By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton’s conversion of its one-way streets to two-way has hit a few potholes.
While councillors remain supportive of the program, there is no money this year to convert any streets, and politicians rejected a proposal to create a citizen’s panel to study the issue.
Politicians at their April 9 council meeting quashed a recommendation proposed by Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie in a 9-4 vote to create a citizens’ panel at a cost of $95,000 to study the issue. There are about nine streets that have been proposed since 2007 for two-way conversion and are contained in the city’s downtown transportation master plan. They include Duke, Caroline, Rebecca, Hess, King William, Hughson, and Park. The total cost is over $1.1 million, which isn’t in the city’s capital budget this year or beyond.
Some councillors also wanted other streets to be converted, including Wentworth,Wellington, Birch,Wilson and Sherman.
“We could tackle some of (the streets),” said Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr. “Some are no brainers.”
Converting one-way streets to two-way has become an emotional issue for politicians and residents alike. While there has been support for the conversions downtown, suburban residents feel uneasy about the move.
“There is some consternation about the larger streets,” said Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark.
He is referring to future plans city staff have proposed to convert King, Main andQueen Street to two-way.
Over the years though, the city has successfully converted James, John, York Boulevard, Caroline and MacNab.
McHattie proposed using a citizens’ panel model, which was helpful in solving the area-rating issue for politicians, he said.
“Somehow we seriously need the help of citizens,” said McHattie.
Once the idea for a citizens’ panel was crushed, Farr and McHattie said they will look for the funds to convert a few of the smaller streets to two way.