Residents air concerns at public meeting
By Mark Newman, News Staff
A citizens group will determine what an upgraded Mountain Brow Boulevard will look like.
The city had been looking at adding a sidewalk on the residential side and a multi-use paved trail with lighting and some bump-out parking on the escarpment side of the boulevard between Oakcrest Drive and Mohawk Road East.
In addition, the $3-$4 million project calls for new water mains, narrower lanes, no parking in front of the homes and moving the road closer to the residential side and further away from the Mountain brow.
About 150 Mountain Brow Boulevard and area residents expressed their views on the road modernization plan at an often boisterous meeting in the cafeteria at Sherwood Secondary School on Monday.
Most were opposed to the planned sidewalk in front of their homes and several suggested that if a sidewalk is necessary it be shifted to the brow side of the road.
They noted most pedestrians already use the brow side so they can enjoy the view.
Many complained about increased traffic volumes and speeders along Mountain Brow Boulevard and asked that stop signs be installed at some points along the road.
A number of residents also objected to the planned parking prohibition in font of their homes.
After more than two hours of discussion, most of the residents agreed to a suggestion by east Mountain councillor Tom Jackson that a committee of citizens be formed to work with him and city staff to try to come up with a road reconstruction plan they could live with.
Residents were asked to make a notation on the sign-in sheet as to whether they would be interested in being part of the committee and those interested will be contacted by Jackson’s office in the coming weeks.
Jackson said the committee could have six to 24 members and should meet early in the New Year.
The councillor said he was glad to see the residents were not generally opposed to upgrades and improvements to Mountain Brow Boulevard.
Jackson said he was concerned that if the residents had flatly rejected the road work, city staff might spend the money penciled in for the job on another project in the city.
“The general sentiment I was hearing seemed to be coalescing around providing multi-use pathways on the escarpment side, seemed to be about cleaning up the sight-lines, seemed to be about more police visibility and seemed to be about some additional traffic calming measures (such as) three-way stops that would help deter what’s become a throughway for traffic,” Jackson said.
The residents gave Jackson their approval to add temporary (6-12 months) three-way stop signs at Margate Avenue and Broker Drive.
Jackson said he hopes to get the stop signs through the public works committee before Christmas and have them installed six to eight weeks later.
Hamilton Police divisional safety officer Fred Cooper told the residents that adding stop signs wouldn’t necessarily slow traffic on Mountain Brow Boulevard.
“It’s a misconception that people are going to stop,” Cooper said.
He added that after the new stop signs go in, the calls from the area to police will likely change from complaints about speeders to complaints about drivers running the stop signs.
Maxine Carter, the city’s access and equity coordinator, suggested that the city could open itself to a human rights challenge if the sidewalks don’t go in on the residential side of the road.
“The accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities legislation basically says the city, the municipality…they are obliged to enforce the act which says we must remove barriers for persons with disabilities and make sure they have the same access to the same facilities that anybody else has,” she said. “No sidewalks on the housing side of the road means anybody who lives on the housing side of the road who has a disability…they cannot use that side of the road.”
The road work is tentatively set for 2014, but Jackson said that is a general timetable and not a firm target.