Piggot or Hunter St @ The GO). Therefore, people will still either choose to or be forced to walk through the Gore. Not as many people will travel through, but these transit riders don't use these businesses anyway. It's the people who have the time to eat, drink, talk, etc. who stop at most of these places.

I can tell you for a fact that most ppl I know wont eat/drink/talk at a patio in Gore Park at the moment b/c it's simply too loud. Busses squeeling, roaring by, normal cars flying down the cobblestone road, etc. It's not an ideal place in it's current state... give it a cpl years, when there are no more distractions and a better BIA, the Gore will be THE place (next to Hess I guess) to be in Hamilton.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 2:48 AM
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hahaha you read my mind, HAMRetrofit!!
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 3:40 PM
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you know what it needs. POLICING!!!!!!!!!!!!! people don't feel safe. It is creepy whether the danger is real or perceived is a useless debate. Perceived reality is reality. Humans are instinctive animals, if we believe danger exists we don't go there.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 3:54 PM
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Just look up at Gore Park and you'll see a camera.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 5:32 PM
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Merchants think mayor's idea bad for business
Fred Eisenberger envisions Stoney Creek pedestrian mall

Abigail Cukier, Stoney Creek
(Nov 2, 2007)

Although Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he was merely musing over turning downtown Stoney Creek into a pedestrian mall, local merchants definitely had something to say about it.

Mr. Eisenberger envisions a pedestrian mall in downtown Hamilton, on King Street East from Catharine Street to James Street, which includes Gore Park. City staff is studying the plan, which Mr. Eisenberger argues would encourage businesses to open and entice more people to stroll the downtown. He would like to see similar plans in Dundas and on King Street in Stoney Creek.

"You might as well put up a 'closed for business' sign," said Dave Cage, executive director of the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce.

"We would definitely have to look at it, because the layout of downtown Stoney Creek is not the same as James Street or Gore Park. Cars would be diverted up small, residential streets, narrow streets with four-way stop signs and pass by (RL) Hyslop school.

"I don't share that same vision, but I am willing to discuss it."

Stoney Creek BIA chair Ed Strecker, who owns Britannia Cleaners at 17 King St. E., called the idea a "disaster."

"Do you want to talk about getting rid of your downtown, that would be it," he said. "If you have a lawyer or a doctor, that's one thing, but for a dry cleaner or a convenience store, you're going to go to the one that's most convenient. That's not doing us any favour at all."

Mr. Eisenberger stresses this is just an idea and realizes it needs to be studied. But he believes something has to be done about traffic on King Street. He marvelled at the volume of cars when crossing the street on a visit to the area.

"That's not warm and friendly. You want to make it more pedestrian friendly," he said. "The issues might be different than downtown Hamilton. So I would leave it to the local councillors to bring up and discuss."

Joanne Wynhofen, owner of the Picture Palace at 19 King St. E., says she sees merit in the mayor's idea.

"The cars go so fast on King Street that it's an excellent idea. But do we have enough pedestrians, enough interesting businesses to bring them down here," she said.

"We would need more interesting shops and you're not going to get that without the people. So it goes around."

Connie Behie, executive director of the Stoney Creek BIA agrees.

"The merchants don't lend themselves to that. They are more service providers. People don't want to trot for miles lugging their dry cleaning or massive picture frames," she said. "The mechanic, I think he wouldn't be too happy about people not being able to bring their cars.

"The complexion of the street would have to change dramatically and the access streets would also have to change."

Mary Terziev-Clifford of the Village Restaurant, doesn't believe the plan would be in the restaurant's 'best interests.'

"A lot of traffic drives by and the people say, 'Oh, let's go there for dinner or maybe next time,'" she said. "We can't live on the locals. The locals are wonderful, but they know who you are. We need fresh new faces. We already advertise quite a bit and we would need to advertise more, which costs a lot."

But Mr. Eisenberger says flow through traffic makes an area uninviting.

"You want to make a place inviting for people to visit. A line-up of cars is not very interesting," he says. "We have to look at whether or not we can create it or how it would work. We have Queenston Road and Lake Avenue and we could create other ways, but it's something worth looking at.We would get the BIA's input and staff would do a transportation study.

"These areas need to be more inviting. You need to create a destination point and the stores would benefit greatly. You want a warm, inviting destination, rather than a fly through from East Hamilton to Grimsby."

Ward councillor Brad Clark said he doesn't know how it would be done.

"I would vehemently oppose it. We have a plan for downtown Stoney Creek and it does not include a promenade," he said. "We have the old Stoney Creek plan, which will be ready for the anniversary of the Battle of Stoney Creek."

Stoney Creek council passed the Olde Town Urban Design Plan in 1997, with a completion date of 2013 to coincide with the bicentennial of the Battle of Stoney Creek.

