Sunday, October 21, 2012

More Nimby

I’m getting rusty, I guess.

My plan was to read a city of Hamilton Planning report and provide an update to a story I’d done recently.

That was the plan but to my eyes the report is pretty much incomprehensible and that is saying something for a planning report.

As a recap the City of Hamilton denied the approval of a “Residential Care Facility” (their word) at 121 Augusta Street in Hamilton.  This would have allowed a mental health program for teenage girls to relocate to this address from the city owned building the non-profit operated.  This building requires   extensive renovations and costly repair. The denial was based this on the City’s Radial Distance Separation (RDS) Policy.

Many believe that   these RDS policies violate basic human rights and the city may be forced to address that matter in an Ontario Municipal Board hearing later this year.

But out the blue and I’ll quote from the planning report here:

staff’s attention was drawn to the difficulty the applicant had in securing alternative locations within the City limits that were conducive and appropriate for the proposed use.”

Not said here, but important to note, is that the city caused and continues to cause a lot of those to the staff report:

“On closer examination of the search parameters identified by the applicant, staff determined that the proposed function of the facility will not be that of a Residential Care Facility, and that the characterization of the proposed use as a Residential Care Facility by the applicant’s planning consultant is not representative of the intended use, having regard for how the By-law treats a Residential Care Facility.”

At a preliminary OMB hearing last week the city argued that they don’t want the RDS policy considered.  

That is the same policy, of course,  that they previously used to argue against approval before their “closer examination” produced another planning argument.  The hearing officer reserved judgement on this.

Councillor Brad Clark put it well, I think.

"It’s embarrassing to have the human rights commissioner intervene at the OMB when our vision is to be the best place to raise a child.”

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Moving Cars Faster

I’ve moved away from Burlington and I must say that the news that is reaching me on events from that beautiful lakefront city is making less and less sense by the day.

Take this one.

Burlington is increasing the speeds on some of its roads.

I’ve said it different ways before but I’m thinking Burlington should change its motto from ‘Stand By’ to ‘We March to a Different Drummer.’

Just last month the Chief Coroner of Ontario came out with a report called the Pedestrian Death Review.  This review examined the circumstances of 95 deaths that occurred from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2010 in the province.  As coroner’s report do, this one makes recommendations to help prevent future deaths. The 26 recommendations and accompanying comprehensive analysis can be found here.

The thrust of the report is to get municipalities to think about developing strategies to make that will make their roads safer for pedestrians. Cities should develop walking strategies and “complete streets” approach which suggests “streets should be designed to be safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability or age.”  Cities need to think about reducing speed limits.

This is, of course, a totally different way of looking at things then is done in Burlington.  Here a new Speed Limits Policy seems designed to acquiesce to citizen requests to be able drive their cars faster.  Just ask and the city will get the traffic engineers to check out what speed 85% of the traffic goes and, if it exceeds the speed limit, well, we should just raise that speed limit.

A recommendation going to Council on Monday October 15th if approved will increase the speed on the Queensway and the section of Upper Middle Road between Brant Street and Guelph line from 50 km to 60 km. 

Upper Middle Road will maintain those 40 kilometre zones. We’ll now see drivers getting nose bleeds as they decelerate in school zones.  Cops who enforce these zones tell me they’re cash cows and do nothing for safety.

And yet staff data demonstrates that cyclists will have more to worry about with these increased speeds.

Read the staff report and maybe you’ll understand how these changes contribute to vibrant neighbourhoods.  I’m still scratching my head on that one.

Typically, consultation was poor on this issue.  Relevant citizen advisory committees were merely “notified.” 

They’re marching to a different drummer in Burlington, the city by the lake, where traffic engineers rule.