Column: In spite of protests, democracy worked in bus lane cancellation

Opinion Jan 29, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

Much to the chagrin of the 150-or-so bus lane advocates in attendance at the Jan. 21 city council meeting, Hamilton’s municipal reps decided to put an end to the King Street project.

The controversial transit-only lane seemingly divided Hamiltonians between those who saw it as a way to encourage more people to take transit by making riding the bus more convenient and those saw it as an impediment to efficient traffic flow.

What struck me in the aftermath of the decision was not that the transit advocates were upset (no one likes to see something they believe in come to naught), but rather almost histrionic attack on the process.

Many bloggers and Twitteres decried how council members ignored the will of the people as demonstrated by those who packed the chamber and took the time to write-in to city hall with their opinion. They chastised councillors who didn’t live downtown for not supporting what many saw as a downtown specific project with little or no relevance to Hamiltonians living outside the core. Others mused how this defeat might mean the end of the nascent civic engagement movement.

It can be argued whether it was the transit advocates or the councillors who represented the true will of the people. However, with an election only last fall and seven of the nine who voted to kill the project winning their council seats with huge percentages of the popular vote, it seems unlikely that they are that out of touch with the desires of their constituents. (A poll paid for by a group of Ward 2 residents did show that the majority of Hamiltonians did want to keep the bus-only lane, but with its miniscule sample size of 332 and a +/- 5.5% margin of error, I wonder how accurate is it.)

The downtown vs. the rest-of-the-city argument is a bit of a red herring. Since amalgamation it’s all one big city. Lloyd Ferguson has the same say on downtown projects as Jason Farr has on those in Ancaster. Why? Because ultimately everything in the city is connected. Yes, the physical lane may be downtown, but for anyone who uses King Street it’s his or her issue too. Even for those who don’t, the pilot project was designed to be a test for the possible roll-out of similar lanes in other parts of the city which could have impacts (either negative or positive) on their lives, which gives them the right to have their councillors make their voices heard.

But what concerns me most is the idea put forward by some that this will dispirit those who fought to keep the lane in place and that they’ll just give up on trying to improve the city.

I don’t buy that for a second.

The truly passionate never stop caring. If they are thwarted, they go back to square one and have a cold, hard look at what they did right and what they did wrong and go forward determined not to make the same mistake twice. And as long as Hamiltonians have passion for their city, they’ll never stop trying to improve it.

I think we’re gonna be fine on the passion for the city front for years to come.

— Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

Column: In spite of protests, democracy worked in bus lane cancellation

Opinion Jan 29, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

Much to the chagrin of the 150-or-so bus lane advocates in attendance at the Jan. 21 city council meeting, Hamilton’s municipal reps decided to put an end to the King Street project.

The controversial transit-only lane seemingly divided Hamiltonians between those who saw it as a way to encourage more people to take transit by making riding the bus more convenient and those saw it as an impediment to efficient traffic flow.

What struck me in the aftermath of the decision was not that the transit advocates were upset (no one likes to see something they believe in come to naught), but rather almost histrionic attack on the process.

Many bloggers and Twitteres decried how council members ignored the will of the people as demonstrated by those who packed the chamber and took the time to write-in to city hall with their opinion. They chastised councillors who didn’t live downtown for not supporting what many saw as a downtown specific project with little or no relevance to Hamiltonians living outside the core. Others mused how this defeat might mean the end of the nascent civic engagement movement.

It can be argued whether it was the transit advocates or the councillors who represented the true will of the people. However, with an election only last fall and seven of the nine who voted to kill the project winning their council seats with huge percentages of the popular vote, it seems unlikely that they are that out of touch with the desires of their constituents. (A poll paid for by a group of Ward 2 residents did show that the majority of Hamiltonians did want to keep the bus-only lane, but with its miniscule sample size of 332 and a +/- 5.5% margin of error, I wonder how accurate is it.)

The downtown vs. the rest-of-the-city argument is a bit of a red herring. Since amalgamation it’s all one big city. Lloyd Ferguson has the same say on downtown projects as Jason Farr has on those in Ancaster. Why? Because ultimately everything in the city is connected. Yes, the physical lane may be downtown, but for anyone who uses King Street it’s his or her issue too. Even for those who don’t, the pilot project was designed to be a test for the possible roll-out of similar lanes in other parts of the city which could have impacts (either negative or positive) on their lives, which gives them the right to have their councillors make their voices heard.

But what concerns me most is the idea put forward by some that this will dispirit those who fought to keep the lane in place and that they’ll just give up on trying to improve the city.

I don’t buy that for a second.

The truly passionate never stop caring. If they are thwarted, they go back to square one and have a cold, hard look at what they did right and what they did wrong and go forward determined not to make the same mistake twice. And as long as Hamiltonians have passion for their city, they’ll never stop trying to improve it.

I think we’re gonna be fine on the passion for the city front for years to come.

— Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

Column: In spite of protests, democracy worked in bus lane cancellation

Opinion Jan 29, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

Much to the chagrin of the 150-or-so bus lane advocates in attendance at the Jan. 21 city council meeting, Hamilton’s municipal reps decided to put an end to the King Street project.

The controversial transit-only lane seemingly divided Hamiltonians between those who saw it as a way to encourage more people to take transit by making riding the bus more convenient and those saw it as an impediment to efficient traffic flow.

What struck me in the aftermath of the decision was not that the transit advocates were upset (no one likes to see something they believe in come to naught), but rather almost histrionic attack on the process.

Many bloggers and Twitteres decried how council members ignored the will of the people as demonstrated by those who packed the chamber and took the time to write-in to city hall with their opinion. They chastised councillors who didn’t live downtown for not supporting what many saw as a downtown specific project with little or no relevance to Hamiltonians living outside the core. Others mused how this defeat might mean the end of the nascent civic engagement movement.

It can be argued whether it was the transit advocates or the councillors who represented the true will of the people. However, with an election only last fall and seven of the nine who voted to kill the project winning their council seats with huge percentages of the popular vote, it seems unlikely that they are that out of touch with the desires of their constituents. (A poll paid for by a group of Ward 2 residents did show that the majority of Hamiltonians did want to keep the bus-only lane, but with its miniscule sample size of 332 and a +/- 5.5% margin of error, I wonder how accurate is it.)

The downtown vs. the rest-of-the-city argument is a bit of a red herring. Since amalgamation it’s all one big city. Lloyd Ferguson has the same say on downtown projects as Jason Farr has on those in Ancaster. Why? Because ultimately everything in the city is connected. Yes, the physical lane may be downtown, but for anyone who uses King Street it’s his or her issue too. Even for those who don’t, the pilot project was designed to be a test for the possible roll-out of similar lanes in other parts of the city which could have impacts (either negative or positive) on their lives, which gives them the right to have their councillors make their voices heard.

But what concerns me most is the idea put forward by some that this will dispirit those who fought to keep the lane in place and that they’ll just give up on trying to improve the city.

I don’t buy that for a second.

The truly passionate never stop caring. If they are thwarted, they go back to square one and have a cold, hard look at what they did right and what they did wrong and go forward determined not to make the same mistake twice. And as long as Hamiltonians have passion for their city, they’ll never stop trying to improve it.

I think we’re gonna be fine on the passion for the city front for years to come.

— Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.