Improvements have included the town square and fountain with the Augustus Jones sculpture, traditional street signs, renovations to Battlefield Monument and reconstruction of Battlefield bridge. Other items still on the list include a seniors centre and further upgrades to Battlefield Park.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 12:10 AM
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Just look up at Gore Park and you'll see a camera.
ha ha...those cameras are useless. it ain't policing, it's observing and it does frig all. we need cops walking the beat.

i've made several attempts to sit and relax in gore park over the years but it's nearly impossible for a [relatively] normal person to do so. everyone around you is either smoking, spitting, screaming at invisible people, or taking a hit off a poorly concealed doobie. removing the buses will help but a great deal more needs to be done. we need to find a way to attract a greater mix of people to the area, not just down-and-outers.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 12:28 AM
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^^ the cams aren't monitored at all. They're there incase "anything happens".
And as someone who walks through Gore Park often (daytime, nightime, ANYtime) I can tell you things ARE happening.

I agree that police walking the beat is the best solution (along with the cameras) to keeping the Gore clear of crackheads, etc.

Sadly, I don't think it's the crackheads ppl are afraid of... I think it's the younger "thugs" who just sit around and talk. They're harmless, but I can understand why most would be afraid to walk past them.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:02 AM
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Gore is completely safe..I'm there in day or night and never feel the slightest bit worried.
I'm more worried walking down a deserted suburban street than I am downtown.
I think Mike has a point with the amount of people there for buses.
I'd like to see the north leg of King go 2-way with eastbound bus stops at the northern edge of Gore Park...the south leg of Gore can be for patios and shops...but to remove transit off King all-together would devestate the area.
It's the cars that have to go, not the pedestrians or transit.
Just came back from Gore actually (11pm, Friday night). Wonderful night...tons of people around.
Saw 2 sets of 2 cops riding by on bike....not once did I think "gee, I wish there was a cop here".
Perceived safety issues are pumped in the local media and as I've said elsewhere on these forums the sooner people stop watching TV and believing all the crap, the better off society would be.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:12 AM
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Gore is completely safe..I'm there in day or night and never feel the slightest bit worried.
I'm more worried walking down a deserted suburban street than I am downtown.
I actually am more scared in the country than I am downtown.
I've seen all Friday the 13th's... I know what goes on in rural areas!
Jason takes Manhattan was just rediculous! hahaha

But seriously, I'm very concerned about this project b/c I'm certain the BIA and Cathey DaTwit will never let it pass.
I remember emailing Hamilton Pride last winter'ish to discuss shutting down Gore Park/Southern-Leg of King for a weekend for Pride Festivities, much like Toronto and Church St. They told me they could not b/c of City Officials and the local BIA (which I'm assuming was the Downtown BIA).

If they (the BIA) will fight to keep the Gore Park Parking Lot closed for a WEEKEND festival (when most people don't park in the gore anyway), then I can just imagine the fight Ms DaTwit and her clan of Loan Shop Owners will put up to completely shut it off.

ps: does she (DaTwit) ever return emails?
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:16 AM
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Next year the City starts the constriction of the new downtown transit terminal and so far all indications are pointing to a new terminal along Hunter St next to the GO Station.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:28 AM
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Next year the City starts the constriction of the new downtown transit terminal and so far all indications are pointing to a new terminal along Hunter St next to the GO Station.
They're going to BUILD, or just re-streetscape Hunter to allow "bays" for the buses?

I like the Hunter option... but I hope they put the stops along the northern-edge of the street.

Any idea of what's going in that bldg @ Hunter/James? (old public health dept., I believe)
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:33 AM
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^ Office space, it was mentioned in the 40 some pages of Hamilton Next article, adding another floor.

Construction as building a terminal in the middle, with displays telling you when the next bus should arrive, washrooms (a must have especially with HSR contract talks), likely a Tim Hortons, heated shelters, etc. The construction value is in the millions and needs approval from council in the next budget. It has the highest priority for funding.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:44 AM
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^^ Where are they building new along Hunter? In the lot beside this bldg?



either that or they'll demo that bldg and keep the lot for parking... sounds more Hamilton-esq to me!

But that's a great idea about heated shelters, a tim's, & electronic bus scheds! Let's hope it goes thru!
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 3:55 AM
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Oh wait sorry the passenger terminal will be at MacNab at the surface parking lot, facing towards MacNab.

Option A – MacNab/Hunter Terminal
This option represents a concept which could meet the adopted program requirements while minimizing the amount of private property acquisition. A total of 10 platform locations would be provided at the MacNab Street location using the present island platform layout. The access to the surface parking lot from MacNab would be closed to allow construction of a new passenger terminal building and operations centre on a portion of the parking lot site. No changes in the present traffic patterns would be introduced.

To meet the required 13-platform program, three platforms would be developed along Hunter Street adjacent to the GO TH&B Terminal. The bus platforms would be created in the area presently occupied by the present curb parking. An estimated total of eight parking spaces would be displaced.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 5:34 AM
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If you check Mayor's Fred facebook you'll see pictures that he took in Halifax recently....


Pedestrian Plaza in downtown Halifax



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Old Posted Nov 3, 2007, 12:20 PM
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If you check Mayor's Fred facebook you'll see pictures that he took in Halifax recently....
Those pictures do not help the argument for pedestrian malls, given that it looks to be the middle of the day with warm weather and there are a total of four people in the first pic and two in the second. I am sure that things are not like that all day, but those pedestrian mall pics are certainly missing pedestrians.
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