International Village LRT stop possible
Planners heard BIA concerns, pitch changes
Hamilton’s light rail transit planners are pitching a new downtown stop to assuage concerns of merchants in the International Village.
The city and project lead Metrolinx unveiled a draft alignment for the $1-billion planned LRT line earlier this year. The plan called for only one lane of car traffic on King Street through the narrow downtown pinch point and LRT stops at Catharine Street and Victoria Avenue.
But even downtown fans of the contentious project bridled at the idea of skipping a stop within the International Village. “Years of pain and anguish for what? ... A plan that doesn’t even put us on the map,” said International Village BIA head Susie Braithwaite at the time.
Planners heard those concerns, said city LRT director Paul Johnson, and are pitching a Wellington Street stop rather than one further east at Victoria.
“We looked at it and figured there was a viable way to essentially bookend the village,” he said, noting the Catharine stop would be so close to Mary Street that it can be renamed for that street, which is considered the border of the BIA.
Braithwaite said she was pleased with the change — and with the way project planners consulted with the BIA.
“It was really important to us to have something within the (Village) boundaries,” she said.
At the same time, Braithwaite cautioned she can’t speak on behalf of all businesses within the area when it comes to LRT support.
“There are so many different opinions out there,” she said.
Louie Petrou, of Leathers, near the proposed stop between Mary and Catharines streets, previously told the Spectator he didn’t care where the stops were located.
“Shutting down the street for a year of construction, two years, is going to run people out of business, period. Why would I care (where a stop is located) at that point?” he asked.
Several business owners and residents have submitted letters or want to present their positions on the project at a July 26 light rail subcommittee meeting, where the staff pitch for a new stop will also be presented.
A related staff report briefly excited Twitter users this week by referencing plans for two-way car traffic on Main Street.
But Johnson emphasized the report refers exclusively to traffic flow along the actual LRT route, which follows Main Street West, then switches to King Street, before ending on Main Street again beyond the Delta.
While past Metrolinx reports have recommended a full conversion of Main Street to two-way traffic, planners are “not talking right now about converting any street that is not directly involved in the alignment,” Johnson said.
Consultants and city traffic engineers are separately examining how LRT would affect car traffic through the lower city — and may yet recommend for or against the conversion of Main’s long stretches of one-way car traffic.
But that vehicle traffic impact information won’t come before August, Johnson said, and a final recommendation may take longer still.
Metrolinx and the city have now set dates for public information sessions this fall, however, that should have new information about everything from traffic changes to potential property acquisition needs for the project.