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Council puts an amber light on traffic calming policy

If you want to get the full attention of a Hamilton Councillor, start suggesting implementing a city-wide traffic calming policy. That was the experience of Edward Soldo Director, Transportation Operations & Maintenance as he submitted a 20-page draft policy document. The document acknowledged that “Traffic calming is a contentious subject and should be dealt with in a clear, concise and transparent process that will meet the needs and expectations of the community.” That turned out to be an understatement as the hours ticked by at the Public works committee. For some councillors, the issue was they believed they had a good process in place to deal with installing speed bumps and stop signs, and they were leery of a one-size-fits-all solution. Clr. Chad Collins wondered where the call had come from for changes to a system that he felt had worked well. The proposal also laid bare the suburban-urban divide as rural councillors such as Lloyd Ferguson, Arlene Vanderbeek and Maria Pearson, all said they did not have speed bumps in their wards and don’t want them. Councillor Maria Pearson said if she responded to all the requests for speed bumps there would be on every street in the ward, and people would not want to live in a Ward like that—a sentiment echoed by Clr.Ferguson. On the other side were inner city councillors such as Jason Farr and Nrinder Nann who favoured the proposal. Nann said she liked the idea of a coordinated framework to deal with the issue. The other point of division came with, the old bugaboo– area rating. The eight old city councillors have extra money to spend on capital and in some cases these funds have been used for traffic calming measures. The suburban councillors do not have access to the special area rating fund.

For his part Soldo, answered hours of questioning politely and calmly. He assured councillors that the new policy would not change the current practice where the ward councillor is always the first point of contact for any traffic calming measure. In the end council sent the Soldo proposal back with instructions for him to work with councillors individually to try to address their concerns. The staff report is here.

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