New Transportation Options Linked to Quality of Life and Prosperity
HAMILTON August 2, 2013: The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, through its Hamilton HIVE initiative for young professionals, convened a community workshop focused on strengthening collaboration necessary to advance sustainable mobility in Hamilton. The day-long workshop — held on July 31 in partnership with the City of Hamilton — helped accelerate a new era of transportation planning and implementation in our city.
“Hamilton is creating a more balanced and sustainable future that incorporates walking, biking, public transit and cars,” said Keanin Loomis, president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “This week’s workshop provided an opportunity for participants to discuss healthy and efficient ways to get around. It’s about transportation improvements that promote quality of life and prosperity for all Hamiltonians.”
The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce continues to play a leadership role in driving innovative approaches to urban transportation that align with Hamilton’s long-term economic, social, cultural and environmental goals.
Says Loomis: “Our membership recognizes the shared benefits that come from complete streets, urban pathways, light rail transit, slow neighbourhoods and other pieces of modern infrastructure for sustainable mobility. To become Canada’s top midsized city, Hamilton needs to invest in new transportation options for the 21st century.”
In addition to business and community stakeholders, the workshop attracted more than fifty city employees representing a range of departments from health and public works to finance and transportation.
“For us, the work to build and maintain the infrastructure to support sustainable mobility requires collaboration among our city staff and the wider community,” said Chris Murray, city manager, City of Hamilton. “The workshop brought us together with community partners to share information and identify opportunities to partner on projects that will make us an even better city.”
Melissa Height, chair of Hamilton HIVE — an extensive network of local young professionals and entrepreneurs — is pleased to see growing community support for sustainable mobility. “Hamilton is becoming more pedestrian friendly and less car dependent,” she said. “It’s a recipe that’s good for people of all ages.”
The workshop was facilitated by Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities, a leading Canadian not for profit devoted to creating healthy and vibrant communities. By the end of the day, participants had drafted a short list of priority ideas to enhance local mobility options, including:
- Build a complete, citywide cycling network — with protected bike lanes in busy urban areas
- Increase public transit capacity and frequencies
- Favour planning that incorporates walkable destinations
- Host more open streets events citywide
- Embrace “complete streets” that accommodate multiple modes of transportation
- Transform laneways into dynamic pedestrian places
- Build a gondola that enables pedestrians and cyclists to move between upper and lower Hamilton
An early task is to support/accelerate ideas currently underway and initiate new efforts as necessary
Participants also agreed on a preferred mindset needed to help realize these ideas. Key ingredients include:
- Act with urgency to catch the wave of regional growth and benefit from a changing demographic
- Lead by example — walk, bike and use public transit
- Consider the mobility needs of people of all ages
- Embrace the aging of Hamilton’s population as an opportunity to rethink local mobility options
- Utilize neighbourhood-led planning principles and practices
- Share examples of sustainable mobility through high impact visuals — seeing is believing
- Dignify pedestrians with quality sidewalks, pathways and public spaces
- Initiate simple, low cost pilot projects that help citizens adjust to change
Looking forward, 8-80 Cities will produce a short report that captures the essence of the day and potential next steps. And the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce announced that it will establish a Complete Streets Taskforce that will work on recommendations arising from this workshop and other forums.
“The taskforce will convene top people from the City along with business and civic leaders to seize the opportunity to make Hamilton safe and accessible for all modes of mobility,” said Loomis. “It’ll support the work of other groups and become a meeting ground for thought leadership, innovation and action.”
Loomis also emphasized the importance of hosting similar workshops in the future. “It’s essential that we meet regularly as a community to push ahead with visionary ideas that will differentiate our city.”
This week’s workshop was made possible through funding provided to Hamilton HIVE by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, Communities in Transition Program.
- 30 -